Child Abuse and Pedophilia are not new terms in American society. The harassment of a child or the rape of a child occurs way too frequently and taint the American newspapers almost every day. Child abuse is heinous and comes in several different forms and ways. Emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse are only to name a few of the forms. The abuse then leads to serious problems for the minor later on in their life. The minor is more vulnerable to mental disorders like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and other Anxiety Disorders.
There are several legal implications to such issues, but it is still debated whether legal ramifications or punitive measures are the real answers to such social problems.
Pedophilia and Child Sexual Abuse: A Detailed Insight
Pedophilia has been one of the most stigmatized mental disorders. The term was coined and recognized back in the 19th century and had a significant amount of research, studies, and literature co-related to it.
Sexual abuse of minor or juvenile sex crimes occurs in various places and settings. These activities might take place even in the comfort of their home. They may cause psychological and physical damage to the child.
According to certain psychiatrists and mental health professionals, juvenile sex crimes could have their roots in pedophilia. Although this mental disorder does not necessarily perpetrate a crime, some individuals might express this disorder through twisted acts on minors and children. That is how these two things get interlinked.
Pedophilia is an ill-famed psychiatric disorder. This disorder is characterized by an adult or an older adolescent experiencing sexual attraction and affiliation to prepubescent children. The individual must be above 16 or at least 5 years older than the victim to be diagnosed with this disorder. The Internal Classification of Diseases defines pedophilia as a “sustained, focused, and intense pattern of sexual arousal—manifested by persistent sexual thoughts, fantasies, urges, or behaviors—involving pre-pubertal children.”
Child Sexual Abuse
Engaging in any sexual interaction with an underaged minor can be termed ‘Child Sexual Abuse. Be it the rape of a child or the groping or touching of their intimate parts, all of these actions fall under the sexual abuse of a minor. Including children to make child pornography is sexual abuse of the minor in an exploitive way.
The American Psychological Association states that “Children cannot consent to sexual activity with adults.” It gravely believes that “An adult who engages in sexual activity with a child is performing a criminal and immoral act which can never be considered normal or socially acceptable behavior.”
Society tends to confuse and blur the lines between pedophilia and sexual abuse of a minor, which is not factually correct. A sexual offender is only a pedophile if he has been prefixed to prepubescent children and has no other attraction. Both of these can overlap if a pedophile pursues his sexual desires with the minor.
The Legal Implications of Child Sexual Abuse:
Since sexual abuse is a highly explicit form of notoriety where the perpetrator channels his innermost problematic desires on an unsuspecting and innocent child, laws have been created to bring the wronged children to justice.
- Child Sexual Abuse has been termed as a type of child maltreatment in the U.S.
- 18 U.S.C. section 2243 is the law established for the sexual abuse of a minor or ward. Along with this, several other sections are laid down for the criminalization of these actions.
- Penalties for these sexual actions vary with each offense and according to the gravity of the abuse.
However, this is a bone of contention. Some counselors and psychiatrists debate stringent punitive measures saying that nothing can undo the wrong that has been done to the children or the misfortune dealt by them. Punishing the guilty also does not achieve the same. However, the thing that should be dealt with is to dive into their innermost reaches of the brain and look for the deformity cause. It could be depression, some unforgiven trauma, guilt, some hidden bits of their past selves that cause them to tread on such slippery slopes.
The social attitude towards pedophilia is exceptionally negative. Studies have also reported high levels of anger and social rejection of this mental disorder. These two terms might be blurred by society, but they have different social values, connotations, and importance. One is a criminal offense, and the other is a disorder that needs therapy and medication.
With proper support, care, awareness, and medical counsel, these negative issues can be dealt with and eradicated. However, the first step should be the destigmatization and changing the harsh punitive measures associated with such psychiatric conditions. It will help change society’s outlook for the better.