The phenomenon of pedophilia in human society in general and in the Western world in particular is a perversion that arouses deep disgust and revulsion. Beyond being a criminal offense in all its forms, the attempt to fight pedophilia and to wage war against it becomes much more challenging in an era in which the digital means and their accessibility among children and youth are becoming more and more common.
The psycho-medical definition of pedophilia is a psychological, social, and moral phenomenon that is expressed in the disorder of sexual arousal among adults (mainly men) and by an unusual and sometimes uncontrollable sex drive towards children or young adolescents up to the age of 13.
Unfortunately, the digital age, including the Internet, social networks, and smartphones, gives people with this disorder easier access, which does not require physical surveillance of the victim. In fact, a conversation or correspondence through one of the digital platforms is sufficient to lead to physical or mental harm, the consequences of which could be unbearable.
The average age, if you have wondered, of those harmed by pedophilia, ranging from physical injury to distribution and exposure of various obscene materials, is between 10 and 14 years old, but this average has also been declining steadily in recent years, as many children use smartphones at very young ages and as a result are unwittingly exposed to those criminals who find them “easy prey” for carrying out their scheme.
Moreover, the modern era, including the Internet and messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, chats, blogs, and more, create for pedophiles a fertile ground for performing pedophiliac actions and activities, such as distributing intimate pictures and videos, undressing and committing indecent acts before a live camera, and through to making telephone contact and then physical contact with the victims. All these and others lead to severe consequences that affect individuals and those around them, such as mental distress, undermining their trust in relationships and in the proper social order, and in extreme cases even suicides.
According to estimates, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of Internet sites, WhatsApp groups, blogs and forums that contain pedophiliac content. The Israeli police and law enforcement are working day and night to deal with the phenomenon, along with growing social awareness of pedophilia in the media and social networks, in order to reduce and prevent the phenomenon even before it occurs. But these do not come as a substitute for parental circumventive actions designed to prevent such cases of pedophilia from occurring in the future.
How should we deal with this phenomenon? First, as parents and adults, we have to stay with the “hand on the pulse” and to show presence in the lives of those who are dear to us and who are exposed to negative influences as a result of the use of smartphones and the Internet. Express caring for your loved ones and be attentive to their feelings, be aware of any unusual behavior, and despite the apparent violation of their privacy, do not hesitate to follow their activities using the various media available to them, in order to investigate the harmful or negative factors that may put them in danger. This is not a simple action, but it is necessary in view of the various threats and challenges facing us in today’s digital reality.