'Pedo hunting' could increase child sex abuse, Probation service warns
"Pedo hunters", groups in the Netherlands who target people they suspect of being pedophiles, may actually increase the risk of child sex abuse, the Dutch Probation Service warned. By trying to expose or isolate people with a pedophilic orientation, you may push them to the point where they feel they have nothing left to lose - with all the consequences that entails, Maaike Blok, sex crime specialist at the Probation Service, said to NOS.
The police recently told AD that there have been around 250 "pedo hunting" incidents in the country since July. In some cases, groups of citizens try to expose people they believe are child sex abusers, or detain them for the police. In other cases, violence is used. A 73-year-old man from Arnhem was recently killed in such a pedo hunt.
This phenomenon can seriously backfire, Blok said to NOS. For people with a pedophilic orientation - people who are sexually attracted to children under the age of 13, an estimated 1 to 3 percent of the male population - it is essential that they can talk about their struggle with those feelings, so that they can come to terms with the fact that they can never act on their sexual preference, Blok said. "Three quarters of pedophiles do nothing in practice with their sexuality," Blok said.
But pedophiles who see no room to express their feelings run the risk of becoming socially isolated, which increases the chance that they will commit a crime. This could happen to people who worry about being exposed by "pedo hunters". "What can happen then, we notice in practice, is that people get the idea that they have nothing to lose, with all the consequences that entails," Blok said.
A big part of rehabilitation for convicted sex offenders is the Circle of Support, Cooperation and Accountability, in which volunteers help sex offenders build a social network to break through their social isolation, Blok said. "Everyone hates child sex abuse. We all agree on that: the so-called pedo hunters, but believe me, also people with a pedophilic sexual preference. Only, they just have those feelings. What matters must be how you prevent that they actually do something with it. What threatens here is that well-intentioned initiatives actually contribute to criminal behavior."
Blok emphasized that 50 to 80 percent of child sex abuse is not committed by pedophiles. In these cases, the perpetrator is often someone the victim knows, who can have all kinds of motives for sexually abusing a child.