What follows emerges from the confluence of two earlier essays on ConsentingA̶d̶u̶l̶t̶s̶Humans. Ideally the reader should (re)familarise him or herself with these before plunging into what follows.
In the first of these tributary essays, Dr Cantor & the Case of the Extrapolated Equivalence, I summarise Dr Cantor’s research on paedophile offenders, and investigate some general problems with his approach.
The second tributary essay – Stigma and Paedophilia – the Early Years – concerns itself with the effects of stigma on the self-image, mental health, social life and education of young people coming to terms with the fact that they are paedophiles whilst still undergoing compulsory education.
What follows develops the general critique of the first essay by focusing on Cantor’s claim that brain-functioning deficiencies in his sample of paedophile offenders can best be explained by a genetic or gestational aetiology. I particularly focus on his use of what he calls ‘grade failure’ (poor school performance) as a covariate of adult brain functioning.
Cantor has been stigma-blind with respect to paedophiles. This stigma-blindness is not only prospective (meaning that once a paedophile has offended any prejudice or discrimination they subsequently experience is not ‘stigma’ but ‘justice’ ) but is retrospective (meaning that once a paedophile has offended any stigma they experienced before offending becomes ‘justice’ not ‘stigma’).
This stigma-blindess has caused the methodological flaws this essay identifies. Granted, a detached attitude to the subjects one is studying is laudable and helps one keep a clear head. But the methodological blundering revealed in what follows should be a lesson to researchers: contempt for those you study can blind you to the obvious just as much as can compassion.
Moreover the fact that fellow scientists and peer reviewers have not picked up on these errors shows how eager they have been to approve any old shit, provided it dehumanises us.
Many words and phrases in what follows (offender, offence, victim) should really be enclosed in scare quotes. A profusion of scare quotes makes for uncomfortable reading so I have left it to the reader to accept or reject the implications of loaded words as and when they occur.
An overview of Cantor’s research on intelligence in paedophile offenders
Cantor recruited volunteers for all his ‘paedophile’ studies from the Kurt Freund Laboratory at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, in Toronto, Canada. The Kurt Freund Laboratory provides evaluation services to male patients referred as a result of illegal or clinically significant sexual behaviours. The primary source of their referrals is correctional institutions, parole and probation officers, children’s protective societies, with physicians and lawyers providing others.
Cantor used empirical means – including phallometric tests, interviews, the details of their offense, and past criminal records to sort these ‘volunteers’ into the categories of paedophile, hebephile or teleiophile. [paragraph added 17/06/2017].
In 2004 Cantor published a study (Intelligence, Memory, and Handedness in Pedophilia – 2004) which measured the rates of right-handedness, short and long-term memory and IQ in samples of teleiophile, hebephile and paedophile offenders.
All previous studies on paedophile offenders had hitherto used men from the general population as control groups. But in this study Cantor used teleiophiles convicted of sex-offenses against adults. This was in order to eliminate general criminality, or the sexual nature of the offenses, as explanations for any anomalies detected in his paedophile sample.
He found that rates of right-handedness, short and long-term memory, and IQ all progressively decreased as one tracked the continuum of chronophilias backwards (teleiophilia -> hebephilia -> paedophilia).
In 2005 Cantor published two papers that confirmed the 2004 paper’s findings concerning IQ (Quantitative Reanalysis of Aggregate Data on IQ in Sexual Offenders – 2005) and handedness (Handedness in Pedophilia and Hebephilia – 2005). In this research 30% of his sample of paedophiles were left-handed. Normally about 10% of the general population are left-handed. Apparently, the only other group that display such a high level of left-handedness are the schizophrenic.
But Cantor realised that intelligence and memory deficiencies in paedophile offenders could be explained by environmental factors: upbringing, background, trauma, disease. They also could also be a result of selection bias – offenders who were less intelligent and/or who had poorer memories being more likely to get caught and end up in his sample.
But handedness is a characteristic that establishes itself before birth – the foetus already showing a tendency to suck the thumb of its dominant hand. Nor is handedness likely to lead to selection bias: it is hard to imagine how being left-handed could predispose an offender to being caught.
This suggested to Cantor that whatever was going wrong in the brains of paedophiles must have its origins early in the brain’s development.
Cantor then sought to ascertain whether the brain deficiencies he was finding in his samples of paedophile offenders were gestational or a result of environmental influences. The best way to do this would have been to compare the current IQ scores of his samples with their childhood IQ scores.
