In an early 2018 TEDx talk, Madeleine van der Bruggen tries to get audience members to think about pedophilia in a different manner: by relaying how high the chances are of an individual actually knowing a closeted pedophile. Bruggen’s method of dealing with pedophiles includes fighting with words and “understanding.”
A psychologist and criminologist who works for the Dutch National Police, Bruggen continuously reminds the crowd of 200 that statistically, somebody in the crowd has or has acted on pedophilic thoughts. Instead of treating the idea of a pedophile with extreme prejudice, as the rest of society would, Bruggen pushes forth an agenda intended to sympathize and even understand pedophiles.
Bruggen said, “0.5 to 3 percent of our male population has some form of pedophilic interest…let’s say there are eighty males in the crowd right now; statistics indicate that there will be one or two of you struggling with pedophilic interest.”
Pedophilia has become a running issue in the contemporary world’s discussion as more knowledge of the disgusting actions happening on the dark web manage to find their ways to media outlets and as pedophiles are now actively pushing to be recognized as part of the LGTBQ+ movement.
Many advocates use the same reasoning as Bruggen: it’s a personal issue that can’t be helped. These advocates also look to the past for answers, reminding the world that at one time, being openly gay led to violence being incited and even led to the social outing in extreme cases. Pedophiles today fall under the same situations and even see this as a sign of acceptance in the future.
However, the age of consent stands solid in this debate. The idea behind an age of consent revolves around a child not being able to take proper care of themselves, thus making it illegal for children to consent to having any sort of sexual intercourse. Children of or around this age aren’t considered as able to make decisions that are well-planned and well thought through.
While Bruggen’s attempt may come off as a sympathizer’s efforts, her take on combating the mental issues can be effective. Social stigmas, however, stunt this solution and make it nearly an impossible route for modern offenders.