When I read this story, all I could think was, what? That mixed with disgust were my only thoughts.
Where do I begin? Researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of Lethbridge have joined together to conduct a study on pedophiles. They want to pay 250 sex offenders $60 each to view pictures of fully dressed children and measure their responses. They want to measure two different kinds of pedophiles: the ones who have only downloaded child porn and the ones convicted of abusing children. This is, apparently, so they can better manage and treat pedophiles.
Feel the rage. Can you feel it? I know I can. Everytime I read this story, I have to sit for a second afterwards so the rage can discipate. First of all, why oh why would you pay criminals to view pictures of things related to their crime? That is so wrong, it’s beyond words. Why why why would you think this is a good idea, and how in the blue bloody hell did you get it past an ethics board? I know the ethics boards are usually most concerned with the impact of a study on the participants, but even that raises red flags for me. If you’re getting people who are sexually attracted to children to look at pictures of children, you are intentionally feeding their depravity! It’s not like the only time they get the urge to sexually assault a child is right after they just saw one naked. They get attracted by watching kids play at the playground. And I think some of these guys are out on probation. So, by making them look at pictures of kids, you’re going to steer their mind towards kids, making them more likely to reoffend, which is already something that is highly possible. Smart thinking there, Sparticus, real smart.
Second, I have a problem with their two groups of offenders. I assume they’re dividing the sex offenders by conviction records. So, How do they know that the one group has only downloaded porn? How do they know they haven’t molested children and just haven’t been caught yet? They should know that the incidence of crime is much higher than the incidence of reported crime, which is higher than the actual conviction rate. I think most people know that. So how do they even know that they’re dealing with two different groups?
Third, if you must do a study on pedophiles, why have them look at pictures? Why not ask them questions? I know measuring actual responses is more accurate, but in this case, I don’t think measuring that stuff is such a good idea.
Finally, if you’re going to conduct a study like this, you’d better give me a detailed explanation of how this is going to help society. No, “It will help us understand pedophilia better so we can better manage and treat pedophiles” doesn’t cut it. Give me something I can attempt to grasp and has a snowball’s chance of justifying the risk and the money spent encouraging pedophiles.
I’m still processing the fact that this research got the go-ahead, and even got a grant! I would be disgusted if something like this was being conducted on a voluntary basis, but the money is the final straw. Let’s just hope that this study doesn’t cause any of the participants to reoffend. I don’t think any ethics board would want that on their head.