Pedophilia and Pedosexuality

[ Start / Up  ]

Lecture, july 2019, Amsterdam, by Frans E.J. Gieles

Organized by for a group of students criminology from the V.S.


Good afternoon and welcome in the Netherlands! I am Frans Gieles, just 78 years of age, father, grandfather, PhD in social, clinical and forensic orthopedagogy, which is: helping children who have problems, and their parents, teachers, etcetera. I have worked in children’s homes and at an university. Regarding pedophilia, I am a volunteer by leading self-help encounter groups and individuals since 38 years.

In Part 1:

  • First, I will give a very short introduction: what are we talking about?
  • Second, I will present some personal stories.
  • Third, I will give an impression of the work of the encounter groups I have led, and still lead.

In Part 2:

I will introduce you to some theoretical concepts and ideas.

Useful links are given in a separate page:
< >

Part 1: Intro & Stories

So: First: what are we talking about?

The subject of your journey is: Deviance, this afternoon: pedophilia and pedosexuality.

The first idea I offer you is: make a difference between pedophilia: feelings, desires, and pedosexuality: acts. Note that I am talking about phenomena, not about persons or identities. If a person has pedophilic feelings, this does not have to be his identity; his identity will be much broader.

Both concepts are connected as two overlapping circles:

AB = Pedophilia
BC = Pedosexuality
A = Pedophilia without pedosexuality
B = Pedophilia with pedosexuality
C = Pedosexuality without pedophilia

You must know that in cases of pedosexuality, only a 20% of those acts is done by someone with pedophilia, and 80% by persons without pedophilic feelings. If yes, that only a small part of people with pedophilic feelings act or has acted in a sexual way, usually only during a part of their life, maybe 5 years, or, described in several books, only 5 minutes.

You must know that the great majority of people with pedophilia does not want to act with it in a sexual way, or in other cases: ‘that was once, but it will happen never again’. In my view, it is not correct to say to the latter: “You are a pedosexual all your life.”

Well, what are we talking about?

Deviance, paraphilia, distortion, perversion, disposition, orientation? According to the DSM, the great handbook of psychiatric disorders, pedophilia is a distortion if and only if the person suffers from it, or if his fellow-humans suffer from his acts.

The best way, and the modern way of viewing pedophilia as an orientation or preference. You might say: a deviant orientation, but a deviant orientation is not the same as a distortion or a perversion. Acting in a pedosexual way can be seen as a perversion, if and only if it harms a fellow human being.

A disposition? Usually, it is felt as a disposition: ‘A am born this way’, but this can never be proven, and never has been proven. The psychodynamic theory of growing up gives us a more logical explanation.

There is still one fact that is important, before I tell you three stories. The mean age on which a person discovers his feelings of attraction to younger people is 15 years of age. The mean age to speak about these feelings is … 22 years of age. The first people who hear this are … his mother and a close fiend. Between 15 and 22 years, there is on average seven years of lonesome worrying. Just about your age …

Well, this was a short theoretical introduction. More about it in part two of our meeting.

Now, secondly, I want to present you three stories or narratives, written as letters, written by me, but based on the stories of several real persons. We might name it: vignettes.

Three Letters or Vignettes

Letter 1: “A deep hole in my life” Man, 67 years, ‘Aloys’

After my retirement, after a busy job and (taking care of my) family, I have fallen into a deep hole. Suddenly, I was confronted with myself. Attraction to children is something I have felt since early in my twenties, but I have tucked (those thoughts) away. Now, they came back in full. It became an obsession.

To prevent real abuse of children, I started to view and download child pornography. Did this help? No. It did grant short relaxation, but directly thereafter the fear of being caught continued on.

This was discovered by my wife. She was not amused with it. The great secret with which I have lived all those years before was now discovered. I could no longer deny it. Our marriage might even fall apart. I had to realize how poor our marriage actually has been.

All those years, I have laid the care for our children into the hands of my wife. I did not dare bathe my children or put them to sleep. Now I must acknowledge that my contact with them has been poor—and it still is poor. Now they are busy teenagers. Now it is too late.

