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Trying to understand

The worldwide arrests over the last days have made Webdiarist Scott Dunmore's assessment of the nature of the paedophile more than timely. The recent debate over Bill Henson's art has sparked a furore amongst Webdiarists, heatedly defending their points of view and nobody giving ground. Now it's time to examine "the nature of the beast." As has become apparent, it's not as easy as people would like to think......

The term “paedophile” was much invoked in Paul Walter’s piece Perverts in the shrubbery, erroneously in my opinion.

In law enforcement, the term "paedophile" is generally used to describe those accused or convicted of child sexual abuse under sociolegal definitions of child (including both prepubescent children and adolescents younger than the local age of consent); as can be seen for example in the name of the United Kingdom police agency, the Paedophile Unit. Some researchers have described this usage as improper and suggested it can confound two separate types of offenders, child molesters and rapists, thereby obscuring results of ongoing research). My underline.

So I thought it timely to try to throw some light on the subject and hopefully attract more; after all, understanding is the first step in combating social evil.

The experience of sexual abuse as a child was previously thought to be a strong risk factor, but research does not show a causal relationship, as the vast majority of sexually abused children do not grow up to be adult offenders, nor do the majority of adult offenders report childhood sexual abuse. The US Government Accountability Office concluded, "the existence of a cycle of sexual abuse was not established." Prior to 1996, there was greater belief in the theory of a "cycle of violence," because most of the research done was retrospective—abusers were asked if they had experienced past abuse. Even the majority of studies found that most adult sex offenders said they had not been sexually abused during childhood, but studies varied in terms of their estimates of the percentage of such offenders who had been abused, from 0 to 79 percent. More recent prospective longitudinal research—studying children with documented cases of sexual abuse over time to determine what percentage become adult offenders—has demonstrated that the cycle of violence theory is not an adequate explanation for why people molest children.

Psycho/sociopathic behaviour is not confined solely to our species; however how we deal with it is different to that of the animal kingdom.

Occasionally a pride of lions will have in its midst a cub killer; not a new male (whose first job is to eliminate the offspring of his predecessor, shades of which we see in our society), but a female. Such animals are secretive about their behaviour and continue to wreak havoc until finally, suspicion hardens sufficiently and she is driven from the pride; effectively a sentence of death or a miserable existence. Wolves, whose very existence depends on social cohesion, will eliminate pups that exhibit sociopathic behaviour, i.e. failure to obey the protocols that govern physical contests.

The point of those two examples is that animals in a natural environment are not governed by cause/effect psychology as we are; the products of a society that was disrupted centuries ago by industrialisation, urbanisation and subsequent absentee parenthood.

That leaves what I have suspected for a long time; that which I have dubbed pathological psychology and dealt with very effectively in the aforementioned The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints On The Human Spirit.

What I cannot remember reading in that publication, now more than twenty years ago, was anything about the pathology of the brain other than that of its components and the cocktail of chemicals that permanently wash within us.

Accidents happen, “wires cross’ if you like, synapses created that result in unusual behaviour. Homosexuality is a case in point and research has shown there are pathological differences in the homosexual brain, thankfully making a mockery of the assertion that sexual orientation is a matter of choice.

Again from Wikipedia.

As a medical diagnosis, it is defined as a psychological disorder in which an adult experiences a sexual preference for prepubescent children and may engage in child sexual abuse, also known as "pedophilic behavior". According to the DSM, pedophilia is a form of paraphilia in which a person either has acted on intense sexual urges towards children, or has sexual urges towards and fantasies about children that cause distress or interpersonal difficulty. In common usage, the term pedophile or paedophile refers to an adult who is sexually attracted to children, whether or not the adult acts upon that attraction by sexually abusing a child.

So there we have it, two types of paedophile, criminal and others; except that under recent laws those in possession of child pornography can be prosecuted. I’m not comfortable with that. As long as it is only fine art that is being put up, it satisfies a desire and can alleviate sexual tension. Photographs are entirely a different matter; they involve victims.

With regard to the criminal kind, I’ve long tried to get into the mind of the paedophile. What hideous compulsion drives a man like Phillip Bell to perpetrate such a crime?

Good looking, courteous and charming, a successful business man at an early age he could have had his pick of the ladies.

How could he justify his actions to himself knowing the harm he was causing and the danger in which he placed himself?

If I gained any insight at all it was from an encounter with a madman. Wild of eye and appearance, he came toward me totally absorbed in a conversation with himself. I heard every word for a few seconds; total gibberish but in a flash I realised he was making perfect sense to himself. Maybe it’s a similar thought process.

There’s no need to tell me I’m weird, my compassion extends to the paedophile; as much a victim as the abused; of biological circumstance.

I think about Phillip in gaol and wonder if his incarceration is put to any useful purpose, (other than keeping him away from young boys).

Are scientists talking to him, trying to see inside his brain?


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Fascinating piece, Mary Lander! You have a valid point Eliot Ramsey, and the article I linked to is about NSW Labor's ignorance of abuse in indigenous communities. Doesn't excuse Howard though. We have a common enemy: I as an old leftie wants to see the back of the Iemma government - certainly not a traditonal Labor government - and you as - well, whatever you are. But what to replace them with? Barry O'Farrell seems like a decent bloke but who else is in the shadow line-up? We never hear of them.

Watch the fur fly

"Yet there is a growing body of research conducted in Australasia and the US that shows some young people do develop positive relationships with their bodies and body image, and explore sexual feelings in safe, pleasurable ways. These young people often cite the influence of their parents - but not because their parents protected or shielded them from knowledge of an adult sexual world."

- Dr Kath Albury, postdoctoral research fellow at the Journalism and Media Research Centre at the University of NSW.

There's going to be so much hysteria when the Senate Inquiry gets underway, isn't there?



Michael de Angelos says:.

"We all witnessed how the Howard government "discovered" child abuse in Indigenous communities just 8 months ago ( despite having the knowledge for years) and attempted to use it as a poltical wedge."

So, when did Labor discover it?

Did they keep quiet about it so not to "wedge" the Libs? How sporting.

It's all political

A piece in the Australian today by a former Labor staffer puts this in perspective: "NSW ignores black child sex victims". This is a scandal that's always been known of and it's getting quite out of hand.

We all witnessed how the Howard government "discovered" child abuse in Indigenous communities just 8 months ago (despite having the knowledge for years) and attempted to use it as a political wedge.

Now we are seeing the results of years of decimation under a Howard government where the poor actually got much poorer, along with he and Costello's blatantly talking up the economy as though they were actually doing something – convincing the "aspirationals" that the good times would never end as long as they were in charge. There is a coming financial backlash that will hit the middle classes badly.

With poverty comes child abuse in all its forms – sexual, mental and physical. Each one can be as damaging as the other. Yet the AFP has got out of control and has 300 officers dedicated to tracking net child porn. This is a fantasy – the same old stuff is recycled over and over again but to believe the AFP you would think that thousands of children are being abused every day to create this stuff.

Of course there are isolated incidents of paedophile groups but, as the Oxford University found in a study in 2001, the vast majority of child porn images on the net actually date back to at least 30/40 years ago.

So just like the last big bust here a few weeks ago (if anyone can actually remember it) we had the Queensland Police and the AFP in a revolting and childish battle to see how announced their busts first – and out of all those arrested only one child was found to be in danger – note: not being abused but living with a potential abuser. Yet the kudos they claimed were an exaggeration most likely to justify the extra $40M a year they are getting and no doubt they will ask for more (and despite the truth that it was the New Zealand police who did all the hard work).

Imagine if that money were put into social services on the ground – saving kids really at peril rather than chasing images around the net.

Meanwhile the quite revolting NSW AG John Hatzistergos – "all sex offenders are grubs" (which includes people who have been busted urinating against a car or wall and arrested for indecent exposure) keeps the hysteria going by bringing in bill that these people cannot disguise themselves or change their names on the basis – " a sex offender released from jail shaved his head to disguise himself". Sheer utter puerile rubbish from another timeserver in the NSW upper house who has found a drum to beat while he trashes people's rights in the courts and, along with his colleagues, ignores the real plight of abused children that is happening in every Sydney suburb and possibly every suburb in the country.

This is also the politician who trashed NSW hospitals when health minister and left Reba Meagher to pick up the pieces and take the blame. He seems intent upon doing it to citizens’ rights in the courts as well and, even worse – unlike the other grubs in the NSW parliament who are serving time before they move to a merchant bank as a reward for services rendered – he is a zealot, the most dangerous kind.

Politicians and the police assist in the abuse of children by their ignorance and concentration on one tiny aspect; the Bill Henson case is exactly one. The tens of thousands of dollars splurged is a disgrace.

No John, it's all politicians who are grubs. Until this problem is taken out of the hands of professional politicians and given to those who know what they are doing and is properly funded, child abuse will remain an epidemic.

galloping the maggot

Michael de Angelos: "No John, it's all politicians are grubs".

After watching Costa on Business latteline trying to justify still selling NSW electricity on a falling market, let alone that pitiful, despicable creature Greg Hunt interviewed on 730 Report, Tues, am prepared to recommend an OAM on Michael's behalf. Any seconds?

All politicians are grubs

Perhaps, Paul, we should go for a collective one.

responding here...

Michael, I too take a dim view of the way in which the AFP operates. It became highly politicised under Howard and under Keelty's rule. The issues around AFP operations in Indonesia will not go away and the smell hovering over the whole Haneef business is bad indeed. So your point is well taken. I don't trust political police and that is from a man in possession of his very own (now defunct) NSW Special Branch file. It makes interesting reading, but you had to be there!

Scott, human nature is not infinitely malleable but it is educable. There have been astonishing changes even in my own lifetime around what constitutes acceptable expressions of masculinity and male behaviour. The move towards paternity leave, for example, would have been unthinkable even thirty years ago. In the end we cannot legislate how people ought to be but, through state policies, we can encourage particular modes of being and discourage others, especially via the public education system and the taxation system.

Pedophiles and child molesters: same or different?

'I'm tired of being forced into the shadows by society'

After nearly three decades of failed relationships and emotional discontent, Lindsay Ashford has finally found himself.

Since he was a child, Ashford has always had a deep attraction to young girls but never acted on his urges or knew they had a name.

It wasn't until five years ago, at the age of 30, that Ashford realized why his brief marriage and his countless flings across the United States and Europe always ended the same.

Ashford is a pedophile.

For most of his life, he has buried his emotions and masked his long-secreted attraction. It wasn't until recently that Ashford decided to throw off the shackles of pedophilia and shed light on what he says is a misunderstood "sexual orientation." Last year, he became perhaps one of the first pedophiles in the world to put his name and face on a Web site to publicly profess his love for children.

"I am tired of being forced into the shadows by society," Ashford said recently in an e-mail interview. "I have committed no crime, therefore there is no good reason that I should have to hide myself. As long as pedophiles continue to hide, there is no chance of them ever being accepted."

Ashford, an American expatriate living in the south of France, believes it is time the public learned pedophiles are different from child molesters in that they enjoy a romantic and emotional, but not always sexual, connection with children. He also believes it is time for a child rights movement that will give kids more say in how to live their lives.

Ashford, 35, an unemployed business consultant, is part of a pioneering group of pedophiles from around the world who also believe pedophilia is not a sexual disorder that can be cured by medication and psychotherapy. He believes, rather, that it is a sexual orientation with which he was born, and therefore, cannot deny.

This is a view shared by numerous pro-pedophilia groups around the world. In the United States, the most notorious may be the New York-based North American Man/Boy Love Association, or NAMBLA.

According to its Web site, NAMBLA's goal is to end the "extreme oppression" of men and boys in mutually consensual relationships by educating the public on the "benevolent nature of man/boy love," and working to abolish age-of-consent laws.

NAMBLA representatives did not return telephone messages left at their New York offices seeking comment, but the association's Web site is clear about its agenda.

"NAMBLA calls for the empowerment of youth in all areas, not just the sexual. We support greater economic, political and social opportunities for young people and denounce the rampant ageism that segregates and isolates them in fear and mistrust," the Web site says. "We support the rights of youth as well as adults to choose the partners with whom they wish to share and enjoy their bodies."

The Danish Pedophile Association is another group with global reach and may offer the most-extensive set of links to similar pro-pedophilia groups on the World Wide Web. Like Ashford, it takes the position that pedophilia is not a sexual disorder, but an orientation that cannot be changed.

Pedophilia "has all the same characteristics as homosexuality, transvestism, fetishism, etc.," said Dan Markussen, spokesman for the 100-member association, which was founded in 1985. "Sexual orientation is defined as a lifelong attraction, which pedophilia obviously is."

Homosexual groups keep their distance

The assertion by pedophiles that their attraction to children is a natural sexual orientation with which they were born has done little to gain them allies. It is especially touchy for homosexuals -- who were similarly maligned in the past -- because gay advocacy groups used the same argument to win segments of social acceptance over the past two decades.

That, coupled with the notion of man/boy love, has caused gay rights groups to distance themselves from the pro-pedophilia movement to preserve their efforts for acceptance in the mainstream.

"We completely condemn these types of organizations. There's no question about it," said Michael Young, the associate director of regional media for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD.

While many may disagree with the pedophiles' claim that they are born with a taste for the young, a leading American doctor on the subject of pedophilia is willing to concede they are half-right.

"I think it can be both a disorder and an orientation," said Dr. Frederick Berlin, founder of the Sexual Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

While he believes people who are sexually attracted to children should not feel ashamed of their condition, he also says they should not act on them.

"Many of these people need help in not acting on these very intense desires in the same way that a drug addict or alcoholic may need help," he said. "We don't for the most part blame someone these days for their alcoholism. We do believe that these people have a disease or a disorder, but we also recognize that in having it that it impairs their function, that it causes them suffering that they need to turn for help."

Markussen, the Danish Pedophile Association spokesman, said that Berlin's line of thinking only leads to further public persecution of pedophiles.

"If it were a disease then it should be possible to cure it," Markussen said. "A few therapists have claimed that they could cure pedophilia as well as homosexuality, etc., but follow-up studies have never confirmed this."

