Thu | Aug 16, 2018

Letter of the Day | Consider the true cause

Published:Friday | January 13, 2017 | 12:00 AM


I was just into my mid-teens one Christmas when a clergyman bundled a number of us into his car to take us carolling. Later, he dropped each of us home until just two of us - a girl and I - were left. He stopped near the post office and sent me to check his letter box. On my way, I realised that I didn't remember the box number and returned to get it. What I saw taking place in the car blew my mind. I had never seen anything like that before, but a sixth sense told me that I should tip-toe away. The next time I saw something like that was years later when as a college freshman, older, more street-wise classmates smuggled me into an 'adults only' movie at Majestic Theatre on Spanish Town Road. The clergyman and the girl have long since passed away, but I frequently hear stories from credible sources that these activities abound.

I am not hearing discussions attempting to identify the real causes and solutions that will protect more of the vulnerable among us.

Many children are victimised by paedophiles. Very few are studying paedophilia from a biological perspective. This involves searching for brain-based and other physical differences that distinguish paedophiles from non-paedophiles.The leader in this field is James Cantor, associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Toronto.




Using brain-scanning technology, he discovered significant differences in the white matter - a substance that connects one brain region to another - of paedophile versus non-paedophile. In the paedophile group, Cantor found significantly less white matter in two different regions, suggesting a connection deficit. He says, "The brain has a network that's responsible for detecting what in the environment is potentially a sexual object, and when there's not enough white matter, that network doesn't function like it's supposed to." He theorises that due to abnormal functioning of these networks,the instinct that children provoke in paedophiles is erotic rather than the typical urge to nurture and protect.

He theorises that paedophilia is caused by a biological susceptibility that starts before birth. Because of legal and social implications, paedophiles don't seek any help that may be available. But nobody chooses to be a paedophile. And although the country is now too angry to think of anything but punishment, this may still be a good time to suggest that we start to see paedophilia as a medical condition and not a moral failing.

Glenn Tucker