The Nature Of Paedophilia



Three years on from the murder of their daughter April Jones by paedophile Mark Bridger, her parents Coral and Paul are calling for help to be given to paedophiles to stop them offending. Perhaps surprising views given their loss, but should we be giving this idea a lot more thought? And how can we stop child abuse by paedophiles when we understand very little about them?

BBC health correspondent Matthew Hill looks at the subject from a scientific point of view and examines what we do know about paedophilia. He explores the latest scientific research on what causes it, whether it is a treatable illness and how our understanding of the condition has implications for the best way to manage it.

He talks to leading neuroscientists about what is going in the brains of paedophiles and visits the NeMUP project in Germany; a research consortium studying the neurobiological mechanisms underlying paedophilia.

Matthew considers whether our collective revulsion of paedophiles is getting in the way of preventing child sexual abuse. If they were less vilified, would they be more willing to seek help and would this prevent offences being committed? With exclusive access to two paedophiles, Matthew finds out what it is like to be seen by society as a monster and what support is available in the UK.

And if paedophilia is a medical condition that needs our understanding, should we not be investing more in preventative treatment? The NSPCC and police service think so and believe we need to adopt a public health approach. The programme also speaks to “Don’t Offend”, a unique prevention project taking place in Germany.

Producer: Helena Selby

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

{Image: Brain differences between paedophiles and non-paedophiles illustrated in Dr James Cantor’s white matter study}