Berlin, who also is a consultant on the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' ad hoc committee on sexual abuse, said many pedophiles have an unhealthy tendency to think of children as "mini adults," and want to lavish them with all the rights and responsibilities currently given only to those over the age of 18.

Battle continues to change perception

Pedophiles need to understand that "children are not mini adults, they can be harmed by these activities," he said.

Ashford said pedophiles see children as nothing more than children and are attracted by their innocence.

"This is a total nonsense," he said. "I do not see children as 'mini-adults' at all. I would argue that society sees them this way much more than I do. I see young people as individuals who see the world more clearly than many adults do, due to the fact that they have not yet been conditioned by society to see things the way that society wishes for them to."

Ashford and the other pedophile groups are quick to condemn child rape and those who prey upon children for sex. He said that while pedophiles and child molesters are often linked, they are in reality nothing alike. He blamed the media for distorting the difference.

"The media has an inaccurate conception of what a pedophile is, using the term 'pedophile' synonymously with 'child molester,'" he said. "In actual fact, most pedophiles are not child molesters at all and do not act out upon their desires, while many child molesters are not actually pedophiles. Numerous studies support this claim, and indeed, many anti-pedophile organizations state this as well."

Still, pedophiles, and NAMBLA in particular, fail to get the same support from organizations that traditionally stand up for groups fighting for acceptance, such as the American Civil Liberties Union.

"We're not taking any position on NAMBLA," said Larry Frankel, legislative director for the ACLU in Pennsylvania.

Despite public outrage, pedophiles will continue to press on through their intricate links of Web sites. Both Ashford, who has a daughter from his failed marriage, and Markussen claim to be celibate pedophiles, which they say has led to a feeling of emptiness in their lives.

"For a long time, I found a physical level of satisfaction by having relationships with adult women or with teenage girls over the age of consent," said Ashford, who claims to have twice tried to take his own life. But "emotional or spiritual satisfaction is not a possibility. The feeling of futility leaves me frequently sad and depressed."

Markussen's tale is similar.

"Most pedophiles lead a terrible life," Markussen said. "They can't tell anybody about their feelings. They have to fake interest in adults. Many live in social isolation which leads to weirdness."

Both Ashford and Markussen maintain they have never been arrested for having sexual relations with minors. Ashford said that because he has broken no laws, he does not fear retaliation from law enforcement for his beliefs.

"I am certain that law enforcement knows about me since a number of anti-pedophile organizations have informed me that they have reported me to the FBI, Interpol and other law enforcement agencies," he said. "But since I am guilty of no crimes, I do not see why this is a reason for fear. I believe that there is a greater danger from vigilante activity than from law enforcement. At the same time, I must remain mindful that official harassment and persecution of pedophiles does exist."


You mention Asia and Thailand, Anthony, in your question of how to prevent child abuse before it happens – my main objective – and the very thing that frustrates me about the approach and the sensationalism that accompanies it today.

I suggest cases like the Bill Henson controversy and the AFP's continual desire to exaggerate and take credit (as they did with the past week's child porn busts to the fury of state counterparts) for all investigation done, similar to how they did about five or six years ago when they were only acting upon FBI supplied information, actually adds to the problem and rather than stopping child abuse, possibly increases it by creating a false sense of security.

Apart from the fact that $millions are put into the AFP which is growing alarmingly fatter by the year, gaining more power and demonstrating it can abuse that power (Dr Haneef), there are other ways they act that are entirely detrimental.

The massive publicity that has resulted in the past three or four weeks inevitably dies down. The general public is saturated with the matter until it loses interest – the Della Bosca / Belinda Neal idiotic matter then gains equal importance in the media, now an instrument of entertainment rather than real news.

Even I, now an interfering and gossiping pensioner who laps up all information, find it difficult to keep up with events – those with active lives, jobs etc. soon forget the events of six months ago. In this way, they believe that problems have been solved.

A huge child porn bust with bloated and exaggerated figures from the AFP of "millions of pictures of children from babies to 18 year olds" (18!!) gives the impression of a million children somehow saved – two have actually been removed from one family for their safety. As in the prosecution of a NSW police prosecutor similar figures were bandied about – 'thousands of porn pictures on his computer including the very worst ". But in fact (which still meant he committed an awful crime) it boiled down to around twelve films and pictures of young children being abused by adults – the rest were legal porn.

Does this matter? Yes because rubbery figures give the impression that a problem is being solved when it isn't. The vast general public is massaged into believing that the very real problem of child abuse (rampant in NSW in a variety of forms) mostly goes unchecked because there just aren't the funds and staff to investigate.

And as you mention Thailand then consider this: the AFP works with local Thai police (riddled with corruption), as does the FBI. It's a difficult relationship with Thais resentful of their foreign counterparts who are better resourced and "impose" their will because of a variety of pressures (particularly the FBI though only meant to operate within the USA).

Their object is to catch foreign paedophiles from their own countries for prosecution in Thailand or their home country. A worthwhile action – but it comes with a considerable price.

There are two types of NGO's working throughout Asia – the ones who actively co-operate with local police and the AFP and the minority who try to act alone and work at ground level trying to actually help the very real problems there. They are the ones that suffered under the Howard government; the others prospered with additional funding that doesn't always go where it should.

But an example of how foreign police forces co-ordinate local police in Asia (and now a particular problem where the local plods have been conducting active blackmail programs and conduct an 'arrest and bribe your way out " scam). Remember, the AFP has form here as in the people smuggling dramas in Indonesia.

A suspected paedophile may be "set-up" in Bangkok by a young lad or girl luring him into an assignation; back to a hotel where the police will burst in and an arrest made. If he's Australian it will make headlines here.

Or an active paedophile will be arrested in the act and similar happens here – sensational headlines, the Hetty Johnsons of the Asian variety will garner media space here on television, radio and newspapers. In Asian newspapers the arrested person's picture will be splashed across pages, often with photos of the children who were with him at the time. All well and good – they will pay a price for their crime.

But what happens to these kids once they have given their signed statements?

They go straight out the back door onto the streets again to live the same life, probably being abused again within days by foreigners and locals (something no-one seems to believe goes on – the vast amount of child abuse conducted by Asians themselves). Sadly, they have been used twice over. Just bait in a trap.

The problem is masculinity

As I understand it the intention of this thread started by Scott Dunmore was to explore what goes into the making of a paedophile...

It seems to me that there are many pathways by which these people become child abusers.  It is an intriguing question and one that exercises some researchers.  Recently I was told of one major study in the USA in which the subjects of the study, all convicted of child sex abuse offences and incarcerated at the time of the study, were given total immunity from further prosecution for admissions relating to offences other than those for which they'd been convicted.  Otherwise, of course, they would not have participated.  The researchers then felt obliged to store their records of interviews offshore so as to avoid the FBI seizing and searching them for further evidence.  So it is an ethically difficult area to study.

