It does not seem to be part of the psychological composite of females to sexually molest a child. That compulsion, whatever its origin, seems to lie deep within the male psyche.
A pedophile will usually exhibit a series of personality characteristics that are common in this type of offender. It is important to understand that these characteristics alone do not conclusively determine that a person is a pedophile. But if these indicators, combined with a pattern of behavior that arouses suspicion, are present then there may be enough probable cause to believe that the person is a pedophile. He carries on what can be termed “a special relationship” with a wife. Often pedophiles have failed marriages due to their sexual interests but remain in the marriage to mask their true intentions. Sadly, the wife sometimes knows about her husband’s preference, but prefers to keep quiet to avoid social stigma and disgrace. He displays a fascination or unusual interest in children. If an adult has an inordinate amount of interest in pre-pubescent children, it doesn’t confirm he is a pedophile, but it should at least arouse suspicion. He makes frequent references to children in exalted or exaggerated terms such as “pure,” “innocent,” ”God sent,” “blissful” and other descriptive labels that seem inappropriate and excessive. Remember that a pedophile cannot help the way he behaves and therefore will inadvertently reveal aspects about himself during speech. He has hobbies or interests that commonly belong in the realm of a child’s world such as toy collecting, building models of cars or planes. His home or room is decorated in a child’s theme. And often, that theme will reflect the age bracket of his preferred victim. He is over 30 years of age, single and has few or no friends his own age. He may also have frequent and unexplained changes of residence. He may be unable or unwilling to discuss why he lost his last job. He may have a military discharge that he cannot explain and a past that he can not easily talk about. He has systematic and prolonged access to children. Pedophiles, because of the wide age disparity between themselves and their victims, cannot just hang around children. The pedophile has to find a way to legitimize his contact with kids. He usually accomplishes this by obtaining employment in a field where he is forced to deal with children on a daily basis. Jobs like schoolteachers, bus drivers, camp counselors, photographers and sports coaching serve their needs perfectly. They will always volunteer for activities in which they are left alone with children with no parental supervision . Pedophiles are also very adept at locating troubled or withdrawn children. This is a skill they have acquired through years of trial and error. They have come to identify what usually works and what usually doesn’t. The most common technique used by pedophiles to obtain sex from children is the seduction method. This process is very similar to the classic boy/girl courtship. Though the child might be under 10-years-old, the pedophile will lavish gifts upon the target, take him or her to amusement parks, museums, restaurants and other places of interest. This author recalls a case in which a pedophile attempted to seduce a child who had an interest in music. The suspect escorted the boy to expensive Broadway plays like Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon. Afterwards, they ate in fashionable Manhattan cafes and went sightseeing. The child was just 8- years-old. In another recent case, reported by the New York Times (February 2, 2000), a Bronx man lured neighborhood children to his apartment with Pokemon cards and Chinese food. He then abused a number of children after giving them marijuana and screening pornographic videos. The abused children later got together and attempted to set fire to the suspect’s apartment. If the target is a troubled child, the pedophile will comfort and sympathize with him or her. Often, over a period of time, the child will develop feelings for the offender even though he is being actively abused. The dynamics at work in this type of situation are well known to psychologists. This process of sympathizing with the offender has been called Stockholm Syndrome. It was first recognized in 1973 after a notorious bank robbery in Sweden in which the hostages taken by the suspects began to develop feelings of attachment toward their captors. Children who are sexually victimized can feel the same way. This is often the case when the offender happens to be a member of the clergy or another traditional figure of trust. In early 2002, an elementary school bus driver pleaded guilty in Westchester County Court, New York, to abusing 9-year-old children on his bus during the trip home each day. The abuse may have gone on for as long as 15 years with a succession of students. In cases such as this, the events will not be reported because of the emotional attachment between offender and victim. Remember that pedophiles are masters in the manipulation of children. However, as the victim matures into adulthood, these benevolent feelings toward the abuser often dissipate and the painful truth of the abuse sets in.