The hole I have fallen into is even deeper because early in my twenties I decided not to work with children; I chose a business job. I never have done any volunteer work with children. I have avoided any contact with a child.

Now I am longer for something that is now no longer possible. It is too late. I am looking back on an enormous gap in my life that cannot be restored. I feel the start of a deep depression. I am going to ask for medication for that.

Letter 2: Resentment about society Man, age 50+, ‘Ben’

Since age 12, there have been young friends I was attracted to. At the age of 15, I was sure about (being attracted to younger people). Until I was 20, I tried to be straight or gay, but my feelings did not change. For me, it is surely that I feel love for young boys. This feeling developed during my adolescence.

For me, pedophilia is a disposition I am born with. I do not feel any attraction to women or men. My love and my sexual desires focus on boys between 8 and 12 years of age.

I am a loving and careful human. My love for children is not bad. It is a beautiful characteristic. I can be very happy with friendships without a sexual component. I can mean a lot for children.

Already then, in my twenties, I knew that living with this disposition would be difficult and that any kind of sexuality would lead to big problems. It was a problem for me to listen to the stories of my peers who were discovering sexuality. For me, sex would be impossible for my whole life.

I can be very happy, going about with boys from 8 to 12 years of age. Intimacy? Now and then, a hug. I am able to put my sexual desires in the background. I don’t want to risk a friendship for erotica or sex.

An important difference is this: pedophilia = loving children. Pedosexuality = using children as a lust object. I see children as young fellow human beings I love, not as lust objects.

Of course, I do have sexual feelings, just as anyone else. I keep it to myself for a variety of reasons. I do not want to go to prison, thus I avoid sex with minors. More importantly, it is the friendship that makes me happy, and I will not risk that. I cannot be sure that a boy will enjoy sex. He also might, years later, have negative feelings about it. Moreover, keeping such a secret might be heavy for the child. Thus, I avoid sex and enjoy the friendship.
However, regrettably, nowadays our society is no longer able to have an objective view of pedophilia. Pedophiles are demonized worse than murderers. Nobody dares to say a positive word about pedophilia. Nowadays, no person with pedophilia has a chance of a happy life.

How do I cope with this?

Absolute secrecy. I pretend as if I don’t want to talk about intimacy. Sometimes, I flirt with a woman I see in order to raise the impression that I am attracted toward the woman, preventing other ideas. It is necessary to have a double-life. This makes me tired and somber.

Until about ten years ago, I had done volunteer work with youth. I also had my neighbor children as visitors. I enjoyed their company, and I loved to care for them. If the children were happy and content, I was happy. Regrettably, society has changed. A ‘man alone’ who gives his attention to children is immediately suspect. Thus, now there are no children within my life. Nothing in my home may betray my disposition. Nowadays, I cannot live in the way I want. This causes my loneliness and my depression; it makes me world-weary.

Now, I live with a sickness. I could not cope with it. I had burn out. On the job, the worst times were the breaks, especially on Monday: “How was your weekend with your wife? Did you fuck her?” This was the main subject of the conversation. There I was a lonely man.

I am sure that the whole company spoke about me, slandering behind my back that I am a pedophile. I observe this, them suddenly looking the other way. Also, the young people. I am sure that they talk about me on their cell phones. I observed their looks, and I could no longer cope with it.

I have earlier experienced such slandering—that hearsay. Moreover, the threats. Two times I have felt forced to change homes. Now I am living in a complex with small apartments where no families live. I never see any child. I do not want this. I have no choice.

I have heard, “If you approach my child, I will have you beaten.” Once upon a time, I stopped a child that was nearly hurt crossing a busy street. The mother thanked me, but the father said, “Keep your claws off my child!”

I have heard a story about a man, living alone, who was severely attacked by his neighbors because he had played football with a neighbor boy. The Youth Care Institution had already warned the family about him. Such a story travels through the whole neighborhood.

