Media Coverage of Pedophilia and Its Impact on Help-Seeking Persons with Pedophilia in Germany—A Focus Group Study
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022, 19 (15), 9356. 10.3390/ijerph19159356
The public stigma associated with pedophilia, the sexual attraction to prepubescent children, is tremendous. Previous research indicates that undifferentiated media coverage plays an essential role in perpetuating the public stigma by falsely equating pedophilia and child sexual abuse (CSA) and thus may stop persons suffering from a pedophilic disorder from seeking professional help. Until now, a comprehensive examination of positive as well as negative media effects on affected individuals is missing. Therefore, the present study explores if and how media coverage impacts the lives of help-seeking persons with pedophilia by conducting four qualitative focus group discussions with a clinical sample (N = 20) from the German Prevention Network “Kein Täter werden”. Present results demonstrate that media coverage of pedophilia was perceived as mostly undifferentiated, even though participants observed an increase in fact-based reporting over the years. Moreover, it seems that media coverage has strong emotional and behavioral consequences for patients (e.g., negative reporting reduced self-esteem). In sum, our results highlight that differentiated media coverage could play a key role in supporting help-seeking persons with pedophilic disorder, while the impact of undifferentiated media coverage appears to be mostly negative. Therefore, our results point to the need to reframe pedophilia using differentiated media coverage to help affected persons receive treatment efficiently and thereby prevent CSA.