From recall - the study showed that a small minority were prior victims of child sex abuse themselves.  This was a final blow to the idea that the majority of offenders are neurotically acting out their own traumatic abuse.  Interestingly the study also showed that the majority of offenders were educated, in skilled jobs and about a third had tertiary qualifications. 

Class has little explanatory power here - in Australia the recent arrests for possession of child porn netted school teachers and a police officer while several infamous convictions in NSW were against a Lord Mayor,  a parliamentarian and a lawyer in the DPP; one judge committed suicide years ago before he could be brought to trial. So offending is not confined to the ill-educated or the economically and politically subordinate classes.

Recent articles in the SMH and elsewhere have highlighted that access to internet porn has played a major role by 'educating' the desire of otherwise 'normal' men and orienting it towards illicit sex with minors.  It appears that men can progress from fantasy (an act of imagination) to practice more readily once they are exposed to images of children being sexually abused.  Moreover, apparently becoming part of a network of paedophiles gives access to information on 'how to do it' in terms of grooming techniques applied to vulnerable children and (most often) their vulnerable mothers.  

It is difficult to locate a common factor amongst offenders amongst whom there are priests, scout leaders, teachers, lawyers, judges and tradies as well as uncles, fathers, brothers, cousins and so on.  These people are not psychopaths in the sense that we would normally understand the term.  They are socially functional and high achievers.  Some offenders clearly are psychopaths (see a recent story in the Austrlian about one such in the N.T.) but they are a minority.

At the broadest level we know two things: the overwhelming majority of offenders are male and, in comparison to victims, they are powerful. 

This leaves us staring at an unavoidable truth: the abuse of masculine authority is at the core of the problem. It is overwhelmingly a problem of masculinity. 

I return often to Carole Pateman's book The Sexual Contract because it seems to have real explanatory authority.  She argues that modernity has generalised and democratised the pre-modern royal right of access to and control over women's (and children's) bodies.  In other words, what we have on our hands is the globalised spread of the sort of expectations that lay behind the old droit de seigneur in which all men may now exercise the sort of imperial authority over women and children that once was only exercised by by kings and their courtiers.  

Global mass tourism and the internet mean that such power may be exercised over the women and children of economically subordinate nations such as those where child sex tourism operates - Thailand and Sri Lanka  for example - or in countries where economic and political collapse leave the door open to extraordinary forms of predation - the Eastern European states, for example.

But the practice of sexual predation on children does not respect national boundaries.  The predators want to reproduce what they see and learn that they can do and then do so within their communities of residence. 

I have not been putting a case for what we can do to prevent the problem.  I've been trying to understand how the problem has developed.  To put it concisely then it seems to be the case that men, as currently constructed, prey on children because they can. That is the problem.  And they do so within a culture of the sexualisation of children by the media (of course) in advertising, entertainment, the visual and performing arts as well as the internet.

 Finally, it is necesary to say that not all men behave in such ways.  Not all forms of masculinity are predatory.  But I think it reasonable to argue that there is a dominant masculinity that is out of control and that is fuelling this development.


Thanks for your thoughtful response, Anthony, but I'm afraid I have problems with your conclusion.

I don't think human nature changes significantly with culture. There have been many dominant men in the past as now who are not sexually attracted to children; rather their rapaciousness is directed toward women. It is estimated that 1 in 200 males extant are related to Genghis Khan and probably a similar number of women; the men we know about because of the Y chromosome passed directly from father to son. Similarly the male population of Ireland is disproportionately represented by an early king (Neill, I seem to recall).

There's a lot more to this than attitude.

Victims everywhere

John Pratt is correct in his comments.

What concerns me about the successive waves of "pedo panic" that we get is that I believe other motives drive it rather than a genuine desire to protect children. Many politicians and police are genuine in their motives but the whole matter is approached in such a fashion to deliberately create sensationalism that does little to help.

Consider the busts of the past few days – it's reminiscent of the way the AFP approach these cases and even has their Queensland counterparts mystified as to why they went public so early. I'm cynical enough now after so many rotten scandals the AFP wished to claim credit for before anyone else.

They did it five years ago when they acted upon information and work done by the FBI – why would it be any different today ?

Read between the lines and you will still only find that three children have been removed from one charged person's home, for their safety, and then consider the hundreds of thousands of reported child abuse cases in Australia (there is no breakdown in those figures issued as to which are sexually based) that go unattended or become just a statistic on the books because government will not allocate funds to employ staff to assist.

If they can provide the AFP with $46 million and 300 staff to track net child abuse images they can provide ten times that for real life cases. Perhaps they may need permission from the Daily Telegraph first as it doesn't produce the same juicy headlines.

And certainly in NSW prisons, rehabilitation services are only available for the most hardened cases. There are absolutely no services provided outside prison for those who may wish to access them. Psychiatrists and psychologists constantly state they can help with those who may consider they are paedophiles and have not acted upon their impulses. Try to find a shrink on Medicare, though – you have Buckley's chance.

NSW probationary services are actually bound as part of their official policies to provide such assistance to those released . They do nothing.

The panic created and the government / police approach also creates other victims along the way.

Consider the Milton Orkopoulos case: the Labor government enacted a law specifically to deprive him of his superannuation. This is law-making that is utterly contemptible in the way it was enacted to add additional punishment to one person (and no doubt done because he had embarrassed his party).

But it doesn't affect him – he is taken care of in the NSW jail system for the next ten years – the real victims are his innocent family members, Already reduced to virtual poverty as any court case like that will decimate a person's life savings (again – more punishment), his wife and family are deprived of what they are due. This will be repeated many times over the coming year as the numbers charged in the past few days do likewise. Dozens of innocent victims will be created when family members are reduced to poverty.

Apparently the children of perpetrators of crime are to be ignored in this matter – their suffering is of no interest.

And why would it when you have a new juicy tale today of a minister and his MP wife in ridiculous nightclub scuffle that may or may not be true, but is so petty it isn't worth more than a minute’s notice.

(Although they are guilty of excessive bad taste in going to a nightclub called Iguanas – a name you would find on the Miami beachfront.)

Orkopoulos and the OPC

Yes Michael, I agree his superannuation should have been left in place for his family.  Despite his crimes he did make useful contributions while in office and both he and his family were entitled to remuneration in the form of superannuation for that. If he had been a Commonwealth Public Servant and had successfully suicided instead of failing, his wife would have been awarded a percentage of that superannuation. Now I suppose she gets nothing.

I was utterly shocked to learn of what his secret life had been. Ian and I got to see some of the good work which he did when he was chairing the Parliamentary Inquiry into the NSW Protective Commissioner's Office around 1999 after scandals in that Office. It was a very thorough inquiry and brought about some real change in the culture of that Office which we ourselves had had terrible problems with over the financial management for a relative under its control.

Ian presented a very substantial submission to that inquiry which Orkopoulus complimented him on.  

I guess it is ironic indeed that a child abuser chaired such an inquiry and then produced a report that led to real improvement in the management of the affairs of vulnerable people. Ironic indeed and we are still quite shocked at his fall from grace.

Brave New World

Thanks for the link Anthony, it fleshed out a general knowledge and a reminder of other stuff.

