Collegiate sports has been rocked recently with an evolving scandal regarding Ephebophilia activity by a long term coach at Penn State University. It seems that a number of victims have now come forward to indict one Jerry Sanduskey, their former defensive coach...who is now defending himself against his accusers. The report that another staff member observed him in the showers with a young boy years ago doesn't seem to phase his claims of innocence. Of course, anyone with experience with Pedophiles or "Paraphilias" knows this is part of their psyche. They can never acknowledge the power or control of their addiction. Many of them are married with children...which is usually more about covering up their true nature than for any real drive towards women and family.
First, lets clarify the differences between Pedophilia and other Paraphilias per Wikipedia...
In research environments, specific terms are used for chronophilias: for instance, ephebophilia refers to the sexual preference for mid-to-late adolescents, hebephilia refers to the sexual preference for earlier pubescent individuals, and pedophilia refers to the sexual preference for prepubescent children. However, the term pedophilia is commonly, but incorrectly, used to refer to any sexual interest in minors below the legal age of consent, regardless of their level of physical, mental, or psychological development. Acting upon ephebophilic preference is illegal when the adolescent is below the legal age of consent.
The nature of where these "philias" come from are up for debate. Up until 1973, homosexuality was deemed an illegal sexual deviation. Obviously most fundamental religions denounce it as deviant and sinful sexual behavior. While I have no first hand understanding or experience in homosexuality...I have learned that there are many adult "homosexuals" who function quite well in society and based on the frequency of those leaning that way, I tend to say "live and let live" in people`s private sex lives. On the other hand, when it comes to children and minors as sexual targets...it is time to draw the line. I have had enough first hand experience to know the devastation experienced by victims of these Paraphilias. I fear that these conditions are much more pervasive than most of us can imagine...and to that end we must all make ourselves aware and help minor children or family members avoid the potentially devastating experience of being a victim to adult predators.
Until recent years, I think most people unfortunately ducked their heads in the sand on these issues. Sex and sexual deviations have traditionally been "hush hush" as topics of conversation in traditional society. It has always struck me as ironic that while a majority of people are uncomfortable in a serious conversation about their sex-lives or preferences, these same people can be the quickest or most entertained when it comes to sexual humor. Perhaps we cover up our sexual insecurities by making fun of that which is most core to our being as humans and part of the animal kingdom.
Admittedly, I am not a professional psychologist...or sexologist...who specializes in these things. Yet, being a rational and "worldly" guy, I think I have some pretty solid guesses on causes and effects of sexuality and some of its deviations. I have two core theories...some of which was gained by reading on the subject...and some others...well, by experience...
1)Sex can be casual, or sex can be relationship based. These are the same actions based on different drives or needs. Some people are comfortable limiting their sex lives to long term relationships...while others thrive on variety and short term liaisons. I will leave the morality issue of all that to others for judgement...but I think both applications are common and not necessarily damaging unless there are unhealthy motivations behind the actions. Most people are passive and some are aggressive regarding their sexuality. I suppose some people have bigger "sex drives" than others...but I also think repression and guilt are associated with many people who have little sexual outlet. Consensual sex between any two adults is their own business.
2) The cause and effect of sexual repression and guilt will often lead to deviant behaviors such as we see in Hebephilia and other paraphilias. Many people who I have read about or talked to on this subject have come from some seriously "Victorian" cultures or families. Many were rejected sexually by "normal" sexual prospects or had general inferiority among members of their own sex in competing for the opposite sex. With homosexuality, I think there is something to genetic tendencies in this regard while others may be won over to the practice over time and peer pressure integration. Its not a simple "black/white" issue in my mind...and I think the paraphiliacs are in the same boat. Some act on their tendencies and others don`t...but I think there is a much larger percentage of our population who have these tendencies than anyone is willing to admit.
If that is the case, I think we are just seeing the "tip of the iceberg" when it comes to this Penn State case. While this one case is probably being way overblown and over-reacted to by the media...it IS about time society took a realistic view and stance on protecting the young victims of these crimes. To a degree, much of our society is as guilty as the whole coaching staff who supposedly "looked the other way" when they found out about these reported actions by their fellow coach. I have personally seen "up-close and personal" the denial and ignorance of the average person and the legal authorities on this issue. It is definitely time we do something about the pervasive ugliness of this problem and not only prosecute perpetrators...but get them help to deal with their serious illness while also educating children on how to defend themselves against potential aggression.
I think we don`t talk to kids about this because we want to "protect their innocence" on the subject...and in many cases we don`t want to acknowledge their own sexual awakenings at earlier and earlier stages of their childhoods. But, the cat is out of the bag...and it is my belief that it is better to risk a conversation ahead of time than take responsibility for something happening to a child that you could have avoided.
Here are some suggested guidelines I have read about towards having this conversation with minors... (some taken from this helpful article on the subject...)
First, you should be suspicious of someone who seems overly interested in your kids, especially if they're always angling to be alone with them. Unfortunately, this can go overboard to where parents don´t allow their kids to have any meaningful relationships or physical contact with adults. Our culture now seems quite paranoid about hugging, touching or kissing on the most casual basis...and even among family members. The hard part of parenting a child will be knowing what is inappropriate while allowing the child to experience family intimacy...and eventually sexual intimacy...without a stigma or guilt feelings. After all, guilt and repression in my observation leads to other forms of sexual deviation and lack of normalcy.
Tell your kids to never get close to a car if someone stops and asks for directions, lest they be snatched.
Make sure you know what your kids are doing on the computer. Tell them never to meet privately with anyone they have met online and never to give out personal information, like where they live.
Children should also know what to do if they get lost. It's helpful to give them a prepaid calling card to use if this happens: They should memorize their phone number and address. Tell them to call the police if they can't find you or reach you on the phone, and never to accept a ride or wait alone with an adult they don't know. If you're coming to fetch them, tell them to wait in a store or restaurant -- someplace where there are plenty of people around.
The relationship with your child is paramount to having them trust you. If they trust you to tell you even "bad things", it is more likely you will know about anything untoward happening to your child. I think it important to tell your kids at an early age that strangers, even other "kids", should never touch their genitals. Hopefully this is done in such a way as to make the child feel comfortable with their genitalia while being protective of themselves at the same time. There are many books and articles written on this subject for helpful suggestions.
Finally, what to do if these actions are observed or suspected... Obviously the staff at Penn State did NOT react appropriately. Pedo or Hebephilia when observed or reported by a minor should never go unreported. Police and various medical and psychological practices are available in most countries to deal with this crime. Knowing and not reporting is part of the crime. It is not going to be pleasant...and one wants to be quite sure of the charges before making them...but if there is little doubt about what has happened, it needs to be reported and dealt with immediately.
Remember, pedophilia and other psycho-sexual addictions are not curable. There can be treatment and/or incarceration, but a person who is mentally sick in this way will not change and cannot be allowed alone time with minors.
Here are some linked public sources of support and help on this subject: