Virtuous Pedophiles (or "Virped") is a Internet-based mutual support group for pedophiles who acknowledge having a sexual interest in children and do not act on their desires. Members support each other in trying to lead normal lives without acting on their desires. Members share the belief that sexual activity between adults and children is wrong and always will be. They also work against the stigma attached to pedophiles. The two founders of the group use the pseudonyms Ethan Edwards and Nick Devin. They do not reveal their true identity because they have to fear ostracism and hatred against their stigmatized sexual preference. There are over 700 members registered, including parents of children, parents of pedophiles, a few sex researchers and many pedophiles of both genders. This group has also been endorsed by James Cantor.
Some of the terminology Virtuous Pedophiles' uses include the terms, pro-contact and anti-contact to describe the diverse range of social and political positions individuals and groups hold within the minor attracted community. This has been criticized as being limited and non-representational. Another criticism of the group is that Virtuous Pedophiles' doesn't allow alternative points of view to be discussed, even from within their own membership and supporters, that don't correspond to the views of their leaders and that members have been unjustly accused of being pro-contact for voicing their opinions.
Virtuous Pedophiles is a forum which takes a firm stand against child sexual exploitation of any kind, including viewing child pornography. There are a number of pedophile organizations in the world, but most of them are either unclear about their attitude towards sex with children or campaign to lower age-of-consent laws and to legalize sexual acts with children or child pornography. Virtuous Pedophiles instead accepts these laws and aims to help pedophiles "lead productive, happy, law-abiding lives". Websites with a similar approach are the German website Schicksal und Herausforderung (German for Fate and Challenge) and the Czech forum ČEPEK.
"Nick," one of the founders of Virtual Pedophiles, had this to say about the group:
The group is dedicated to helping pedophiles lead happy, productive, law-abiding lives. We don't believe that pedophiles should be ashamed of their sexual feelings, or feel guilty as a result of having them. But we also don't believe that adults should have sex with children, and we don't advocate for changes in age of consent laws. More than 1,500 people have signed up for our support group. If you're interested, I'd suggest you check out our web site.
Your views on contact will really determine whether you would be comfortable in our group. We describe the different categories as follows:
1. hands-on offenders: people who actually have sexual contact with kids.
2. would like to but don't: people who think it's OK to have sexual contact with kids today, but don't -- maybe no opportunities, can't find a kid they fancy or vice versa, don't think that the opportunities they find can be kept secret, etc.
3. pro-legalization: Against adult-child sex today, until/unless laws and attitudes changed -- but very much in favor of changing those laws. Typically it is expressed with anger at society -- it's a big deal to them emotionally.
4. humble/laid back: Leaves it up to society to figure out appropriate ages of consent, realizing that they have a selfish interest in lower ones, and maybe it actually does cloud their thinking, so they set that aside. Of course we all have our opinions and intuitions. To the extent they are for lower AoCs, they recognize that it's not helpful for them to advertise them publicly, and it's not helpful to dwell on them privately with anger or even intense focus.
5. anti-contact: Thinking that changing laws and attitudes is not going to make adult-child sex OK.In terms of how I feel about the people in the various categories, I think the people in categories 1 and 2 are misguided. I wouldn't describe them as sociopaths unless they used force. I think the people in category 3, which from my observation includes many of the frequent posters here, are behaving virtuously, though they would not be at home in our group. Our group consists of people in categories 4 and 5.
There were quite a few negative responses to his post on BoyChat, many of them highly critical of his "categorizations".
The group's efforts have been supported for their potential benefits by several human sexuality experts, such as Jesse Bering and James Cantor. Cantor believes such groups can help prevent child sexual abuse. "It is hard to imagine someone who would feel more isolated than someone who recognizes he is sexually interested in children. In my experience, it is in those phases of greatest desperation that a pedophile is most likely to do something desperate, risking harm to a child," Cantor said. "Mutual support among people who share the same daily battle with their own desires can go a long way in addressing the extreme isolation, serving as a potential pressure valve, adding layer of protection, helping pedophiles to keep their behaviors under control."
The group was acknowledged in a New York Times editorial about the distinction between pedophilia and child sexual abuse by law professor Margo Kaplan. Kaplan wrote, "It is not that these individuals are 'inactive' or 'nonpracticing' pedophiles, but rather that pedophilia is a status and not an act." In November 2014, a well publicized Channel 4 programme on pedophilia included an interview with someone who admitted to having pedophilic urges but had not acted upon them.
- Clarke-Flory, Tracy. "Meet pedophiles who mean well: The men behind VirtuousPedophiles.com are attracted to children but devoted to denying their desires", 30 June 2012.
- Noise, Denise. "Treating Pedophiles: Reasons for Cautious Optimism", 31 December 2012.
- Kaplan, Margo. "Pedophilia: A Disorder, Not a Crime", New York Times, 5 October 2014. Retrieved on 6 March 2015.
- Welcome. Virtuous Pedophiles. Retrieved on 6 March 2015.
- Is pedophilia a sexual orientation?
- Zarembo, Alan. "Many researchers taking a different view of pedophilia", 14 January 2013.
- Savage, Dan. Savage Love Podcast (episode 321) Starts at 21:30. Retrieved on 27 April 2014.
- Bussel, Rachel Kramer. "Can Pedophiles Help Themselves? A Book’s Provocative Take on Sexuality", The Daily Beast, 18 October 2013. Retrieved on 6 March 2015.
- Agency. "'Virtuous paedophile' outs himself on camera", The Telegraph, 25 November 2014.
- Solon, Olivia. "Should we be doing more to rehabilitate paedophiles?", Mirror, 25 November 2014.
- Virtuous Pedophiles (Wikipedia)
- Virped's page with info for pedophiles
- Is pedophilia a sexual orientation?
- Ethan Edwards' Personal Blog "Celibate Pedophiles"