Here you see the spirit of the time. I am completely depressed by it. It was once possible to go about with children, to make photos and keep them, and to have friendships. I have had them. And to have a child on your lap. Now, you may even not look at a child and not take any photos. People look at you furiously, or worse. Police hunt for images that once have been legal; they hunt the viewers, the pedophiles. This is all the result of the media.

I personally view my feelings as natural and self-evident. It is real love, but my fellow humans abhor this. Since society is so hostile that I do not dare to have any child around me, my life is broken. Nothing can make me happy without children around me.

Once, it was possible to speak about this topic. I have had friends, male and female, who knew my orientation. Over the years, they have become negative. I have lost those friendships. Now, I keep it completely secret from everyone around me, especially at my job. Only some people with the same feelings know my disposition. My parents have known it, but they are gone. My mother has supported me, but my father never spoke to me about this.

Pedophiles are demonized now; everyone is afraid. Anyone who speaks a positive word is seen as a heretic, especially on social media. Everyone is afraid to be confronted by society.

Now I am living at home. My life is empty and meaningless. I do not dare to look at any nice pictures. I have started gaming.

Psychologists who might support you are very rare, as are groups. The self-help group JON is the one and only place where I feel acknowledgement and recognition. Through this group, I have found a psychologist. He says that I have pedophilia and depression, as well as autism. That was new for me. Maybe my sorrows are not only caused by my pedophilia. We’ll see.

Letter 3: Care and happiness - Man, just now 78, that's me, Frans

Feelings of attraction to children. I have had them before I was ten years old. I have had them from then until now. With my friends in secondary school, it was normal to speak about this. The one is attracted by this, another by that, a third friend would become a priest, so he was attracted to no one.

During my teenage years, I started with volunteer work with children. I chose my profession: youth care. So I studied orthopedagogy, social clinical and forensic, until I became a PhD. I was married, later divorced. I have a child and a grandchild, and I have cared for several foster children. I also had an ‘open house’ for the children in my neighborhood. Until now, I go about with children: visible for everyone, not erotically or sexually. Normal.

In the past, on three separate occasions I asked for and received help from a therapist: via a student psychologist, by the NVSH, Dutch Association for Sexual Reform, and via a family doctor after I had made a mistake many years ago. I have benefited much from those therapies. I became a member of one of the self-help groups of the NVSH, in which I quickly became the coordinator and coach. Now I am also a therapist.

My feelings have led me into contact with children, especially to care for them, care for the upbringing, which implies also to set limits, just not only friendship — and I cared for care givers, parents and others. All this has given and still gives me a personal and specific meaning to my life, including joy and energy—no depression; no burning out.

My whole environment, family, neighborhood, church know my orientation. Just this openness prevents slander and gossip—it results in respect. Everyone can see how I go about with children: normally, with attention and care, not erotically.

Discovering these feelings of attraction were not difficult when I was a teenager, but nowadays it can be a problem for young people that requires help. In those cases: which kind of help? Is say: just not the offender treatment, because there is no offender, and the young people do not want to become an offender anyway. . To help these young people, and adults who are not offenders, in my view, a complete different methodology is needed, based on a completely different view on the human being, thus a different philosophy.

In the scientific literature, for a long time only convicted sexual offenders have been studied. The conclusions may not be generalized to all pedophiles, only those who are convicted. Happily, more recent research has studied non-offenders, and this gives a different image. The great majority of people with pedophilic feelings are not offenders and do not want to be offenders, such as those in the new group “Virtuous Pedophiles,” which currently has more than 2000 members, who explicitly want to avoid sexual acts with minors.

Why do they avoid sexual acts with minor?

(1)The fact that there is a chance of harm,
(2) that keeping such a secret may be too heavy for a child, and
(3) there is a chance that initially positive feelings later, years thereafter, maybe be changed into a negative feeling – as we have seen in the documentary Leaving Neverland about Michael Jackson and his former young friends.

