Can Pedophilies Change?

Can Pedophilies Change?

The mental health community has long been interested in developing treatments for persons who are attracted to prepubescent children with the goal of preventing sexual offenses. In fact, if you search for “pedophilia treatments” or “pedophile therapy” on Google Scholar, you’ll get thousands of hits.

Numerous treatment approaches have been tested, with many focusing on finding a “cure.” For example, some studies have explored use of aversion therapy, in which something unpleasant (such as a very bad smell) is paired with child stimuli with the goal of reducing pedophilic desires. Others have looked at orgasmic reconditioning, which involves thinking about or speaking aloud socially appropriate fantasies while masturbating to orgasm in an attempt to learn new fantasies that are pleasurable. 

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Halloween Sex Offender Panic Is Here Again—But It’s Still Not Making Us Safer

Halloween Sex Offender Panic Is Here Again—But It’s Still Not Making Us Safer

Each October, the media runs story after story warning parents about the dangers that sex offenders pose to children on Halloween. All of the panic stoked by these claims has prompted lawmakers across the country to begin passing laws that restrict the activities of convicted sex offenders on Halloween or that require police officers to check up on sex offenders during trick-or-treat hours. For example, in Tennessee, registered sex offenders must comply with a 6pm – 6am curfew each day from October 21 until November 1, during which time they must stay home but act like they aren’t there. Among other things, they must keep their porch lights off, avoid using decorations, and only answer the door for law enforcement. During this time, police go around the state and perform thousands of random checks to ensure compliance. This massive effort is known officially as “Operation Blackout.”

But is it justified? Is there really such a heightened risk of sex crimes on Halloween that we need to go to such great lengths? Let's take a look at the data.

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Halloween Sex Offender Panic Is Here Again—But It’s Not Making Us Any Safer

Halloween Sex Offender Panic Is Here Again—But It’s Not Making Us Any Safer

Each October, the media runs story after story warning parents about the dangers that sex offenders pose to children on Halloween. All of the panic stoked by these claims has prompted lawmakers across the country to begin passing laws that restrict the activities of convicted sex offenders on Halloween or that require police officers to check up on sex offenders during trick-or-treat hours. For example, in Tennessee, registered sex offenders must comply with a 6pm – 6am curfew each day from October 21 until November 1, during which time they must stay home but act like they aren’t there. Among other things, they must keep their porch lights off, avoid using decorations, and only answer the door for law enforcement. During this time, police go around the state and perform thousands of random checks to ensure compliance. This massive effort is known officially as “Operation Blackout.”

But is it justified? Is there really such a heightened risk of sex crimes on Halloween that we need to go to such great lengths? Let's take a look at the data.

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Why Laws Restricting Sex Offenders' Activities on Halloween are Misguided

Why Laws Restricting Sex Offenders' Activities on Halloween are Misguided

It has become an October tradition for the media to run story after story warning parents that sex offenders are at an increased risk of committing sex crimes against children on Halloween. All of the panic stoked by these claims has prompted lawmakers across the country to begin passing laws that restrict the activities of convicted sex offenders on Halloween--such as mandatory curfews--or that require police officers to check up on sex offenders during trick-or-treat hours. 

But is it true that there's a higher risk of sex crimes taking place on Halloween? And is there any evidence that laws like this actually make us safer? Let's take a look at the data.

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Do We Need Laws Restricting Sex Offenders' Activities On Halloween?

Do We Need Laws Restricting Sex Offenders' Activities On Halloween?

In the weeks leading up to Halloween, it has become tradition for the media to run article after article warning parents that sex offenders may use the holiday as a means of sexually exploiting children. This has created such a panic that lawmakers across the country have even begun to pass laws restricting the activities of convicted sex offenders on Halloween, or that require police officers to check up on them during Trick or Treat hours. Are such laws truly necessary, though? Is there really an increased risk of sex crimes on Halloween in the first place? Let's take a look at the data.

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Are There More Sex Crimes On Halloween?

Every time Halloween rolls around, people start telling stories about “Halloween sadism,” or the practice of providing trick-or-treaters with tainted treats. Parents are told to be on the lookout for everything from razor blades in Reece Cups to cyanide-laced Good & Plenty. Despite how much we hear about Halloween sadism in the popular media, there has never been a substantiated case of death or serious injury linked to it. Nonetheless, the myth persists and it continues to frighten parents to this day. But this isn’t the only thing today’s parents are told to worry about on Halloween—they are also being told to watch out for sex offenders using costumes and candy to prey upon innocent children (here’s just one example of what the media is telling people, complete with creepy photoshopped image: Halloween Warning to Parents: Look for Sex Offenders). This concern has even prompted some states to pass laws regulating the activities of convicted sex offenders on Halloween. But is all of this worry about increased risk justified, or are we being fed another media myth?
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