But childhood IQ scores did not exist for his sample. So Cantor used the next best thing: academic career.
“grade failure and identification as having special education needs during primary or secondary education [are] indicators of early developmental pathology”
(Grade Failure and Special Education Placement in SexualOffenders’ Educational Histories – 2006)
This study revealed the now-familiar pattern of diminishing brain-function along teleio-hebe-paedo continuum. Paedophile offenders having the most ‘grade failure’ – twice as much as teleiophilic non-offenders.
(note the bias behind Cantor’s naming of the categories in the table to the right. He refers to ‘teleiophilic sexual offenders‘, but does not use the word ‘offenders’ for either hebephiles or paedophiles. Instead he uses the word ‘men’, implicitly generalising from ‘offenders’ to ‘paedophiles in general’, regardless of whether they have offended or not).
For Cantor this provided strong evidence that the reduced brain-functioning he was picking up in his samples of paedophile offenders was not down to environmental or psycho-social factors, but was gestational or genetic. For if paedophiles were showing reduced brain-functioning in childhood – this could not be attributed to their being paedophiles, or being sex-offenders or having entered the criminal justice system.
Cantor doesn’t give a detailed breakdown of the IQ tests he conducted for the ‘Grade Failure’ paper. However he does give one for the earlier ‘Intelligence, Memory, and Handedness in Pedophilia‘ paper. Here is a table summarising those results:
I’ll slap my inadequacies on the table and invite you to get the ruler out: I’m no statistician and most of the above table means nothing to me. But what I think I can take from it is that the average IQ of his sample of adult paedophile offenders was eight points below that of teleiophile sex offenders and ten points below the average of 100.
Paedophiles having ten IQ-points fewer than average hardly explains them having twice as much ‘grade failure’.
I have worked with children in special education. Children rarely undergo special education measures simply because of low intelligence. There are usually there for other problems – social, familial, behavioural, cultural, linguistic, motivational, school phobia &c
I myself realised I was a paedophile quite late in my schooling: at 16: the average ‘Age of Onset’ (to use the scientific term) for paedophilia.
I had as pleasant and easy an ‘onset’ as I could wish anyone, with supportive friends and a family background in critical thinking that prepared me to make sense of what I was going through.
Yet, I am aware that from the moment I realised I was a paedophile my academic career was negatively affected. Indeed, not only did I not make it into the university my parents and teachers had me earmarked for, but at the end of my first year I had to change university after an unwise ‘coming out’.
In short I suspect that brain-funtioning deficiencies are far from the only explanation for ‘grade failure’.
the paradox of the paedophile child
In the section headed ‘The Onset of Stigma’ of my previous essay I argue that we can postulate ages at which it is possible to first realise that one has a particular chronophilia. Depending on the nature of the desire, this age can be very young, well anterior to puberty.
However, Society is reluctant to attribute sexuality to prepubescents. A child of 9 who engages in intimacy with a child of 3 will be thought of as doing so out of curiosity, experimentation, or because they have been in some way corrupted. Any motivation that does not imply sexuality will do. Once into puberty, once the child can be acknowledged as ‘sexual’, the same behaviour will be labelled as ‘paedophilic’.
This means that children as young as 11 can be labeled paedophiles if those to whom they are attracted are significantly younger than themselves.
Closer to home: a poll conducted of members of the ‘Visions of Alice‘ forum found that of the 54 members who participated 33 (=61%) realised they were paedophiles between the ages of 10 and 17, one fifth of this sample knowing they were paedophiles before the age of 13.
All of which suggests that at least half of us realise we are paedophiles at 16 or under. This means tthat in most western countries they were still undergoing compulsory education.
Consequently it is likely that half of the ‘grade failures’ reported by Cantor’s sample of adult paedophile offenders took place when they already knew or suspected that they were paedophiles, and would be experiencing the concomitant stigma. Indeed some of them may have been experiencing stigma right from the onset of puberty, at the start of their secondary education.
sexual stigma & grade failure
There is probably no stigma more intense than that associated with paedophilia. Even if the individual manages to keep their paedophilia secret, ‘internalised stigma’ (see previous essay) will nevertheless ensure damaging effects.