The most common type of pedophile personality is the immature model. These people have never been able to maintain a successful interpersonal relationship with others. At some point in their lives, they discover that sexual activities with pre-pubescent children can be achieved and they feel a sense of fulfillment they cannot obtain anywhere else. They are classified as loner deviants and usually will not associate with other deviants. Since they lack social contact with others, they spiral downward into deeper recesses of pedophilia and fantasies. the majority of pedophiles never cross that line into active child molestation. They mostly will remain quiet, keep to themselves and pursue their sexual interests at home. Many of these offenders have extensive collections of child pornography or child erotica that feed their fantasy world. These photos and drawings will typically be cutouts from newspapers and magazines that other people would find inoffensive or even innocuous. Pedophiles will frequently videotape children from television shows and commercials. They will also attend sporting events in schools and surreptitiously tape these events. From a practical standpoint, collections serve crucial needs for the pedophile. First, child erotica and pornography are used in his crimes. The pedophile will display this material to a victim to lower his inhibitions and introduce him to the possibilities of sex with an adult. This is a very important step in the seduction process. Secondly, the pedophile will use the material for his own sexual gratification. Often it is used in the arousal phase prior to sexual activity with victims. Still others will use photographs of the abuse to blackmail their victims into further sexual activity. After engaging in sexual acts with an adult, a complex set of emotions engulfs the victim. These emotions include humiliation, attachment to the offender and fear of exposure. The victim becomes extremely fearful that his friends and family will learn of the sexual activity and he will suffer harsh consequences. Pedophiles are familiar with these feelings and will use those emotions against the child. Pornography plays a pivotal role in the child sex offender’s life. But most importantly, it is the tool of his trade used to induct his victims into his sexual fantasies. This is why law enforcement is always on the alert to the onslaught of pornography on the Web. These collections of pornography are often considered the pedophile’s most valued possession It represents years of work and symbolizes, in tangible form, his inner most sexual fantasies and thoughts. The collection will consist of slides, commercial photos, souvenirs, toys, Polaroids and virtually any other type of material that relates to or displays any minute reference to child sex. Child erotica collections will vary in quality and quantity, often depending upon the economic status of the collector. Police have found that the older the pedophile, the more extensive the collection will be. Since true child pornography requires a clandestine effort to obtain, the majority of these collections will be erotic in nature as opposed to pornographic. And often the focus will be upon one or two aspects of sexuality. Preferential child molesters especially, preserve these types of collections and will do anything to safeguard them. Offenders have been known to make formal requests to the police agencies to return these items after their case has been adjudicated. The preferential child molester exhibits distinct patterns of behavior that are common among his kind. They will seduce children by buying gifts and appealing to their emotional weakness. This requires the offender to develop a friendship with the child or utilize an existing relationship with the victim. In more than 90 percent of the rapes of children less than 12 years old, the offender knew the victim . Other offenders will engage in self-exposure or personally harass children. Simply stated, the preferential child molester is a pedophile who has carried his fantasies and desires into reality. A small minority of these types of offenders may be sadistic in nature and inflict pain or torture upon their victims. These individuals, like any other criminal, can be brutal and sadistic.
The pedophile collector falls into three general categories: closet, isolated and the sharer. The closet collector maintains and views his erotica in secret and does not molest children. This type of collector builds his collection in a clandestine manner and keeps its existence a secret. Sometimes, he will maintain this collection for years without the knowledge of a live-in spouse. The isolated collector is actually engaged in molestation and will display the material to a victim. The sharer-collector trades and displays the material with others and may do so for profit. He also will molest children and keeps company with other pedophiles. Since other criminals, like burglars, muggers, car thieves, rarely collect artifacts relating to their criminality, why do pedophiles collect? The answer to that question lies in the psychological characteristics of his condition. He has a twisted sexual compulsion for children whose origins are separate and apart from criminality. His deviance is defined as criminal only because society has deemed it so. Some pedophiles believe that they have done nothing wrong and are simply more enlightened than the general public. They feel they are part of a special progressive movement and one day society will come to accept, what they see as, their sacred ritual of adult/child sex.
Molesters engage in sex with children for a variety of reasons and sometimes these reasons have little to do with sexual desires. This type of offender, called a situational child molester, does not possess a genuine sexual preference for children. Rather, the motivational factors are criminal in nature. In some cases, the offender’s sexual abuse of young people is a natural outgrowth of other forms of abuse in his life. That abuse is a continuation of a process by which he has mistreated his friends, colleagues, spouse and family members. He will have low self-esteem, maintain poor moral standards and view sex with children as an opportunity to prolong the violence that is already an active component of his existence. Other situational offenders see children as a substitute for an adult partner. Although these types of offenders do not harbor a singular sexual desire for children, they may react to a built up sexual impulse or anger, that to them, is irresistible. However, the victim is incidental. It could have been a store clerk, an elderly person or simply a woman walking down a lonely street. Because of the circumstances at hand, such as the Polly Klass incident, the victim happened to be a child. His main criteria for a victim is availability. The situational child molester will usually have few victims, sometimes only one, and never repeat the event again. He could be a social misfit or a psychopathic personality who harbors a seething resentment and hostility toward society in general.
The second classification of sexual offender is defined as a preferential child molester. These offenders have a sexual preference for children and usually maintain these desires throughout their lives. Preferential child molesters can have an astounding number of victims and these crimes can remain undiscovered for many years. In 1995, a child molestation case in Texas caused a national uproar when the suspect was due to be released from prison after serving a six-year sentence for the rape of a 6year-old boy. He told the police that he got away with abusing over 240 children before getting caught for molesting a single child and if released, would do it again. One long-term study of hundreds of sex offenders found that the pedophile child molester committed an average of 281 acts with 150 partners. These types of offenders wreak havoc upon society far out of proportion to their numbers.