Once upon a time, I was sometimes threatened, but today I very seldom, maybe once every few years, hear someone calling “Pedo!” in my neighborhood. But now I hear, “Hi Hodja!” This is Turkish for ‘the wise old man of the village.’ I have learned Turkish and have studied Quran and Islam. Now I hear that the call is, “Do you have a problem? Go to Frans!” And they do come, especially young people, not specifically with pedophile feelings, but with their own problems around the age of thirty. I am quite busy with it.

Part 2: Science

Dear students, you are studying a science: criminology – a science, hence, we have to talk about science. I have selected some topics to only shortly speak about, trying to introduce you to the heart of the matter.

1. Research & methodology, science and philosophy

I want to start, and to conclude, with a topic concerning all science and methodology. Science tries to be objective, but science is not neutral. Human science has a base in a view on the human being, a philosophical base. I want to ask you to be aware of this base if you read research reports and methodologies.
Within the human sciences as criminology, psychology, pedagogy and sexology, there are two main basic philosophical views.

(1) View 1: the acting human Since ages, the psychodynamic view is basic: the view of the human as an acting being, led by motives, reasons and inner dynamic forces. The human is able to choose his acts and to be responsible for them. The whole juridical practice is based on this view. Research will be: studying these motives; methodology will aim at helping people to act reasonably and responsible. The best way is: qualitative research.

(2) View 2: human behavior More recently, the behavioristic view is chosen, with the core concept behavior¸ which is supposed to be caused by factors.
Research will be: describing, measure and counting behavior and discovering the factors that cause the behavior. Methodology will aim to change behavior from deviant into normal. The best way is: quantitative research.

There is a great difference between both [‘boot’] visions, and thus research and methodology based on it. To stay at my own profession, orthopedagogy, which is: helping children and their caregivers with problems:

  • In vision (2), the behavioral approach, one sees the problematic child as a bundle of deviant behavior, caused by factors, and to be changed into normal behavior. Using pressure is unavoidably.
  • In vision (1), the acting approach, one tries to see the message expressed by that behavior: “feelings, needs, wishes, interests, rights and limits” as I wrote in my dissertation; feelings: frustration, anger, fear or whatever - and one communicates with the child about those messages and motives. One tries to understand the child, to care for the child, and to help the child to cope with them and to reach his own goals. One avoids using pressure.

In the clinical practice, I observe a remarkable difference: many therapists see their clients as humans with behavior, but themselves as acting humans.
My dissertation is a plea for vision (1), to view the child as an acting human being, a methodology to resolve conflicts not by power but by contact – and I prove that this works better than vision (2), the behavioral approach. I want to ask you to be aware of the fundamentals if you read research reports and methodologies.

2. Harm: the research of Rind and his team

This is a quite different topic, but my intention is that you at least should know the main results of this research.
The Rind team did not start new research, they have achieved a meta-analysis. [‘mèta anèlasis’] This is: an analysis of analyses, thus research about research. The meta-analyzed 59 research reports about sexual experiences during childhood and their later adjustment or well-being, concerning 35.703 subjects.

First, You should know that

  • the boys reported about their sexual experience during childhood: 1/3 a positive feeling afterwards, 1/3 neutral, and 1/3 negative, and that
  • the girls reported about 1/6 positive, 1/6 neutral and 2/3 negative feeling afterwards.
 Boys  positive  positive  neutral  neutral  negative  negative
 Girls  positive  neutral  negative  negative  negative  negative

What I miss is: ambívalent feelings afterwards: on the one hand positive, on the other hand, or later, negative. But, because of none of the analyzed reports have even mentioned this, thus, the meta-analysis also could not mention it.

About the possibility of harm, they report, not in the meta-analysis, but in a later lecture, citing a report from 1985, that

  • “Enduring harm”: males 4%, females 13%.
  • "Harmful at the time, but no lasting effects”. For males this is 33%, for females 51%.
  • "No effect" counts for males 57% and for females 34%.
  • "Improved quality of life" is also mentioned: male 6%, female 2%.
 Questions  Male (n=79)  Female (n=119)
 Enduring harm  4%  13%
 Harm then, but not enduring  33%  51%
 No harm  57%  34%
 Better quality of life  6%  2%

Possible harm: 4% and 13%; not 100%. In my opinion and ethics, even 1% would be too much. Thus: avoid sexual contacts with children.