Moreover the earlier an individual becomes aware of having paedophilic desires the more intense the stigma-damage they are likely to suffer. This is because:
– the individual is more likely to be experiencing desires towards younger children (an 11-year-old who realises they are chronophilic will do so out of a desire for babies, toddlers or young prepubescents; a 17-year-old discovering themselves to be chronophilic could be experiencing less stigmatised desires for older prepubescents or young adolescents.)
– the stigma will have longer to work on their identity and brains,
– the stigma will be working at a period of life when the brain, the personality, the social persona are in flux and highly vulnerable and malleable.
– the stigma will occur at a time when they are less well-equipped to resist stigma, peer pressure and peer influence.
The early adolescent years are characterized by heightened self- and peer regulation regarding especially sexuality norms. During adolescence, youth in general report stronger prejudicial attitudes and more frequent paedophobic behavior at younger ages. Young adolescents may be developmentally susceptible to social exclusion behavior and attitudes, whereas older youth are able to make more sophisticated evaluative judgments regarding human rights, fairness, and prejudice.
(‘Mental Health in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Youth‘)
These differences in exposure to stigma exacerbate its deleterious effects and will contribute to Cantor’s findings of decreased general functioning levels and poorer school records in proportion to the ‘youthfulness’ of each chronophilia.
I here reproduce some passages from my last essay (plus a couple I didn’t include because of word-count constraints). Their original subject was ‘LGB youth’. In the absence of research that focuses on paedophile youth I have taken the liberty of substituting the word ‘paedophile’ for ‘LGB’.
[Paedophile] youth were 1.25 to 3 times more likely than their [teleiophilic] peers to receive punishment from schools, police, or courts
“Concerns about their safety have consequences for the academic achievement of [paedophile] youth. Compared with other students, [paedophile] students were more likely to report low grades, to miss school because they felt unsafe, and to report less support from teachers and other adults.”
High school students who say they are [paedophile] are two to seven times more likely to attempt suicide.
[Paedophile] youth living in counties with fewer sexual orientation antibullying policies are twice as likely to report past-year suicide attempts than youth living in areas where these policies were more commonplace
[Paedophile]-inclusive curriculums introduce specific historical events, persons, and information about the [Paedophile] community into student learning and have been shown to improve students’ sense of safety and feelings of acceptance and to reduce victimization in schools.
“[Paedophile] adults often describe their adolescence as a time when they felt isolated, ashamed and afraid of being discovered that they were different – all of which can have an impact on self-esteem and identity formation.”
In addition to the possibility that some (most? all?) of the grade failures reported by the paedophile offenders was caused or aggravated by paedophilia-related stigma, Cantor’s grade failure study also contains serious reporting biases that will favour the recall and reporting of grade failures caused by paedophilia-related stigma.
Paedophilic Sex Offenders
“in the present investigation, we systematically recorded only whether patients failed any grade(s) or whether they were enrolled in special education classes. Recording which grade(s) the individuals failed or during which grade the individuals were diverted into a special education program could provide additional relevant information.”
The above quotation from Cantor’s ‘Grade Failure’ study makes it clear that when ascertaining rates of grade failure he:
– relied on self-reports,
– asked about the whole duration of compulsory education but did not record when the ‘grade failures’ occurred, nor distinguished between grade failures that occurred during primary and secondary education.
In Canada, where and when the members of Cantor’s sample would have attended school, the school-leaving age was 16. The average age for realising one is a paedophile is 16. This means that half of any population of paedophiles will have known or suspected that they were paedophiles before leaving compulsory education.
Grade failures that occurred later in one’s school career (and therefore more recently) will be better remembered than school failure that occurred early in one’s childhood. Most adults’ memory of their primary education is a vague blur. Not so their secondary education. This will lead to a proportional under-reporting of primary failure and over-reporting of secondary failure – this bias will apply to all four groups in this study, so should, in theory, cancel out.
But paedophilia-related stigma generally occurs after puberty, during secondary education.
Also primary schools have long striven to integrate children undergoing special educational measures within the mainstream. This is easier to do with the integrated curricula and whole-class teaching that takes place in primary schools than it is with the subject-based teaching in secondary school. SEN measures taken in primary school are designed not be noticeable (and are therefore less memorable) whereas those that take place in secondary school are more conspicuous and therefore more memorable.
The visibility and segregation associated with secondary ‘Grade Failure’ exposes the ‘failee’ to much more stigma. As does the fact that secondary age students are much more liable to enact social exclusion of stigmatised individuals.
