Media coverage of pedophilia: benefits and risks from healthcare practitioners’ point of view

Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine, Charité
Stelzmann, Daniela;
Department of Psychology, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Jahnke, Sara;
Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine, Charité
Kuhle, Laura F.

The fierce stigma associated with pedophilia may interfere with attempts to prevent sexual offending. Prior research on the effects of media reports about pedophilia mostly focused on their role in perpetuating stigma in the general population. In order to better understand potential benefits and risks of the media coverage on people with pedophilia and specialized prevention and treatment efforts, we conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with 11 healthcare practitioners of the German Prevention Network “Don’t offend”. Healthcare practitioners described positive (e.g., raising awareness for prevention offers) as well as negative (e.g., perpetuating the existing public stigma) effects of the media coverage and estimated that only about one-third of media coverage portrays pedophilia realistically. To destigmatize pedophilia and benefit the prevention of child sexual abuse, a fact box for journalists was developed based on practitioners’ expert knowledge.


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