Multi-disciplinary definitions and understandings of ‘paedophilia’
Harrison, K., Manning , R. and McCartan, K. (2010) Multi-disciplinary definitions and understandings of ‘paedophilia’. Social & Legal Studies, 19 (4). pp. 481-496. ISSN 0964-6639
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0964663910369054
Despite the current high-profile concern over paedophiles and paedophilic activity, there is no easily accessible or widely accepted multi-disciplinary definition of paedophilia. Commentators have pointed to a general contemporary misunderstanding surrounding the subject of paedophilia, and to the tensions between strong beliefs and facts in both societal and correctional contexts. We suggest that the current situation — societal, clinical and legal — can be problematic for both offenders and practitioners who are currently charged with, and involved in the risk treatment and/or management of paedophiles. This article attempts to begin to address these issues by looking at conceptions of paedophilia from a multi-disciplinary viewpoint. We examine understandings from clinical and legal sources, and present this analysis in a historical and cultural context. In drawing these divergent conceptions together, we highlight various contradictions and discrepancies. We suggest that these inconsistencies present significant problems in terms of professional engagement with paedophilia and paedophiles, and as a result illustrate the need to engage in more detailed debate regarding what constitutes ‘the problem’.