The second result I want to mention is the effect size they have found.
This is a number that, after statistical computations, tells us how much effect phenomenon A (here: sexual experience during childhood) has on phenomenon B (here: lasting harm, more precisely ‘problems with psychological; adjustment during adulthood’). Thus, not the frequency of phenomenon B (‘1% of the cases’), but the effect that A has on B (‘1% of the possible factors’).

This effect size differs between the samples, but all figures are low: between 0.16% and 2.25%. Remember the mean effect size: 1 %. This means that the effect of sexual experiences during childhood on the later adjustment, well-being or not-well-being is in fact low. Later adjustment, or well-being or not well-being is caused by a lot of factors, of which the sexual experience is only one of those factors.

Remember also the next number:
It appeared that the factor (problematic) family environment is a nine times bigger than the factor early sexual experiences. Thus, the factor (problematic) family environment has nine times more influence than the sexual experience itself. The latter is 1%, the former, family environment, is 9%. Thus, harm is possible, but not always a fact, and not always or totally caused by the sexual experience itself.

Effect sizes

 Sexual experience in childhood   →  1 %   →  Problems, harm
 Family environment   →  9 %   →  Problems, harm
 Others   →  ...   →  Problems, harm

After the Rind research, with possibly many ‘dark numbers’, that is: harm that not is mentioned by the respondents, there is more research done about that harm, after which the prevalence of harm, or better: the possibility of harm, is supposed to be higher, but surely not a 100%.
There is also the possibility that a new researcher will get more negative feelings afterwards will hear from his respondents, because nowadays each young person is told that such an experience only can be negative, and that the whole society, the ‘spirit of our time’, says the same.

3. The recidivism rates

This is the next important topic, which I only in short want to mention. Once upon a time, a Dutch professor has said that the recidivism rate for pedosexuality (he said: “pedophilia”), is higher than 90%. This is not true. Since decennia and since a lot of research, this rate runs from about 3 onto about 30%, with a constant mean of 13.4%. This is far below the general recidivism rate, which is 70% or more.
Please, remember this percentage 13.4. Important is that the recidivism rate is lower after treatment: between 3 and 10 %.

Important question: which kind of treatment? Seto gives us a response to this question, which I will mention soon hereafter.

4. Seto's recent research reports

Seto’s book from 2008 is one of the most quoted reports. In 2018, he has published a second edition of his book:

Michael C. Seto
Pedophilia and Sexual Offending Against Children
Theory, Assessmend, and Intervention
Second Edition, 2018 APA Order Department, Washington

This second edition is a valuable source of knowledge. It gives an excellent overview of lots of studies and results.

Important is his árticle from 2012, in which he proposes to view pedophilia as a sexual orientation, just as a gay- or a hetero-sexual orientation, maybe a bit deviant, but a deviance is not in anticipation a distortion or perversion. It depends on how the person with pedophilia acts, or does not act, with his or her orientation. You may see a pedosexual act as a distorted or perverse act, but pedophilia as such is a neutral orientation, a feeling, a desire – and you, as upcoming criminologists, know very well that not any law in any state can label feelings or desires as illegal. Behavior can be illegal, feelings cannot.

Since this article, many writers use the word orientation. Seto himself also. Moreover, throughout his whole book, he does not speak about pedophiles, as an identity, but about “people with pedophilia”: an attribute of a much broader identity. I myself never use the word pedophile, I always speak about people with pedophile feelings.

A good and specific contribution to better theories is that Seto proves that the far majority of the research is done with samples from clinics and prisons, thus with convicted people – with pedophilia (some of them) or without pedophilia (most of them) – so it is not correct to generalize the conclusions to all persons with pedophilia.

