Pedophilia: Disorder, Not Crime" by Margot Kaplan

“Pedophilia: A Disorder, Not a Crime” is an article written by Margo Kaplan and published in the New York Times. The author of this article chose to use this platform to garner attention on the “psychiatric disorder” in which an adult or older adolescent experiences sexual feelings toward prepubescent children. As the title suggests, she thinks that pedophilia is a mental disorder. I abhorrently disagree with the ideas proposed in this article. Not only in the case of pedophiles but in the case of a multitude of other heinous criminals, I believe mental health has been used as a “get out of jail free card”; an easily professed claim that is supposed to divest the crime of its odiousness.

The ideas suggested in this article would effectively allow any crime to be equated to mental disease.

Over the years, as the awareness of mental health disorders grows, it has become very common practice to describe individuals who commit extremely violent or extremely egregious acts as “crazy” or “sick”.

I believe that this is no more than the undeviating result of the psychiatric community redefining, for our society, what is moral. The author attempts to separate pedophilia from the crime and indicates that since these urges are not under the person’s control, it is not a choice. Would the same not apply to a serial killer? If a person has an undeniable urge to kill, that they can only accredit to the serotonin and dopamine that are released in their brains, should they be considered sick and amass our sympathies? There have been acts that were long considered evil and immoral, and for years and years, the psychiatric community has been taking these things and deeming them yet another psychological disorder that needs desperately to be cured.

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This is disastrous for our culture, but good for business I suppose.

I find this thinking to be devastating and counterproductive to justice. If it can just be decided what is criminal and what is a disorder based on what is more convenient, we are soon headed to a world where instead of placing responsibility on a lack of morality, it is being placed on a lack of therapy. Instead of the power of sentencing being placed in the hands of jurists, they are given to doctors. This may sound far-fetched but one could make a strong argument that we are already witnessing just that. For example, up until only five years ago, the DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) removed “gender identity disorder”. It was removed because medical experts simply no longer saw it as something that required “fixing”. This is a quintessential illustration in which people’s medical expertise is used as the primary factor in what is normal, moral, or just plain wrong. Often, medical experts know little of justice and yet they are ever-growing the ones whose opinion takes precedent on matters like these.

In this article, there was an obvious attempt to paint pedophiles as victims. The author consistently refers to their “suffering” and tries to evoke a sense of guilt in any reader who may view people that are attracted to children as evil.

“Many feel isolated; some contemplate suicide”, says Kaplan in her article.

The inclusion of this statement was a portion of her efforts to snatch sympathies from the reader and give them to pedophiles. It is also worth remarking that she never makes a comment on the people who are preyed upon by pedophiles or the terror that those people are forced to live on with. This only further proves my point.

Internally, I extend Kaplan’s ideas to all crimes where someone can claim to be crazy or a psycho or anything of that nature and get off scot-free. It is a slippery slope and before our very eyes, society is being told that wrong isn’t wrong if you can’t help it. Mass murders, pedophiles, rapists, and any other act of crime similar to these are and should be considered of the evilest and wicked kind. Deeming them as a sufferer of an unjust system is unfair to the real victims.

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Pedophilia: Disorder, Not Crime" by Margot Kaplan. (2022, May 13). Retrieved from

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