Letters Child sex offenders

Armchair philosophising skirts what to do with child sex offenders

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d7370 (Published 15 November 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7370
  1. Peter J Mahaffey, consultant surgeon1
  1. 1Bedford Hospital, Bedford, UK
  1. peter.mahaffey{at}bedfordhospital.nhs.uk

Delamothe stimulates discussion on what is perhaps society’s most pernicious evil.1 But, while seeming to ask for consideration for paedophiles and to be critical of expressions of revulsion among ordinary citizens, he doesn’t come up with any answers. This is an unreasonable luxury and seems to fly in the face of mounting pressures for more attention to be given to victims rather than perpetrators of crime. Doctors may have a duty to lead society in more civilised directions, but they also have a duty as its servant to recognise the feelings of the public.

Just as with alcohol abuse, the British public seems unwilling to confront paedophilia with the energy the problem deserves. Indeed, there can be a shocking, sniggering fascination for the crime, often in the form of tasteless jokes, among all classes. This suggests that Delamothe’s vituperative old lady or the prisoners who assault child abusers may merely be looking into a cultural mirror and being revulsed by what they see.

In fact, Delamothe touches on the solution. He states: “if anti-libidinal drugs are taken, rates of re-offending are very low.” It wouldn’t be difficult to arrange that serious offenders received full life imprisonment unless willing to accept long term hormonal implants or even to elect for surgical solutions. Delamothe would do the victims of the crime, and paedophiles, a better service by debating why society doesn’t have the courage or the will to adopt the evidence he reminds us of.


Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7370


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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