Chemical castration is on the political agenda in the UK again. The suggestion is to offer libido-reducing drugs on a voluntary basis to paedophiles to try to stop them re-offending. However, there are problems with the plan.
Few crimes are rightly seen as horrendous as the paedophile’s activities. Deep down we want to do anything to stop these people. But for as long as they are classed as criminals, measures against them will be ineffective.
THE PROBLEM WITH CRIMINALITY
The first problem is, of course, that which is at first voluntary becomes compulsory. In the modern world, ‘voluntary’ is simply the first stage, getting the public used to a new measure.
In paedophilia, we might say, good, bring it on. We need to stop these monsters any way we can. But by allowing a chemical precaution in one area of criminality, how long will it be before we bring it in for other areas?
Could we soon face a world where a character-type is seen as likely to commit a crime, requiring a frightening world where drugs would fight criminality before it happened? The dream may be well intended, but it would end up a nightmare.
Far better, I think, to re-classify the whole subject of paedophilia. Research is moving into the possibility of it being a personality disorder, rather than criminal. Is it time to remove the subject from the area of crime altogether?
If we do so, first of all, as in schizophrenia – which, by the way, can also lead to otherwise ‘criminal’ activity – drugs are already accepted as a preventative measure, required for a person to have freedom.
And another obvious good point of a reclassification is that a paedophile could be removed from society by virtue of being diagnosed, without having to wait for a crime to be committed.
My gut instinct is that paedophile activities should be a crime. It assaults my emotions that such monsters be treated other than as monsters, and punished accordingly. But there should be no room in law for emotion.
Surely we need to take measures that do most good for society by curbing paedophile crime as much as possible. In all respects, this can better be achieved by seeing it as a personality disorder rather than criminal activity.
© Anthony North, June 2007
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