…So begins a public media campaign in Germany by the Dunkelfeld Prevention Project. it’s simple message to pedophiles is ‘don’t offend’.

Dunkelfeld in German means ‘dark field’ as opposed to Hellfeld or ‘light field’. The significance is that the sexual offenders in the light field are known to the authorities, while those in the dark field are still unknown. The Dunkelfeld Prevention Project has been operating since 2005 and offers individuals with sexual feelings towards pre-pubescent and pubescent children – including those who have offended – confidential help and treatment. Backed by a national media campaign, The Project has become a critical component in strategies keep children safe in Germany. Pedophilia is the term for those with sexual feelings towards pre-pubescent children and hebephilia, sexual attraction towards pubescent children.

Pedophiles are the most hated of sex offenders by far. Attention is generally focused on the victims of abuse but there is every reason for public authorities to give attention to abusers and seek out ways to reduce the numbers and the potential for offending.

The Reward Foundation learned about the Dunkelfeld Project from its founder Professor Klaus Beier, when he spoke at a recent NOTA Scotland conference. Dunkelfeld run high profile media campaigns like this television advertisement (subtitled in English) to help men avoid becoming child sex offenders.

Professor Beier says that he believes around 1% of the male population are naturally pedophilic, by orientation. This is a somewhat controversial statement in itself. He was unwilling to discuss the issue of escalation to use of extreme material in men who have developed an addiction to pornography but who are not pedophilic by nature. This is an area of concern for criminality, health and education that the Reward Foundation believes will continue to rise in years to come due to the largely unregulated nature of internet pornography.

Should a sex therapist dealing with a potential offender report them to the police? Those treating sex offenders are required by law to report their clients if there is a risk that they may offend. This means that a man who worries that he has unhealthy sexual thoughts about pubescent or pre-pubescent children may avoid seeking treatment. Fortunately the anti-child abuse charities Stop It Now!  in Scotland and the Lucy Faithfull Foundation  in England can offer anonymous help to men and boys in this situation without fearing they will be reported to the Police.