Bioethics Blogs

Pedophilia: Prevention or Paternalism?

by Mike Reaves

“There is no cure, so the focus is on protecting children.”[i]

Harvard Medical Health Letter, July 2010

Pedophilia, or the sexual attraction to children who have yet to reach puberty, continues to perplex clinicians and researchers in the 21st century. There is often much confusion surrounding this term, as society commonly groups pedophiles alongside child molesters. However, not all persons with these sexual interests actually act on them. Many individuals who have these sexual preferences stay celibate their entire lives. While there may be no cure for pedophilia, there are new treatment options that may be available to the public in 2018.

Researchers at Karolinska Institute in Sweden are attempting to fund a full-scale scientific drug trial that may provide hope for those seeking treatment. Dr. Christoffer Ramm is the principal investigator of this research study; his background includes research on the neuropsychological aspects of psychosis. His team refers to their work with the acronym PRIOTAB, or “Pedophilia at Risk – Investigations of Treatment and Biomarkers,” a collective that seeks to make society safer – both for children and those who suffer from these complex disorders. In their study proposal, Priotab notes that in Sweden 10% of boys and 5% of girls are sexually assaulted; and individuals with pedophilic disorder commit 50% of these assaults.[ii] The Priotab team claims that they can repurpose the pharmaceutical drug Degarelix, which has typically been used to treat prostate cancer. The team believes an effective treatment will reduce the social stigma associated with seeking treatment for pedophilia and also protect those who cannot protect themselves.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.