The mind of a pedophile

Friday, April 26th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Authorities say it's not unusual for parents to be fooled by people who harm children. Friendliness is one of the hallmarks of child molesters and pedophiles.

News on Six medical reporter Tami Marler explains, some of the other traits of child sex offenders. "I'm Fred and I'm a child molester." They aren't easy words to say, but taking responsibility is part of this program for sex offenders at the Harp Correctional Center in Lexington.

The News on Six took you there ten years ago. Sex offenders go through a series of stages including group work. The Department of Corrections program teaches the offender the triggers that might give them the impulse to offend again. Even with treatment though, can you really change sexual preference? "We can give them the tools to change their preference. Whether they're really changed or not, it's hard to say, because you know at some point they do leave from our supervision."

Once a sex offender is released on probation to the Tulsa area, he's under the supervision of Tom Nelson and his team. "We all work very closely together so that at least while we have them under supervision, we try to contain them." Offenders are required to continue in groups like this one.. as a condition of probation. "Without intervention, a lot of them will re-offend." "I'm Ernest and I'm a rapist and child molester."

Not all child molesters are pedophiles, some, like Ernest, show arousal patterns with children and adults. Not all pedophiles are homosexual, some abuse children of the same sex. Some, children of the opposite sex. Tom Nelson says it's a preference, a fine line between "illness" and "choice." "They do have choices about who they victimize, but they are driven by impulses that a lot of us don't understand."

Tom Nelson says child molesters will put themselves in a setting where they have easy access to victims, and they often appear successful and trustworthy.

Nelson says that's why it's important to constantly talk with your children, and know who they're spending their time with.