My "Friend," the Pedophile

Any parent’s worst nightmare, and it hit us like a ton of bricks: someone in our circle of acquaintances admitted to having child pornography on his computers, both at work and at home. We met him and his husband several years ago when they moved to town from another part of Sweden. For a couple of years, we spent some time together, couple’s dinners, boating, we even spent a weekend at their favorite beach in Southern Sweden. Alex and I thought we got along famously, but after that weekend at the beach, something happened and we drifted apart. Seems our preference for a Hilton over a camping site was a decisive factor in their decision to stop seeing us. We were just too different, one of them told me just a couple of months ago.

Now this. As a gay man it’s very disturbing that a gay man turns out to be a pedophile, given some people’s never-ending need to link the two. As a father, it’s troubling to be confronted with images of a pedophile sitting at the same table where I have breakfast and dinner with my husband and son every day. Yes, years have gone between the two, but my artsy novelist brain isn’t capable of making that distinction between the two timelines. And, being the victim of a pedophile myself, this whole affair also brings back memories of a completely different kind, and I can’t avoid to start to think about all the vile things you read from various hate groups out there who keep claiming and preaching that being gay, if not a choice, is the result of sexual abuse as a child, and that all gay men are essentially pedophiles.

For about 0.0034 seconds, my brain considered the possibility. But no, my assailant was an elderly woman in whose care I had been placed to learn the piano, and I have absolutely zero tendencies toward children, the mere thought is about the biggest turn-off imaginable.

Which brings me back to my friend, or former friend really, as I haven’t spoken to him for several years. I would’ve never guessed that he was into kids. Our son wasn’t born yet, but we had foreign exchange students living with us at the time. It really makes you think about how to protect your own children, what we can do to keep them safe.

Well, I have no definitive answers for you, but I for one, and I know that my husband feels the same, we’re going to be very careful in whose care we place our son from now on. This really was a wake-up call. I’m not a hateful or revengeful person and I’m a very trusting guy, but events like these show that when it comes to your kids, it is better to be safe than sorry.

So here are a few tips of what you can do to help keep your kids safe:


  • If you employ a baby sitter, make sure, that he or she comes from a reputable agency. We are using the 14-year-old daughter of our friends and neighbors, but if we’re ever using someone from outside our family circle again, we’re going to make sure to be safe, because I for one don’t want to start to install security cameras around the house.
  • Keep those baby pictures safe. With smart phones it’s so easy to take an adorable shot of your son or daughter taking a bath, and two clicks later, to share it with your family or friends on Facebook or Instagram. I’d advise against doing this. Because you never know how those pictures are going to be used. We have plenty such shots, and I once sent a bathtub shot to our son’s godfather. I managed to stop him last second to post that shot on Facebook. He had absolutely no malicious intent. He was simply proud, but he obviously couldn't vouch for his several hundred friends…
  • Don’t leave your child out of your sight. I know this is a no brainer, but you’d be amazed just how quickly a child can disappear, particularly a child brought up in a safe and loving environment. Our son is so self-secure that he crawls away from us, a couple hundred yards without worrying or looking back for us. The other day I discovered that he can open doors at the tender age of 13 months. Needless to say, our front door is now locked even during the day, not to keep people out, but to make sure he doesn’t crawl out on adventures.
  • In Sweden, in order to work in preschools or daycare you must provide the employer with your criminal record. Convicted pedophiles aren’t allowed to work near children. But what if your record is clean? My friend has had a spotless record to this day… No matter what your country’s legal requirements are, talk about these things with the principal. Learn how they address those issues.
  • I’m sure there are many more things I could put on this list, but in the end, we have to make sure not to lock our kids up in their rooms, just to keep them out of harms way. To be overprotective is not the answer, neither is it conducive to be paranoid. Just use good judgement and common sense in your relationships with people who need to be near your kids.
  • I thought long and hard about even writing this post. I don’t want to scare people, and I know it is a very touchy and sensitive topic. I’ve come to the conclusion that we best deal with these issues out in broad daylight, addressing them head on. It’s not easy, but I think it is the only way.

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