The science and methodology are precisely what I had in mind but whereas PTSD is self explanatory as to cause, we know very little about paedophilia. It appears to be in the early stages of research and I have little doubt hampered by unwilling participants and their surprising (given the hype we are exposed to) relative rarity. I would like to point out that I do not rule out causes other than brain pathology. The disproportionate representation of the clergy amongst the ranks of paedophiles is giving me pause.

The science of understanding the human mind is still in its infancy and we have only nibbled at the edges of the feast provided by our understanding of genetics.

We are a new species, only 2-250, 000 years into evolution and I suspect an aberration. For much of our history we held our place in the scheme of things, not unduly impacting on the environment or other species but we are very special by virtue of our intelligence, dexterity and communicative abilities. The latter saw to it that experience was not lost, knowledge gained by one generation was passed on to the next and built on to a point roughly 6,000 years ago that it achieved a “critical mass”.

No longer hunter gatherers, many communities became agrarian. We started to change the environment, favouring some species over others both flora and fauna, deliberately exterminating some that were in competition with us for food or by carelessly destroying the environment upon which they were dependant.

So successful have we been that as a species we have achieved vermin status. Rest assured that will be corrected either by our design or natures’.
If it is to be by our design we cannot do so as long as ignorance and social disharmony remain. Our intelligence has also resulted in discernment; of all species we alone discriminate by melanin or minor physiological differences. We invented metaphysics to explain the natural world, failing to accept our fallibility and limitations in understanding and in the process added another element to social disharmony.

I think our cleverness is the seed of our destruction so dependant have we become on technology and finite resources.

I'm pessimistic about us having the time but I can imagine a "Brave New World", not so much one of "designer babies" but one that can work toward “auto evolution”.
Jenny, missed it but will try and get hold of it, the sort of stuff that rivets me.

Fiona, my world is shattered, who’d have thought you were a perve?

Have Part 2 on tape

Have Part 2 on tape, Scott, and will bring it up next time. It seems it was the most important Part but I will try to get Part 1 as well down here. One of the most interesting programs I have seen of late.

Bird brains

Thanks Scott for clearing that one up. Apes hey, that makes them even more like us galahs, er monkeys.

Bloody randy bunch them apes; 20 times a day or more, seesh. We albatrosses get around to it once every couple of years and if we lose the instruction book we sometimes forget what to do anyway. Christ ! (sorry Jenny), if I were one of them apes I'd be totally rooted (sorry Jenny) - but I suppose I'd no longer need that bloody instruction book.

Life can be really confusing for some. In humans I suppose it has something to do with brain size; the bigger the brain the more complex the species.

Sometimes it is comforting to be a bird brain.

Understanding the complexities of the human brain and its relationships will always be difficult, probably impossible. For just as our external universe is infinite and largely unknown, so to our internal universe. Combined they become what we know subjectively as reality; which is but a fleeting moment of individual awareness in eternity.

It is very sad that some very sick people can be so cruel and callously destroy  forever another life, the only life that they will ever know; for a bird brain the solution is simple: take those sick and twisted bastards (sorry Jenny) out the back paddock and top 'em.

But that's the bird brain speaking.

Three sorries does not a.....make

Now Justin, if I was not still trying to dry out my Bible that the Scot managed to tip my early morn cuppa over I would find a suitable proverb to cleanse your bird brain with.  So sorrry, you will just have to wait. 

BTW, what makes you think I can't swear? Seems you were not around in the days when a cow stood her hoof and full half tonne on the back of my hand on a concrete floor in a minus 9 frost. Nor when I turned on the boiling tap by mistake and held said hand under it for 10 seconds for pain relief.  Now why would it take the senses 10 seconds to distinguish between hot and cold pain. Have yet to figure that out .....but swear. Just ask the Scot.  

You city folk just don't realise what we dairy maids went through so you could have those bloody lattes. Enough to make any lady swear. But take the name of the Lord in vain, that is different. So two sorries only accepted.

Now Scott, talking of cold, did you see that SBS program on the search for Cold Zero last night? Absolutely riveting and note the contribution of such research to the mapping of the human brain's magnetic code.  Mabye it will contribute to our understanding of the issue of paedophilia and a lot more as well.

As for the way they used lasers and were able to slow the speed of light, one has to stand in awe of the minds of those physicists. Chemistry was always my strong point and fascination at school, but physics was not taught to girls back in the fifties, well not in my school anyway, much to my great regret, but it is never too late I guess. That program was really good because it was so easy to understand the basic physics and there was not the usual drowning out music that so often accompanies SBS documentaries making it impossible to hear the explanatory dialogue.

Back in the 70s Ian wrote a booklet titled Major Unifying Theories of Science. He is updating it and it is really worth a read. I've put my order in with a new awakening of interest.

Paedophiles are victims too

Paedophiles, like homosexuals, are often persecuted. Maybe they are victims too. It is not well understood what generates sexual desire within us. Maybe paedophiles, like homosexuals, have no control over their sexual thoughts. They may have just been born that way.

I know that children should be protected. The crime is the physical assault, in the same way that rape is an assault. Anyone having sex with a child should be charged with rape. It is the assault that is the crime. Most people cannot control their sexual thoughts. It is not the thought that is the problem - it is when the thought leads to an attack.

The recent arrests of "paedophiles" around the world which has led many to suicide and ruined the careers of many more is an attack on privacy. What people do in the privacy of their homes is not a threat to our society. I find that the hatred generated is the real problem.

We spend millions on "thought police" and millions more gaoling people who have not hurt anyone. We need to have compassion for all.

Why is it alright to see violence in the form of rape and murder on our television or movie screens and yet a "paedophile" who engages in his or her fantasies commits a crime?

I say again: our criminal system should protect us from deeds not thoughts.

Protecting the children

John: "The recent arrests of "paedophiles" around the world which has led many to suicide and ruined the careers of many more is an attack on privacy. What people do in the privacy of their homes is not a threat to our society."

I have to disagree with you there, John. These people are viewing pictures of children being sexually abused and violated. Real kids being abused, not actors. The fact is that more and more children are being abused and the pictures are being circulated on the net.These paedophiles are sanctioning those crimes on innocent children by downloading and viewing those pictures. They are providing a "market" so to speak and are therefore in my opinion complicit in this horrendous crime.

And this, from a New York Times article last year.

At least some men convicted of sexual abuse say that child pornography from the Internet fueled their urges. In a recent interview, one convicted pedophile serving a 14 year sentence in a Canadian federal prison said that looking at images online certainly gave him no release from his desires — exactly the opposite.

“Because there is no way I can look at a picture of a child on a video screen and not get turned on by that and want to do something about it,” he said. “I knew that in my mind. I knew that in my heart. I didn’t want it to happen, but it was going to happen.”

I am more concerned about the rights and protection of our children, John, which I believe takes precedence over all else.

Kathy, I agree

Kathy, I agree with your point, re "protecting the children" but believe you are being a little unfair on John, as to his thoughtful post.

You quoting of the recent arrest of paedophiles sentence is a little incomplete as to meaning, because just a couple sentences away John says"

"...children should be protected. The physical assault is the crime, same as rape is a crime."

