- Pedophilia is a moral failure.
Like drug addiction, alcohol abuse and other bad behaviors, medical experts say pedophilia is a diagnosable medical and psychological condition. Researchers are investigating the idea that there may differences in the brains of pedophiles that could be linked to brain injuries stemming from trauma or alcohol abuse.
"It makes sense," said Thomas Plante, professor of psychiatry at Santa Clara University who treats pedophiles. "If someone has a head injury, they have impulse control troubles to begin with. With diminished executive functioning they will make all sorts of bad decisions."
Plante cautioned that not all victims of head injuries are pedophiles.
- Pedophiles cruise local playgrounds or the Internet for victims.
The vast majority of the abuse against minors is from either a family member, or someone they know such as a coach, teacher or church leader, according to Dr. Fred Berlin, founder and director of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic in Baltimore.
"This notion of the creepy stranger," Berlin said. "That's a rarity."
Several experts interviewed by Discovery News said accurate data on the incidence of child molesters or pedophiles in the general population is hard to come by since it relies on self-reporting or hypothetical questions. However, a 2009 study by the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center of 4,500 children and caregivers nationwide found that 21.7 percent of girls and 3.3 percent of boys reported some form of unwanted sexual contact.