This means that grade failures that occur during secondary schooling are more likely to be remembered and reported than grade failures in primary schooling. Consequently more grade failures that were caused by paedophile-related stigma (which have an almost 100% chance of occurring during secondary schooling) will be remembered and reported, whilst grade failures for other reasons (which have only a 40% chance of occurring during primary schooling) will tend to be under-reported.
Now compare this with the reporting biases associated with other groups Cantor used in this study and whose grade failures were also recorded:
These will have an ‘normal spread’ of grade failure across their school career – with no predictable stigma-related increase during secondary education.
Teleiophiic sexual offenders.
There is no indication in the ‘Grade Failure’ paper as to exactly what offenses this group committed. However the 2004 paper does specify the nature of its teleophilic offender sample:
“Of patients whose known victims were teenagers or adults, 53% had displayed coercive or sadistic sexual behavior. Offenses against teenagers and adults also included the various manifestations of courtship disorder: 24% displayed “hands-off” manifestations (voyeurism, exhibitionism, or obscene telephone calling), and 28% displayed “hands-on” manifestations (toucheurism, frotteurism, or other types of unwanted physical contact).”
Given that the rubric ‘Teleiophilic sexual offenders’ comprises such a disparate range of impulses and actions it is no simple task to elucidate possible biases associated with the reporting of this group’s ‘grade failure’, or the effect of stigma-damage on their school career.
The ‘sadist’ is not a stigmatised identity in the same way as is the ‘paedophile’, or for that matter, the ‘homosexual’.
I have often witnessed pupils labeled ‘gay’ or ‘a paedo’ for the slightest breaches of unspoken mores. A student has to provide serious evidence of being a sexual sadist before being so labelled. Such a child – unless he or she has actually been convicted or repeatedly accused – will be labelled as a ‘bully’ or ‘troubled’, and his deeds as ‘harassment’, ‘youthful misjudgment’ or the results of raging hormones.
As to ‘Courtship disorders’ and ‘hands-off manifestations’ – in teenagers they are the stuff of bawdy comedy, not of nightmare. A student who exposes him or herself to a peer, or who gropes them, may be subject to rejection and censure, but their act may also be seen as amusing, daring or as a sign of being an alpha male or female. It might also be welcome by its recipient.
Moreover none of these disorders and manifestations are connected to strongly defined identities – compare ‘paedo’ or ‘faggot’ to ‘toucheur’, ‘frotteur’ or even ‘voyeur’. How many secondary school children would be able to say what a ‘frotteur’ is? And aren’t all these acts what everybody would deep-down like to do? Who wouldn’t like to indulge in some illicit voyeurism, toucherism or frotteurism with someone they find sexually attractive?
As such, I think these disorders, though problematic, tend to be assimilated into the mainstream of sexual behaviour in the secondary school context – they are considered as ‘normal misbehaviour’.
This means that these impulses if not acted out and if kept secret will not generate in the individual anything like the same internalised stigma as experienced by a student coming to terms with paedophilic (or homosexual) desires. There is not a constant barrage of hate and misinformation in the media and popular culture against voyeurs, frotteurs &c.
So, excepting young persons who have actually committed sadistic sexual acts during their schooling, or who have a history of borderline sadistic sexual behaviour, I suspect that most of the behaviours in the ‘Teleiophilic Sexual Offender’ category are sufficiently within the gravitational pull of normality to avoid stigmatisation or internalised stigmatisation.
Hebephilic sexual offenders.
Seto and Blanchard give the ages of attraction of hebephiles as 11 – 14. I one accepts that a criterion for becoming aware of a chronophilia is that the desirer’s age must have pulled away from the age of the desired by a significant margin then the span of secondary schooling provides a very narrow window during which an individual can become aware of having consistently hebephilic desires. Moreover the stigma associated with hebephilia is significantly milder than that associated with paedophila, especially if the desiree is only a few years younger than the desirer. All of which means that hebephiles are likely to have experienced less stigma and milder stigma-related disruption than paedophiles, but more than teleiophiles.
in part 2
Part 2 starts with a summary of part 1; I then explore how Cantor’s general research into paedophilia provides an example of Berkson’s Paradox or Bias; I consider a paper recently published by Cantor in which he, for the first time, applies the concept of Stigma to paedophiles; I look at a piece of research fresh off the press that confirms some important key-stones of my critique of Cantor, and finally reproduce a very telling letter sent to James Cantor by his research supervisor.