Richard: Paul, for some reason the second half of your last sentence didn't come through. I'll add if you can resend.

Monkey Business

Pedophilia and homosexuality are quite common amongst the bobobo monkeys. In fact it is compulsory. They get it any which way they can and often; and for lots of reasons; every hour or so. The only taboo is mothers don't have sex with their male offspring after the age of 5, when they become reproductive. Otherwise life for the bobobo monkey is one long day and night orgy involving men, women and their children.

Infanticide in the bobobo community is apparently very rare.

Remember; there's a little bit of the monkey in all of us, except of course if you are an albatross - in which case you simply substitute "monkey" with galah.

Apes, Justin

I'm certain you meant "Bonobo" dear albatross, a gracile sub-species of chimpanzees. Yup, they go for it.

More later, it's late and unwise to blog with a skinful after a busy evening.

Fiona: I can also remember many happy hours observing the dog-faced baboons at Melbourne Zoo. It was particularly interesting to observe the antics of the (heterosexual) youngsters when they managed to evade Big Daddy's attention. I also rather enjoyed watching the reactions of the humans outside the enclosure...

How can we understand

"Churnalism" is the word coined by writer Nick Davies in his book Flat Earth News that describes the woeful state of what passes for the media these days. It came to me when I read of the child porn busts over the past few days – from the SMH to the ABC and every outlet from TV to radio, the same words were repeated ad finitum

They were of course simply repeating an AFP media release. I guarantee not one bothered to double check facts and figures as a journalist would have 30 years ago. A cosmetic company receives the same treatment – take it as gospel, when flogging a new face cream.

But reading closely I see some dodgy figures – the police claim that millions of pics have been found (I don't dispute that) and the AFP are "having problems trying to identify the children in them". Yet closer reading also reveals they are only talking about 99 images accessed on a European website. The other material must have been collected elsewhere.

A retired FBI agent put this matter in context in Time recently:

"the problem is we are dealing with material that could have been produced up to 40 years ago or in the 1960's when Scandinavian countries churned out child porn en masse when it wasn't illegal "

So many of the "children" the AFP claim to be looking for could well be in the in their 50's by now!

Another tricky problem is the claim that every time a pic is looked at – "the child is assaulted once again". (AFP). A rather tenuous claim – it would mean the police officers, court officials, defence counsel, prosecutors, judges, magistrates and juries commit that crime. There is no provision in the law for anyone to commit a crime in the solving or prosecuting of the crime. Or what about the thousands of innocent net surfers who do come across illegal material by chance? Surfing the net at times is like leaving all your doors and windows open for someone to toss a bag of dope inside for which you could be busted.

The ever cranky (but always correct) Alex Mitchell warns in Saturday's SMH of how ASIO & the AFP are becoming huge organisations almost answerable to no-one and they ask for more and more money every year. Does a good "pedo scare" help that along? It does in the USA & UK.

And what provisions are there for convicted paedophiles when they are finally released from prison? If anyone thinks that NSW probation services provide any support in or out of jail they are dreaming. Carr's law & order campaigns only required the building of more and more jails but nothing for rehabilitation or prevention.

Which is why I'll probably support Hetty Johnson who has announced she will move to Sydney to hector the Rudd & Iemma governments to provide millions of dollars to prevent abuse or nip it in the bud. As it is, it's a huge problem in NSW – from child neglect, physical abuse, sexual assault and mental cruelty that goes unchecked while NSW Labor dreams up another new tunnel or pay-as-you-go freeway.

As for that other Johnson – Vaughan, I wonder how he feels about the 16 year old – barely a child – arrested in Queensland in the latest child porn busts. Does Vaughan advocate he kill himself? And isn't it still a crime to assist in a suicide? Does that apply to those who exhort people to as well?

Understanding the problem requires identifying it first – and I don't see any real attempts being made to do that.

Thanks as well

A good idea for this thread Scott.  One way in to study of the area is through 'traumatology' which is linking the biological effects of sex abuse and trauma to behavioural manifestations.  Below is one link to the work of Bessel van der Kolk who, as I understand the story, is a psychotherapist who retrained as a neurologist in order to look at brain function in trauma victims.  He did this because he kept finding common behavioural patterns in his trauma patients regardless of the nature of the trauma. A genius and the sort of person who allows one to maintain faith in human decency and medical science. 

Happy reading:

 "The Body Keeps the Score: Memory and the Evolving Psychobiology of Post-traumatic Stress",

There are other readings on this page that are excellent especially the work of Perry.

Dr Van der Kolk offers hope

Anthony, Van der Kolk is indeed a genius in the field of trauma. He was recently in Australia giving a number of talks and I am hoping he will return again. If anyone can offer hope to those who suffer from PTSD he can.

I recall a program on the ABC a couple of years ago where Vietnam veterans with PTSD were attending a workship and the first thing that was said to them was that there was no cure. I felt that was a very negative approach and also something is not strictly true.  I know that neuro linguistic programming that I got to study in the 70s can give total release from the disorder. However, what works for one person may not necessarily work for another, so requisite variety in approach is needed.

I do not think it surprising that there is commonality in behaviour patterns regardless of the nature of the trauma suffered. I have certainly seen that and in fact I would have expected it, even though one kind of behavioural response to trauma can be more life restricting than another for a particular individual. The work done with adult children of alcoholics in the 70s demonstrated that. It can have a lot to do with the role the child took on in the dysfunctional home in order to cope. The avoiding child can fare worse in adulthood than the one who stepped in to try and pick up the responsibility of the neglecting or abusing parent, even though both may later be suffering from PTSD. 

But the neuorlogy is little understood, and that is where van der Kolk's work is so exciting. It seems to me that given understanding an awareness is not necessarily curative then something has to be going on in the brain that prevents that curing, at least in some people.

The problem with PTSD is that many people have lived with it for many years. They know little else than this thing that runs their lives. Sudden release, though desirable, can in fact lead to serious problems of adjustment. You have heard of the prisoner who simply wanted to go back to gaol because the world out here was such a frightening place. It is not so different. One wonders about the psychology of the homeless person who, no matter how one tries to help, prefers to continue living under a bridge. Same thing. One has to be very mindful of the extent to which a sufferer has made his/her suffering his/her life raft for a very long time.

Neurology is giving us so much more data to work with these days in terms of understanding of mental illness in particular and I am sure it will throw increasing light on such issues as paedophilia, homosexualtiy, bisexualtiy, addictions and so forth.  I am particularly interested in developments in relation to schizophrenia.

Once we unlock all the secrets of the brain then the real work can begin. The trouble is a little knowledge can be a bad thing when the public starts to play with it. Did you see last night the report on the trend of healthy adults in the US, and I suppose elsewhere, to take pills used to treat ADHD in order to get their brains to work harder so they can give more to the job? Now that I would not think is such a good idea. Messing with the brain when it is not necessary is not something one should do lightly. 

Anyway, all this is marginally relevant to Scott's thread. But paedophilia is not something I know much about. I have just seen what it does to the victims. Obviously the abused person can suffer from PTSD and no doubt needs to get some sense of justice in order to help deal with the anger that often and understandably is a large part of their on going suffering.

