Can Pedophiles be Rehabilitated?

Becky Harding
Apr 29, 2016 · 8 min read

As a general rule, “pedophile” and “child molester” are considered synonymous. And we tend to lump all pedophiles and child molesters into the same category: evil monsters, unfeeling, lurking in bushes, psychopathic, preying on innocent children and delighting in their conquests.

Pedophiles are villainized. And rightfully so. Their offenses are among the most terrible. However, not all pedophiles are created equal. Only a small percentage of them actually fit what we see in CSI: Special Victim’s Unit episodes.

Many or most pedophiles are not child molesters. They simply feel sexual attraction for prepubescent children, they do not wish to have the inclinations they do, and they will go to great lengths to eradicate their urges and avoid temptation.

The percentage who do ultimately act on their inclinations often loathe themselves for doing so. And the great many (and likely the MAJORITY) of pedophiles who don’t ever act out their urges on children, find themselves isolated in a world that would despise and shun them regardless of their virtuous lives.

I Was Born With It…

Our society seems hell-bent on justifying unhealthy disorders like alcoholism, narcissism, and obesity, saying “It’s a disease,” “They were born with it” or “They have an overactive hypothalamus,” and “we need to be sympathetic.” Likewise, when it comes to deviating (from the “norm”) sexual or gender orientations such as homosexuality and transgenderism, supporters and experts alike go stark raving mad in defense of the issue.

But when it comes to pedophilia, a disorder that many experts say could also be an innate condition, the public outcry is:

“Ain’t no way in hell these guys get sympathy. String ’em up by the balls! Eradicate those bastards! Stick ’em on the front line, come next war. Kill the Beast!”

And this would be an appropriate human response to someone who does bad things to children. Unfortunately, the resulting conundrum is that most pedophiles (people who are sexually attracted to children) do not seek help or support for their condition because of the shame and the risk associated with admitting their problem.

Wait, did you just say there is SUPPORT out there for pedophiles???

Virtuous Pedophiles

An organization called the “virtuous pedophiles” saw the need for support for individuals who have a persistent sexual proclivity for children or youth, but who choose to remain celibate and conduct otherwise normal, healthy lives.

Many pedophiles are loving fathers, teachers, coaches, neighbors, and friends who have never once done anything inappropriate with a child, and never plan to.

I’m a 20-year-old man who has been trying to deal with an attraction to young girls since I was 13. Women just don’t interest me. I wish with all my soul that I could have a brain that’s wired normally. I know that I can never act on what I feel, but I need to speak to a therapist because I don’t think I can get through this on my own. But if I talk to a therapist he could report me, because I have to talk about my attraction to young girls. I don’t know whether he would or not and don’t even know how to go about getting more information. Even the friendships I have are in danger of falling apart because I can’t just keep saying ‘I’m fine’ and I can’t talk to anyone about my problem. I think about suicide a lot. “

Virtuous Pedophiles ( is trying to convey that pedophiles are not what the world thinks they are. The website serves as both a support group for those who wish to remain celibate, and as an awareness platform for the general public.

“The goals of our organization are to reduce the stigma attached to pedophilia by letting people know that a substantial number of pedophiles do not molest children, and to provide peer support and information about available resources to help pedophiles lead happy, productive lives. Our highest priority is to help pedophiles never abuse children.”

Most people don’t know about this resource and other free programs available to them. Funny thing is, pedophiles are an estimated 1% of the male population. So essentially, one out of every 100 men could be sexually attracted to the physique of a child. In other words, over 1 million men in the United States could be simultaneously wishing they were not alone, and they had somewhere to turn to.

If they all knew about this website and other programs they could turn to for help, many of them would.

Other Programs

The prevention network DON’T OFFEND ( provides a more complete and holistic approach to treating pedophilia and sexual addiction, and they offer anonymous enrollment. They operate very much like a rehab program, including psychotherapy, sexology, pharmaceutical support, medical support, group therapy sessions, and involvement of loving family members and friends.

DON’T OFFEND explains “pharmaceutical support” as:

Two groups of medications are used:

So-called receptor blockers prevent the full effects of naturally occurring male sex hormones. These medications have been used for many years and their impacts are well studied.

Somewhat newer is the group of so-called GnRH-Analogs. The name is derived from the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating the production and release of the male sex hormones. Administering these medications leads to a decrease in the synthesis of male sex hormones. For this reason they are also used in the follow-up treatment of prostate cancer, as the production of new cancer cells is promoted by androgens.