It is not possible to summarize his book here and now in short. In my list of links, and in the web version of this lecture, I give a link to a file that gives the introduction and the afterword in full, and summaries of each chapter:

< >

Yet, I want to mention one result of his report about research that is done. As I have said, each methodology, thus each kind of treatment, is based on visions, philosophy, a view on human, humankind and society. I also have told that there are two main views: the psychodynamic or action view and the behavioral view.

There are treatment programs based on the behavioral view, named “Sex Offender Treatment Programs”, “cognitive behavioral therapy” and “relapse prevention”, meant to diminish the recidivism. A well-known principle is: No cure but control.
In a research program, named Sex Offender Treatment Evaluation Project (SOTEP), this kind of programs is evaluated.

I quote Seto, page 205:

“The final SOTEP report found that the program had the desired effects on within-treatment goals, such as greater acceptance of responsibility and reduced atypical sexual arousal, but it had no impact on recidivism.” …
“The SOTEP report was a watershed moment because the sexual offender treatment had to figure out what to do next.” …
“… other approaches to sex offender treatment have emerged.”

On page 210, 211 and 212 Seto reviews 14 studies that also evaluated this kind of treatment. He tells us that these studies have concluded that this kind of treatment has no effects on behavior or recidivism, or even negative effects.

So, other models have been developed:

  • Self-regulation (blz 205 & 206); try to avoid a delict
  • Good Lives Model (GLM) (blz 206 ev) … How are you able to reach your aims in a more social way? … The ‘positive psychology’ says: … note and reinforce the positive factors … work in a holistic way … activate the social context … accept and respect your and the client’s needs and aims … create a good therapeutic relationship … individualize the treatment.
  • The Risk Need Responsivity model (RNR)(page 207) … See and reinforce the strengths of the person … create protecting factors.

Note that the principle No cure but control has changed here into No Control but Cure. Note that the client now no longer is seen as a bundle of behavior, caused by factors – the behavioral model – but as a human being capable of making his own decisions, with needs and aims that are to respect, a human with inner strengths. In other words: that the change is from the behavioral model onto the psychodynamic model and its underlying philosophy.


Thank you for your attention, I want to repeat seven main topics, in the form of requests to you.

  1. Please, make a distinction between pedophilia, feelings, and pedosexuality, acts.
  2. Do not see pedophilia as an identity, but as an attribute ‘ètt…’] , and pedosexuality not as an identity, but as an act. If you do research, do not study the persons, because persons with pedophilic feelings will, as the famous Dutch Dr Brongersma have said, appear as ‘just normal people’; study the phenomena: feeling/desiring, acting, non-acting.
  3. Please, remember the importance and the consequences of the choices young people in their twenties have made, of will make:
    (a) suppressing their feelings and avoiding working with children or even meeting them; the feelings will come back like a eruption, or
    (b) accepting one’s feelings and working with and meeting children in a normal way, according to society’s rules; one might have a quite happy life.
    Thus: do not forbid people with pedophilic feelings to work with or to meet children, which just was done in the sex offender treatment programs.
    Remember the SOTEP evaluation of these programs: they do not work.
  4. Please, remember the numbers of the Rind meta-research: remember the relatively low percentages of lasting harm, and remember the 1% effect size from sexual experience during childhood, and the 9% effect size of a problematic family environment.
  5. Please, remember that the recidivism rate of sex offenders is neither 100%, nor 90%, but 13,4%, - and between 3 and 10 % after treatment. This is far below the general recidivism rate, which is 70% or more.
  6. Thus, as criminologists, please, know and spread the idea that, for offenders, treatment is better than punishment – and that non-offenders need another kind of help than offenders.
  7. Please, remember the seven years of lonesome worrying of the youngsters between 15 and 22 years of age.
    Please, give your positive and helping attention to this young people.

I thank you again for your attention.

Useful links: are given in a separate page:
< >

Maybe you might have a look at the home page of this website, and see e.g. my lecture in Paris 2001 - and more. Click on [Start / Up] here below.

[ Start / Up  ]