Most paedophiles don't seek help

SINGAPORE - The paedophile, in his 40s, thought he could control himself.

But he was wrong.

Psychiatrist Tommy Tan encountered this case about a decade ago while he was working at the Institute of Mental Health.

The man, who was sexually aroused by boys, had been arrested for having sex with some young boys. After he was caught, the police referred him to DrTan to assess his mental state.

For his offences, the man was jailed for a few years.

In prison, he had a tough time.

Said Dr Tan, who is now practising in Novena Psychiatry Clinic: "Paedophiles are detested even in jail, where everyone has committed a crime before."

When the man was released, he did not return to seek treatment.

"I asked him to see me again if he needed help. It was a pity he didn't," said Dr Tan.

Arrested again

A few years later, the man was again arrested for having sex with another boy, who was in his early teens.

Before he was charged, he voluntarily went to see Dr Tan. This time, it was for depression, as the man knew that he was going to be jailed for a longer time.

"He told me he thought he could control himself. But he was wrong," said Dr Tan.

Before he was sentenced, the man took his own life.

'Almost never seek treatment'

Said Dr Tan: "The fact is that paedophiles almost never seek treatment because there's nothing causing apparent stress to them until they break the law."

But paedophiles need professional help. Always.

Said Dr Tan: "They all think they can control themselves. But the chances of them re-offending are very real.

"If they seek help, there is at least a chance that they can recover and not offend again."

Novena Medical Center's psychiatrist Munidasa Winslow said that in the last three years, only three people have approached him to seek his help for their paedophilic tendencies.

One of them, a married man in his 30s, confessed to the police that he had committed an offence.

He voluntarily went to see Dr Winslow as a private patient.

Said Dr Winslow: "He felt guilty and ashamed towards his wife. What he did was also at odds with his Christian faith."

While out on bail, the man attended six months of psychotherapy with Dr Winslow to understand his tendencies, and how to control them.

He was eventually jailed and is still serving his sentence.

Said Dr Winslow: "He said it wasn't enough to go to jail. He wanted to make sure that what happened wouldn't occur again.

"I hope he learnt his lesson."

This article was first published in The New Paper.