Anti-Androgens (

Is There a Cure?

Dr Paul Fedoroff, director of the Sexual Behaviours Clinic at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, actually believes he can “cure” pedophiles through a series of manipulated hormone events, using receptor blockers, or “anti-androgens” spoken of earlier.

In an interview with BBC News in Nov. 2015, Dr. Federoff explained that what they do is “take sex off the table” and help the individuals develop healthy relationships without that. He then explains,

“Then we stop the anti-androgens and their sex drive comes back. And…their preference changes to adult.”

The Sexual Behaviors Clinic accepts a wide range of patients, from individuals who have never offended and are worried they might, to repeat offenders who are already behind bars. In every case, they are voluntarily asking for the help. It is not forced upon them. They are usually desperate. They don’t want to hurt children. They want to have normal, healthy, adult relationships. Dr. Federoff helps them do this.

CTB Morning Live: Interview with Dr. Federoff. “Cure” for pedophiles.

“Most people, by the time they get to me, are desperate for help and are extremely cooperative in the therapies that we offer them.”

-Dr. Federoff, director of the Sexual Behaviours Clinic at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre

Should Convicted and Registered Sex Offenders be Required to Receive Anti-Hormone Therapy?

If Dr. Federoff’s drug and psychotherapy can help sex offenders and pedophiles return to a normal sexual lifestyle, then shouldn’t all pedophiles and sex offenders be required to receive the anti-hormone therapy upon release into the public from prison?

Unfortunately it’s not that simple. The anti-hormone therapy requires a lot of patient-participation for it to be successful. But if the anti-hormone drugs could prevent an offender from reoffending again, then perhaps it should be looked into. The problem is, unless it was a permanent procedure, it may be a difficulty. Someone has to prescribe and administer the drug regularly, the offender has to continually take the medication, and then there is the issue of punishment if they don’t take the drug: tracking them down, holding a trial, ruling on the issue, sentencing or sanctioning the offender for breaking release orders, following up to make sure they have followed them this time, and ultimately jail time if the orders are not followed.

This may be worth the trouble, but then, it may not be. Other, more permanent forms of chemical or physical castration may be necessary to keep offenders from reoffending.

Is It a Genetic Disorder?

Dr. James Cantor — Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, Head of the Law and Mental Health Research Section of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; editor-in-chief of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, and a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Sexual Aggression, The Journal of Sex Research, and Archives of Sexual Behavior — believes Pedophilia is innate, based on research he has done on the differences between heterosexual, normal brains, and brains of pedophiles.

Dr. James Cantor

“My heart goes out to people to whom nature has given something as powerful and as distracting as a sex drive and no healthy way to express it. Pedophiles are not the only folks in this position, but they are by far the most demonized, regardless of whether they have ever actually caused anyone any kind of harm.”

-Dr. James Cantor

Other experts believe pedophilia is more likely the result of trauma or abuse. Still others believe a significant portion of sexual abusers develop a taste for it via internet porn: they are tempted by newer, more aggressive material when the older stuff doesn’t “do the trick” anymore, and they gradually develop a sexual deviance and hunger they did not expect to develop, and now they are permanently ensnared in it like a drug.

Regardless of how an individual becomes a pedophile, the fact remains that given the option, the MAJORITY of pedophiles would prefer not to be pedophiles. They would give anything to just be normal like the rest of us. And maybe they can be.

4 Ways to Help a Pedophile Not Offend

  1. Support: Pedophiles and sex offenders need to know they have support and a way out.
  2. Anonymity: Programs need to be anonymous, and be void of any legal repercussion (except in instances of confessed offense or immediate danger to a child).
  3. Research: More research needs to be performed in order to help us: 1) determining likely causes of the disorder, 2) coming up with new ways to treat, prevent, and even cure it, and 3) making information more accessible to the public so we can change the stigma from hate to help
  4. Stop the Stigma: Society will need to gradually shift their hatred and fear of pedophiles into something resembling the desire to help. If not for the pedophile, then for the sake of the child.

Pedophiles. We can hate them and fear them, we can send them to prison and feel better about one less pedophile on the streets of our town. But it doesn’t solve the problem.

Becky Harding

Written by

I am a paralegal. I also love “mini cooking” shows. And Canadians.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade