When thinking about a person who watches child pornography, it is understandable to automatically assume that all viewers are pedophiles, but, surprisingly, that is not the case.
What is a Pedophile?
Pedophilia is a diagnosable disorder where individuals have sexual fantasies or act out sexually with prepubescent children, typically aged 13 or younger. They can be sexually attracted to both sexes, regardless of their own sexual identity.
Pedophilia falls under paraphilia, which is a condition where individuals experience sexual arousal and gratification through fantasizing or engaging in sexual activity that is extreme or atypical.
It is hard to know the numbers regarding pedophiles, considering the large number of those unwilling to identify as such, but the highest estimate is that about 5 percent of men are pedophiles.
Neurobiology of Pedophiles
The Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Violence explains that sex offenders typically have lower IQs than those who are not sex offenders. Therefore, the younger the victim, the lower the IQ of the sex offender.
Also, the encyclopedia reveals that it is common for pedophiles to have suffered head injuries or been victims of sexual abuse as children. However, being a victim of sexual abuse or assault as a child does not guarantee growing up to be a pedophile. Rather, the majority of survivors do not grow up to become pedophiles.
Not to mention, the encyclopedia shows research that suggests there are differences in brain structure and amount of white matter between pedophiles and non-pedophiles.
Ultimately, when it comes to the brains of pedophiles, the encyclopedia emphasizes the structure of the brain, history of head injury, and cognitive ability. Although there is not a causal relationship between these attributes and pedophilia, there is significant evidence that suggests a relationship between these variables.
Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D., a professor at Santa Clara University and Stanford University, explains that pedophiles do not fit in just one stereotype.
In fact, he explains that pedophiles can be rich, poor, educated, married, straight, socially skilled or not. Plus, they can be educated and share religious beliefs with the society in which they live.
Pedophiles do not fall under just one category, and they often surprise people when they get caught. Usually, people they know do not see it coming.
Pedophiles and Child Pornography
After understanding more about what it means to be a pedophile, the question is how that relates to child pornography. Are pedophiles the only people watching child pornography? The short answer is no. However, there is more to this than you might expect.
Viewing child pornography can be an indicator that the viewer is a pedophile, but it is not a precondition of those who watch child pornography.
As we have discussed before, the typical consumer of child pornography is a white male with no prior convictions. Considering the prevalence of child pornography, logically, it does not make sense that only 5 percent of the male population consumes all of the child pornography—and there is research to support this logic.
While the motivations for those who view child pornography vary, it is worth noting that there are many reasons individuals engage, so they cannot all be classified the same way. Plus, it is essential to understand that pornography itself, can lead to individuals viewing child pornography.
As we have mentioned in a previous post, when individuals begin to view pornography continuously, they become used to what they watch. However, after a while, they get drawn into a cycle where they need more and riskier pornography to maintain the “high” they get from watching it. The content can escalate to orgies, BDSM, bestiality, and yes, child pornography. Some individuals have reported that they do not like or enjoy the more severe types of pornography, but they feel a need to view it anyway.
Studies have explained that it is like a drug addiction, where people need more and more to get the same high. Although there is debate surrounding whether individuals can truly be addicted to pornography or if it is just compulsory, there is no question that legal pornography, when used and abused, is a catalyst for child pornography.
The bottom line is that there has been an increase in child pornography online, offenders have multiple reasons for viewing (all unacceptable, of course), and pedophiles are not the only ones watching it.
Child pornography will not end if we do not take action to stop it. Here at the Innocent Lives Foundation, we are dedicated to identifying perpetrators and turning them over to law enforcement.
Join us in our mission to end this heinous crime.