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Last Updated: Friday, 1 June 2007, 20:31 GMT 21:31 UK
Paedophile plans: A personal story
Child pornography website
Britain's child protection chief, Jim Gamble, has come under fire for suggesting that not all child sex offenders should be sent to prison.

Michael - not his real name - contacted the BBC website to respond to Mr Gamble's critics.

I first became aware that I had a problem when I was about 14 years old. I had been in a boarding school where it was the norm for all the boys to have girlfriends.

I tried to get one by asking out girls in the first year I joined. They all said no. So I tried again a year later with girls from the new intake and they all said no again.

Bad thoughts

I had lived a socially secluded life and I hadn't developed any skills to be able to communicate with others my age.

It was after my failed attempts at getting a girlfriend my age that I started to focus more on younger girls.

Young girl

I knew straight away that the thoughts I had were wrong and I never acted upon them at the time.

There was one incident when I was older where I touched a girl inappropriately at a swimming pool. It has never happened again.

Coping

I told my parents what had happened and they just told me to keep quiet about it. A church I used to go to then sent me to a medical mission in London where I got to see a psychologist.

It was during those sessions that I learned what turned out to be the most effective strategy I could adopt - accepting that girls could be pretty without being sexy.

Seeing a psychologist can make such a difference

I had never thought of separating the two before and it was a huge release.

I think Jim Gamble has made a very important point - but it depends so much on the person in question wanting to change. If they don't, then I think there is no hope for them.

But if they are like me, then getting treatment and seeing a psychologist can make such a difference to their lives.

Like alcoholism

You can never be "cured" of having bad thoughts, but I can at least make sure that I never put myself in a compromising or dangerous situation.

I learnt that I'm not a paedophile, but someone who has paedophile tendencies - and these can be controlled.

I think it is very similar to alcoholism - you never stop being an alcoholic, but you can make sure you never have a drink again.

Going into prison would have not benefitted me in anyway and whenever I came out, I would have still had the same problems.

At least through getting treatment, I have managed to keep myself - and other children - safe.





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