I agree with your concerns about children's liberty being restricted in the name of "protecting" them. I also agree with your belief that there are some serious issues which are often ignored by the majority; the hysteria over paedophilia allows significant risks to children to remain undetected or trivialised.
"the effect of 0.00001% of the population having a predilection for children is frankly irrelevant compared to dangers such as traffic accidents, non-sexual abuse, violence and murder"
Actually, the percentage of people who are attracted to children is much higher than that, even if the men who like sexually mature 15 year old girls are not included in the statistics. Despite the widespread occurrence of paedophilia within the general population, most paedophiles refrain from abusing children for several reasons:
- Most paedophiles have a conscience.
- Most paedophiles don't want to be arrested and ostracised by their community (although frankly, many of us feel marginalised even though we haven't offended).
- Most paedophiles have suffered bad childhoods and don't wish to create problems for other children.
I'm not just making assumptions based on the fact that I live responsibly with a paedophilic orientation. I know many other paedophiles who are also responsible people.
I have posted this information previously, but it remains relevant:
From Hall, et al -
"Consistent with previous data (Barbaree & Marshall, 1989; Briere & Runtz, 1989; Fedora et al., 1992; Freund & Watson, 1991), 20 % of the current subjects self-reported pedophilic interest and 26.25 % exhibited penile arousal to pedophilic stimuli that equaled or exceeded arousal to adult stimuli.
Eighty subjects completed the study. [..] Twenty-six subjects [approximately 33%] exhibited sexual arousal to the child slides that equaled or exceeded their arousal to the adult slides.
[..] ....a sizable minority of men in normal populations who have not molested children may exhibit pedophilic fantasies and arousal. In recent studies, 12 to 32% of community college samples of men reported sexual attraction to children (B &R, 1989, H,G & C. 1990) or exhibited penile response to pedophilic stimuli (B&M, 1989, F et al, 1992, F&L, 1989, F & W, 1989). Thus, arousal to pedophilic stimuli does not necessarily correspond with pedophilic behavior (Hall, 1990; Schouten & Simon, 1992), although there are arguments to the contrary (Quinsey & Laws, 1990)."
From the British Journal of Social Work -
"A self-administer questionnaire was given to a sample of 92 female and 91 male public sector child care workers. Results showed a significantly higher percentage of males (15 per cent) than females (4 per cent) expressed a sexual interest in children."
From Is Pedophilia a Mental Disorder? -
"In a sample of nearly 200 university males, 21% reported some sexual attraction to small children, 9% described sexual fantasies involving children, 5% admitted to having masturbated to sexual fantasies of children, and 7% indicated they might have sex with a child if not caught (Briere & Runtz, 1989). Briere and Runtz remarked that "given the probable social undesirability of such admissions, we may hypothesize that the actual rates were even higher" (p. 71). In another sample with 100 male and 180 female undergraduate students, 22% of males and 3% of females reported sexual attraction to a child (Smiljanich & Briere, 1996).
Laboratory researchers have validated physiologically the self-report studies of nonclinical, nonpedophile identified volunteers. In a sample of 80 "normal" volunteers, over 25% self-reported some pedophilic interest or in the plethysmographic phase exhibited penile arousal to a child that equaled or exceeded arousal to an adult (Hall, Hirschman, & Oliver, 1995). In another study, "normal" men's erections to pictures of pubescent and younger girls averaged 70 and 50%, respectively, of their responses to adult females (Quinsey, Steinman, Bergersen, & Holmes, 1975). In a control group of 66 males recruited from hospital staff and the community, 17% showed a penile response that was pedophilic (Fedora et al., 1992). Freund and Watson (1991), studying community male volunteers in a plethysmography classification study, found that19%were misclassified as having an erotic preference for minors. Freund and Costell (1970) studied 48 young Czech soldiers who were shown slides of children between 4 and 10, both male and female, as well as adolescents and adults, male and female. Penile responsivity to female children, ages 4-10, was intermediate to adolescent and adult females and males in one scoring system. In the other scoring system, all 48 soldiers showed penile response to adult females, as did 40 of 48 to adolescent females, and notably, 28 of 48 showed penile response to the female children age 4-10."
Here is some information collected by a friend (some of which is sourced from studies also quoted above):
"Although one-in-seven men expressed a sexual interest in children, it is likely that a significantly smaller number of men actually sexually abuse children. Empirical evidence indicates that inhibitors are effective in preventing a sexual interest in children becoming actual perpetration. [...] Research suggests the presence of socio-cultural inhibitors in the male population. If someone is fully inhibited from sexually abusing children, no amount of emotional congruence, sexual arousal, or blockage will lead them to abuse children."
~ Mike Freel, in Child Sexual Abuse and the Male Monopoly (British Journal of Social Work)
"The current results suggest that sexual arousal to pedophilic stimuli occurs among a sizable minority of normal men who report no pedophilic behavior and is not necessarily associated with pedophilic behavior."
~ Gordon Hall, et al., in Sexual Arousal and Arousability to Pedophilic Stimuli in a Community Sample of Normal Men (Behavior Therapy)
"Terms such as 'child sexual abuse', 'incest', 'child molestation' and 'pederasty' are not equivalent to pedophilia. Terms that denote sex with minors are criminal actions; pedophilia is the sexual attraction to children. Not all who sexually abuse minors are pedophilic. For example, some who sexually abuse minors may opportunistically select minors simply because they are available. Sex with a minor is not, ipso facto a determination of pedophilia. Also, not all individuals who fulfill the diagnostic criteria for pedophilia actually abuse children."
~ Peter Fagan, et al., in Pedophilia (Journal of the American Medical Association)
"Although the terms are often used interchangeably, a distinction must be made between "sex offender against a minor" and "pedophile." The former refers to a criminal sexual behavior and the latter to an anomalous sexual preference. Many pedophiles never act on their impulses. The DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) defines pedophilia in terms of recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children, and requires that the fantasies, urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. It is therefore possible for an individual who meets these criteria to have never engaged in illegal sexual behaviors. At the same time, not all sex offenders against a minor are pedophiles. All mental health professionals acting in an expert witness capacity should know this distinction."
~ Ralph Underwager and Hollida Wakefield, in Coping With Psychiatric and Psychological Testimony (Institute for Psychological Therapies)