What A Mess

Correction Scott Dunmore- Philip Bell died of cancer in jail about 3 years ago.

All intelligence seems to fly out the window when we have sensational cases like Bill Henson and then the huge porn busts of the past few days.

After one teacher charged has committed suicide we have a Queensland National MP Vaughan Johnson saying :

"If they all went and did it first up, we wouldn't have this problem. They must be guilty if they commit suicide ... maybe I am too harsh but I've got no time for that.''

No, your not being harsh Vaughan- you're showing what an ignorant sod you are, as one who makes our laws but has no comprehension of how the law works. Presumption of innocence Vaughan ? ever heard of it ?. Perhaps an innocent man has just committed suicide knowing what he faces; the Vaughan Johnson's of the world.

Toss in the state and federal police ,both with bruised egos because one got in ahead of the other. Then add in the Miranda Devines of the world who perpetuate the mis-information and can't even check her facts.

As you brought up Philip Bell, Scott, so did Devine but mixed him up with the notorious peadophile Dolly Dunn who she claimed used the defence of the old Greek man/boy love tales as a defence. He did no such thing-copped a gulty plea and never went near the witness box.

She did also include Bell as using the same defence but he did nothing of the kind-he pleaded guilty and just said he wished people would refer to him as what he was-a hebephile-one who desires post pubescent boys and not a peadophile-one who desires pre-pubescent children. People who knew him say that was the pedantic Bell -always correcting others on their english.

But aren't these laws also complex?. What's the case when a bloke is called a peadophile because he has sex with a 17 year old but then the state, like NSW changes the age of consent to 16 ?. Or if he travels to Italy or Croatia where the age is 14 ?. Denmark 15 ?. What are they then ?.

Perhaps Philip Bell should have lived and confined his activities to Spain-a civilised country as any on this earth-where the legal age is 13 !.

And to throw in a complication far more complex that Hensons, what if an adult took a 16 year old to the Victorian border (legal age 16) and South Australian border (legal age 17) and they lay half accross both states and had sex ?. Work that one out. !

Chimp kiddyporn in the bushes and what they would do

Thanks, Scott, for bringing up the background topic behind the issues lately discussed.

You describe animal infanticide; such also happens with humans such as the Hunter Valley women, but do you have any examples of animal sexual preference for non-sexually matured animals of the same species? Sexuality amongst animals, especially mammals, is strongly regulated by innate drives and inhibitors. Has there been an animal model for such a predilection amongst the higher order found or created in the laboratory yet?

I am not sure those of homosexual designation like the idea of a brain pathology any more than a behavioural choice. Is that the current model for paedophile behaviour? I had not read any evidence recently being in a different field at present, but with new MRI imaging this would be an area to study. I suspect there would be the usual opiate-like receptors lighting up on exposure to child porn. Perhaps this is a possible screening tool. Interesting implications.

Is it OK to have fine art (non-modelled of course) depictions of child erotica/sexually explicit acts when there is thus no victim? I would like to say yes as I also do not like "thought crimes" to be a punishable event, no matter how foul.

The current laws regarding such seem wrong . A bit like being charged for assault just because one happens to be watching in the crowd at a football match where the props let fists fly. I cannot help thinking the criminal is the maker of the image and how they deal with the child involved there is where the crime starts and finishes with the creator of the image and any who send it on or portray it for further viewing. Not the person who accidentally views it.

Yet – there is evidence that visualising and reinforcing behaviour with positive gratification (ie sexual fantasy with arousal and ecstatic orgasm) reinforces such fantasy and there is strong suggestion that such is enacted upon when able/available. Most perpetrators also fantasise and use such child porn/imagined porn.

Instead a different approach would be that used in some places, where there is negative reinforcment for arousal from such images and penile plethismgraphs( Try saying that while drunk) are used (measure tumescence to various stimulatory images, again a possible screening tool for males – no studies can I find so far, may come in useful for future priests as we read yet again of another one :{ ). I remember back in the days of uni when such studies were taught there was a group who arrived in trench coats and dark glasses ... hmm. Some do not see the science in sex study as that respectable unfortunately.

Have in the past had some professional involvement with such issues and crimes. Totally agree that locking up rockspiders, as they are known inside, does little but put them at risk of harm (the latter beatings wrong no matter how vengeful one may feel) and by releasing them with still the intact urges, does nothing to prevent more harm to children.

Either kill them or cure them some say.. :) And some might soften that to never release unless cured or tag or survey etc. Yet is this current state acceptable? Only, perhaps, if one gives it a mandatory life sentence with permanent parole after the usual period and assessment required as to risk.

If we believed in the natural way for such deeds being treated by animal community, then imagine we just could just be chimps and tear them limb from limb with much raucous screaming as in David Attenborough’s scene. It's a bit like a more primitive stoning. Ah, cathartic but does it improve society and make children safer? Well, yes in the chimp world, but think of the mess on the carpet.

It is well and truly time for that National Royal Commission, but let's be careful of a proper agenda setting and screen the judges involved first very carefully (PP tool?) or we will get the Howard style waste of time political whitewash . And it seems Labor State party apparatuses, definitely NSW but even in Adelaide, may be a bit nervous of such results and revealed cover-ups. Driving can be so risky in the desert.

Wow, let's announce it just before the week of World Youth Day, a reminder to all of what is really important to us all and how organisations better pay attention. I am sure it would cost less than $136 million and better spent if done properly.

Well done Scott, bringing such to discussion. I would only criticise using infanticide in the topic as there are some who already have difficulty teasing out what is the issue which you seemed to be targeting: paedophile behaviour, why, who, and what can we do to stop and reduce it. They will probably see infanticide as the artistic expression of freedom by an angsted mother and should be tolerate and venerated if done in art galleries in dark lighting with the DVD of such rated PG.

Very remiss of me

"I am not sure those of homosexual designation like the idea of a brain pathology any more than a behavioural choice. Is that the current model for paedophile behaviour?"

I should have addressed this first. Not to my knowledge and neither should it be a model except in the most general terms. I'd be horrified to learn anybody thinks I'm conflating the two.

To give you an idea of the compexities involved have a look at this (good old Wikipedia.)

For homosexuals reading this, please do not feel objectified.

Nice one Angela

"They will probably see infanticide as the artistic expression of freedom by an angsted mother ", I'll have to pay that.

Thanks for your input, you raised some interesting points.

I'm not an expert on anything but to the best of my knowlege paedophilia is peculiarly human. Also, as far as I'm aware, we share our "normal" sexual behaviour only with primates in so far as sexual activity being used for social purposes.

One of the things coming out of the Henson business that has my lip curling is the denial by some that his work has no sexual connotations because if they can't see it, I can in some of his images. The difference between you and me is that I'm comfortable with the depiction of pubescent sexuality in a non salacious way. Frankly, I think they're being gutless.

Marilyn, for some reason I intuitively feel that the rape of children by those close to them is something different to paedophilia. I can't put my finger on it but the fact that they engage in normal sex as well might be an indication. Also the occasional complicity of mothers, sometimes to a ghastly extent, is another point.

