What is a pedophile?
Pedophile is said to be someone who practices pedophilia.
It is defined by the World Health Organization as the occurrence of sexual practices between an individual over 16 years of age with a child in pre-puberty. Psychoanalysis sees pedophilia as a sexual perversion.
According to psychologists specializing in child abuse from Michigan, in the United States, about 80% of cases of sexual abuse of children take place in the intimacy of the home: parents, stepparents and uncles are the main aggressors.
Sexual abuse of minors damages the structure and functions of the abused child's brain, including those that play an important role in memory and emotions. The internet is the biggest vehicle for advertising children's eroticism today. In the United States, the production and commercialization of child pornography has been prohibited since 1970.
In Brazil, Article 241 of the Child and Adolescent Statute establishes the penalty of imprisonment from one to four years and fine for anyone who photographs or publishes scenes of explicit sex or pornography involving children and adolescents.
What does the Bible say about Pedophilia?
There is no direct mention of pedophilia in the Bible. However, there are several Biblical principles that definitely apply to this wicked and abusive sin. One is the Bible's view of the sin of fornication. The word translated "fornication" has the same idea in both the Hebrew and the Greek. The Greek word is porneia, from which we get the words porno and pornography. The word in the Bible refers to any illegal sexual activity, and that would have to include the heinous acts of a pedophile - including the collection and marketing of obscene or indecent photos of children. People who use this type of pornography usually progress from looking to doing, bringing the kids big. Fornication is one of the "desires of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16-21) and one of the evil things that come from the heart of a man separated from God (Mark 7:21-23).
Pedophiles share the characteristic of being "without natural affection" (Romans 1:31, 2 Timothy 3:2). The phrase "without natural affection" is translated from a Greek word meaning "inhuman, loveless, and unsociable." One without natural affection acts in ways that are against the social norm. That certainly describes a pedophile.
Furthermore, there is a principle found in Jesus' words about children. Jesus used a child to describe to his disciples what faith is needed to enter the kingdom of heaven. At the same time, He said that the Father cares for all His "little ones" (Matthew 18:1-14). In that passage Jesus says, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 18:10). The word despise in Greek means "to cause a stumbling block, to put a stumbling block or obstacle in the way, over which one can stumble and fall, to lure a person into sin or to lead a person to begin to distrust and abandon someone whom he must obey and in whom to trust."
These definitions of the word despise can easily be applied to the actions of a pedophile. Of course, the principle of not harming a child can be applied to a wide range of abusive actions, and Matthew 18:10 argues against harming a child of any kind.
Signs that a child may be being abused?
- Change in behavior
The first sign to be observed is a possible change in the behavior pattern of children. According to Ribeiro, this is an easily noticeable factor, as it usually occurs suddenly and abruptly.
"For example, if the child has never acted in a certain way and, suddenly, starts to act. Having fears that he/she did not have before - of the dark, of being alone or close to certain people. Or else extreme changes in mood: the child was super extroverted and becomes very introverted. He/she was super calm and becomes aggressive.
The change in behavior can also occur in relation to a specific person, the possible abuser.
- Excessive closeness
Although, in many cases, the child demonstrates rejection towards the abuser, it is necessary to use common sense to identify when excessive proximity can also be a sign.
It would have been the case, for example, with the coach football player Fernando Sierra, who had an almost paternal relationship with the boy Felipe Romero. The coach picked the boy up from school, disappeared, and both were found dead two days later.
The main hypothesis is that the coach shot the boy and then committed suicide for not accepting a request from the mother to stay away from the child. A preliminary autopsy report indicated that the boy had been the victim of sexual abuse.
It is important to note, however, that the role of the stranger as a rapist increases with the age of the victim - that is, in the abuse of minors, violence is usually practiced by family members in most cases.
If, upon arriving at the house of uncles and aunts, for example, the child disappears for hours playing with an older cousin or if he is the target of a unusual interest of older family members in situations where they are alone without supervision, it is necessary to be aware of what may be happening in this relationship.
Another indication pointed out by the specialists is to resort to childish behaviors, which the child had already abandoned, but suddenly returns to present. Simple things like wetting the bed or going back to sucking the thumb. Or even start crying for no apparent reason.
"It is also possible to observe the characteristics of this child's social relationships. If, suddenly, he/she starts to present these childish behaviors. Or if he/she starts to want to be isolated, not staying close to friends, not trusting anyone. Or running away from any physical contact. Children and teenagers always warn, but most of the time not verbally, considers Ribeiro.
The director of the The NGO Childhood Brasil warns, however, that it is important to seek specialized evaluation that may indicate whether any changes in behavior are just part of the child's development or indicative of vulnerability.
To keep the victim silent, the abuser can threaten physical violence and promote blackmail so as not to expose photos or secrets shared by the victim.
It is also common for them to use gifts, money or other types of material benefit to build the relationship with the victim. It is also necessary to explain to the child that no adult or older child should keep secrets that cannot be shared with trusted adults, such as the mother or father.
A child victim of abuse also presents sudden habit changes. It could be anything from a change at school, such as a lack of concentration or a refusal to participate in activities, to changes in food and clothing.
"Sometimes the child suddenly starts to look more careless, does not want to change clothes. Others start not eating right. Or they start to eat too much", pointed out Ribeiro.
The change in appearance can also be a form of protection found by the child. In an interview with BBC Brazil last year, swimmer Joanna Maranhão, who was the victim of sexual abuse by her coach when she was nine, revealed that she dressed like a boy in her teens to escape possible violence.
Ribeiro also cites changes in the child's sleep pattern as an indication that something is not going well. "If she starts to suffer from frequent nightmares, or if she is afraid to sleep or afraid to be alone."
- Sexuality issues
A drawing, a "joke" or a more embarrassed behavior can be signs that a child is experiencing abuse. "When a child who, for example, has never talked about sexuality starts to draw pictures of genitals, this can be an indicator", pointed out Maria Helena Vilela.
"It can come in the form of a game too. invites friends to games that have a sexual nature or something like that", observed Henrique Costa Brojato, psychologist and psychosocial specialist at Rede Marista de Solidariedade. They can even reproduce the abuser's behavior in other children.
For Heloísa Ribeiro, the warning should be given especially to children who, even when young, start to show a "public interest" in sexual matters. "When she, instead of hugging a family member, kisses, caresses where she should not, or when she makes a joke too much for that side of sexuality."
The use of words different from those learned at home to refer to intimate parts is also a reason to ask the child where he learned that expression.
- Physical issues
There are also the most obvious signs of sexual violence in minors - cases that leave physical marks that even can be used as evidence in court. There are situations in which the child even ends up contracting a sexually transmitted disease.
"There are cases of teenage pregnancy, for example, caused by abuse. Bruises or pain and swelling in the genital regions", noted the director of Childhood.
Sexual abuse is often accompanied by other types of abuse that the victim suffers at home, like negligence.
A child who spends hours without supervision or who does not have the emotional support of the family, with an open dialogue with the parents, will be in a situation of greater vulnerability.