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INDEPENDENT: ‘Not All Paedophiles Are Bad’ Claims Psychologist

NEWCASTLE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 1: Sir Jimmy Saville prepares for The Bupa Great North Run on October 1, 2006 in Newcastle, England.
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

An author who made a study of the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) has written a piece for The Independent newspaper in which he calls for “a sense of proportion” and states his belief that some paedophiles have turned sexual feelings to children to “social good.” Child welfare campaigners have reacted angrily, saying the idea is “barking mad” and “totally misguided”.

Dr. Glenn Wilson is a consultant psychologist with a prominent public presence. Regarded as an expert in his field he is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society who appears regularly on TV and radio news and documentary programmes. However, his most recent contribution to public discourse, an article suggesting paedophiles can find fulfilling careers in teaching and social work, has prompted much criticism.

Dr Wilson does not let all paedophiles off the hook. His article opens:

“The public is reviled by the predatory antics of Jimmy Savile [pictured above] that have recently come to light, no doubt rightly. Clearly, he had sexually exploited young fans over many years, while authorities turned a blind eye.”

The Independent did see fit to amend the article in question “to remove a reference to victims wanting to “cash in” on episodes of sexual abuse in the past”, but it is nevertheless true to say Dr. Wilson appears to believe some paedophiles are bad people. He continued:

“But we need to keep a sense of proportion here. There is a danger of becoming hysterical about paedophilia and seeing it everywhere, like witches at Salem, or “Commies” in Hollywood during McCarthyism. Paedophiles do exist, but there are very few of them and not all are child molesters. It is possible to be attracted to children as a sexual orientation without acting upon those desires.”

Leaving aside the fact that while Salem was a witch-free zone Hollywood undoubtedly had a problem with Communists, his comments were still, just about, defensible. But then Dr. Wilson came to the controversial moment:

“In my studies of the Paedophile Information Exchange in the 1980s, many members admitted sexual feelings for children which they had been able to contain or turn to social good. Some gravitated toward occupations such as schoolteacher or social worker, where they could enjoy the company of children without plotting abuse. This fitted with personality profiles indicating that they were gentle, rational and not disposed to harm anybody.”

Responding to an idea which appears equivalent to suggesting alcoholics could run bars and obese sufferers of overeating disorders may like to apply to their local McDonald’s for a job, the child welfare campaigner Dame Esther Rantzen told The Daily Telegraph: “This is like giving an arsonist a box of matches.” She added:

“Paedophiles who recognise how dangerous they are will avoid temptation and not put themselves in a situation where children are at risk.

“This is irresponsible in the extreme and doesn’t do much for the reputation of psychologists.

“We know that paedophiles are drawn to occupations which allow them access to children but to say it is a ‘good’ thing is barking mad.”

A spokesman for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was equally condemnatory, labelling the comments “totally misguided”. He continued:

“The idea that people with sexual feelings towards children can somehow harness this for social good is naïve and dangerous.

“We know that many sex offenders will seek roles within certain caring professions precisely because they want to have access to children – and groom individuals for abuse.

“That is why vetting, barring and robust child protection is so important. Interviews with convicted paedophiles show they are highly manipulative and devious in the way they cover their tracks.

“Some paedophiles may not have acted on their urges or yet committed a crime but it is important to seriously question the claims of people with these desires, as so much abuse goes unreported.”

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