At this point I can't do any better than that, I'm very much a right brain thinker and much of my thought processes are pattern recognition and analogous sampling.

Michael, it doesn't seem that long ago that Phillip was extradited. You sure get around.

Thank you Scott for two things

One of the things coming out of the Henson business that has my lip curling is the denial by some that his work has no sexual connotations because if they can't see it, I can in some of his images. The difference between you and me is that I'm comfortable with the depiction of pubescent sexuality in a non salacious way. Frankly, I think they're being gutless.

Thank you Scott for having the guts to say that. The hysteria of at least two parties towards those of us who share that view about them and who saw real implications for the protection of children if such became the accepted norm under the guise of art, smacked of disingenuity to me.

Your piece poses many questions. Something that raised its head recently was the concern that some paedophiles and child abusers currently in gaol were deliberately not seeking early release, the view being given by the authorities that serving out their sentence essentially allowed them to go free and unfettered at the end back into the community. I cannot inmagine a paedophile being rehabilitiated easily in gaol any more than a drug addict. The civil libertarians of course object to tracking and offender lists. I suppose that is OK if you are not living next door to one and have young children. I think I would at least want to know.

I do not know how you strike a balance between protecting children and giving a person who has done his or her time a new chance.

I have known at least four people who were sexually abused as children in the most horrific way. One by her father, one by a step father, one by her brother and the other in a boy's boarding school. Two of the abusers went to gaol after they were exposed, two were never exposed, one being protected by his wife till the day he died despite the fact that her two daughters were his victims from the age of five. 

One abused girl went on to become a paedophile and is now in gaol herself. The other three victims all suffered marriage breakdowns and severe post traumatic stress. Three had children who therefore suffered broken homes.

No doubt others here know of similar stories.  For me to know at least four when I am not and never have worked in any area where one might have such cases brought to their attention tells us something about the likely extent of abuse. Those that do work in the area of child abuse would know the full horror and extent of it all.

Those who prey on the children close to them I suggest are probably just seeing it as convenient and also are possibly aware that certain protections within the family might help them escape notice. It would be hard for a girl to report her abuse to her own mother, especially if she were the only one in the family being abused and other siblings were not. Two of the cases I knew, after the child close to them managed to get away, did not stop abusing but looked for and found new victims.  So I am not sure I agree there is a difference as you suggest.

Child abuse leaves a terrible legacy which clearly can go beyond one generation. I consider myself fortunate not to have had Marilyn's experience but that does not stop me from believing one should set the barrier high when it comes to such things as photographing little girls in the way Henson did, let alone putting them on public exhibition. 

BTW No one to my knowledge suggested he was a paedophile or that the photos were pornographic in the sense we understand the word. They certainly had sexual connotations in my view. But if issues such as those were not relevant to the debate about those photos and the implications they had for child protection and standards of decency generally then it is hard to see just what basis for any debate there was in the first place.   What was the intent of the thread? Just to be a forum for outraged support for Henson and his so called art?

And I must say I am at loss to understand how the concern over those photos would in any way diminish the concern one has for the ills that beset so many millions of children around the world who are victims of child slavery, trafficking, starvation, mass murder and in the case of those mentally ill Bulgarian children I wrote about recently of downright neglect and cruelty. That is nothing more than a red herring. You either care about children world wide or you don't. If you care you do what you can and in my case that is quite a lot if only financially.

I care about animals too, and BTW Scott, mother pigs are known to eat their own piglets and Angela I would not like to say what that little Maltese Shitszu I once had, (the one of which Ian wrote he would like to sue the shit who bred him) tried to do to the other innocent I had. One of his less likeable traits I have to admit. Some reckon he had none, likeable that is. 

Animal Crackers

This is way off topic Jenny but I reserve a special detestation for animal breeders who are careless of the results they produce. Animals condemned to a life of suffering from physical deformity, others whose psychology is permanently impaired.

I'm somewhat disappointed that this thread, to date, has not attracted more information from others with expertise in this area but I realise that at the moment it is little understood.

What makes fathers do it

I strongly suspect that many like me who were abused as children by fathers, uncles, brothers, grandfathers or next door neighbours had the reaction that children that age should not be perved on like this.

However, I don't know anyone of us who thought it meant Henson was a pedophile or that it was pornography, although Paul thought for a time that is what I was saying.

I am appalled by the behaviour of Scipione, 2GB who just wanted a beat up, and the hijacking of Kevin Rudd with the full frontals without bars on them on national TV to get a response.

In his position I too was revolted that children that age were being photographed for display.

And I still would not allow my grand-daughters to be photographed in this way.

But, it was not pornography nor anything to do with pedophilia.


Marilyn Shepherd, what a difference your calm and thoughtful approach compared to some of the confrontationalist stuff from others elsewhere.

Anyone would the think the Henson affair is the end of life as we know it. Meanwhile, in a hundred countries across the world real suffering of a kind we could only imagine continues apace without many in our comfortable world even remotely aware of it.

But thinking more rationally there are tricks in the Henson debate – two issues, a tendency toward censorship further exploited by the right as oppositional to care for the young and vulnerable. Must this be so?

I would hate to see the media any more dumbed down than it is already: that just makes for a fantasy world that avoids facing up to, and instead just sanitises, all sorts of things, including ugly child abuse.

The crackdown continues

Does anyone get the impression that the AFP's "going public" on the paedoporn op has caught state police with their pants down?  Certainly this gives the impression of such a situation in Queensland.  There've been a few arrests in Adelaide over the last 24 hours too.  Part time male parents have had kids removed from their care.


Richard, You are hinting that a desperate  Mick Keelty was looking for a bit of media boostering and things are off target slightly, even in this case, after all?

social sciences

I agree, Scott. Firstly to your animal examples you could add chimpanzees. Attenborough highlighted a troupe beset by tensions caused by a female infant killer and her disturbed sons over some time.

Tangled Web tends to follow or parallel some other post modern debates exploring determinism versus free will, conscious subject /unconscious forces, nature versus nurture (dichotomous/oppositional through to complementary).

The debates seem to conclude for now a deterministic pattern, such as occurred with all, but with " wiggle-room" somehow built in, allowing for free will.

For example protagonists in Perverts in the Shrubbery: all contributors eventually assumed roles (blokey, feminine etc), based on the mix of biological social and cultural inscription that determined their individuality. As well, of course continuing to debate the actual issues, which meant within certain likely limits of their "humanity" a state that still allowing for a consciousness, conscience and free will of sorts.

As mentioned above, the "ethnological turn" definitely applies in our time and blog sites themselves are good examples, as folk in a technological age that challenges cognitive mapping seek a return from their uncertain state to a "virtual village"; a civil society where meaningful and value laden human interactions can recommence, over coming alienating atomising forces afoot in the technological new world. Like our ancestors in the jungle we gather together to keep out the strange movements, threats and sounds of the night, of our own virtual or simulacra wilderness at bay.

Now, may have a rest from here for a while. Meanwhile, have a look at this article in Eureka Street by a Jesuit priest and academic.

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