I read an article in the news a while back about the former lead singer of Welsh band Lostprophets being found guilty of committing various sex offences against children.
The story stunned me, as I’m sure it has others who’ve read it. Not because the guy was a celebrity, but because I felt sympathy for the guy.
I am not a paedophile, nor have I ever been. At some point in his life, that was true for Ian Watkins too. What happened to change him I don’t know. I doubt it was a sudden thing, that on one day he woke up and had sexual impulses related to children. I imagine it to have been a gradual slope down into addiction. The drink and the drugs were probably similar in that regard, like a thickening wedge.
I feel sorry for him because I believe he felt powerless to stop it. I feel sorry that he went through whatever trauma he did. I feel sorry that his fame has now been traded for infamy. I feel sorry that he will have to face people who will never forgive him. I feel sorry that he had nowhere to go for help.
Right now I feel a little powerless too. Child sex offences are in the news a lot these days, but the only solution I hear offered is a harsh punishment. We should be doing something to identify the problem at the root, before anyone gets hurt.
I know of online petitions written asking that rape be talked about in school. I think they should also talk about pedophilia. Many guys will experience sexual urges they cannot explain, why don’t schools teach people how to manage these? I admit that’s hard, but at least acknowledging that some people will have mixed up urges due to issues in their past would be useful.
Sex education for me consisted of saying what each gender has and that the men should wear a condom. In a school with a number of teenage pregnancies, I can understand why there was an unspoken assumption that people would have sex. They knew their pupils had urges to do it and that any child will break the rules to test them.
The children in school today have access to porn on their phones and are sexting. Their childhood is being swapped for sexual discoveries. When I was growing it was clear that “the conversation” had to happen about when puberty hit. Nowadays that may be too late, as some children as young as five are being excluded for sexual misconduct (source: Independent).
The big question is what can we do? The answer is whatever we can. Use what’s available to you, whether that being talking to your kids, writing to your MPs or setting up better parental controls at home. If we take responsibility for this rather than passing the buck, it will improve.