Why They Do It?

– By Mitzi Perdue

Have you ever wondered what makes an adult choose to have sex with a child?

From what dark place does that person come? He wants it so badly that he risks getting in trouble with the law; he’s willing to pay the trafficker, and he’s going against some of the strongest social norms in the world.

To take this further, if he gets caught and jailed, he’ll probably end up in solitary or maybe even dead. Hardened criminals and drug dealers despise pedophiles.

So again, what makes someone choose to have sex with an underage person?

This is a question we’ll return to again in future newsletters, but we’ll start with an expert on the subject, Dr. Robert Cancro, Research Professor of Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Both as a scientist and as a clinician, Dr. Cancro has spent a lifetime examining this topic.

Very best to all of you,

Interview with Dr. Robert Cancro

Editor: For most of us, the thought of sex with a child is close to incomprehensible. Can you shed some light on this?

Cancro: You might imagine that the person is wildly over-sexed, but in fact, sex has very little to do with it. As with rape, the motivation is only barely sexual. What it’s really about is power and dominance.

Editor: Why don’t they go for adults at least. Why children?

Cancro: Part of it is because when the children are very young, the pedophile sees them as inexperienced and naïve, and that enhances the pedophile’s feeling of dominance. I’ve had patients who were attracted to little girls, thinking the young girls were naïve. Of course, that idea is wrong; these trafficked kids know more about sex than the guys do. The one part that is about sex rather than power is, the little girl’s vagina will be tighter.

Editor: Talk more about the mindset of a pedophile.

Cancro: A pedophile doesn’t look at his victim as someone with value as a person. No, he views his victim with contempt, and it doesn’t matter to him that he’s degrading or hurting his victim. Typically, pedophiles look at their victims in ways comparable to how they might look at cattle. Pedophiles represent a cultural failure. They didn’t learn that the young people they’re having sex with have value as a person.

Editor: If the pedophile is so into dominance, wouldn’t the children be in danger of being beaten up by a pedophile?

Cancro: Pimps do everything to prevent that. The girl is his source of income. It’s to his interest to protect her from dangerous clients. Typically the trafficking will occur in a place where a couple of guys will be nearby, on call to protect the girls.

Editor: What’s the girl feeling during all of this?

Cancro: What she’s up against while she’s being trafficked is different from depression. When I see patients in my office who have depression, I know that their illness has a beginning, a middle, and an end. In the case of a trafficked girl, typically the miserable unhappiness is nonstop. Continuous. There is no love in her life. She’s objectified and no one cares about her except as a unit of production.

About The Author

Mitzi Perdue is a businesswoman, author, and Founder of Win This Fight, Stop Human Trafficking Now. She holds a B.A. degree with honors from Harvard University and a Master's from George Washington University. She's a past president of the 40,000 member American Agri-Women, and she was a U.S. Delegate to the United Nations Conference on Women in Nairobi. She was also a Commissioner for the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science. Her Scripps Howard column, The Environment and You, was for years the most widely syndicated environmental column in the U.S.

She is the founder and president of “Win This Fight! Stop Human Trafficking Now,” an organization that raises funds and awareness for other anti-trafficking initiatives.