Are you concerned about your sexual interest in children?

Child Protection and Finnish Hotline has implemented a self-care programme for persons with sexual interest in children in cooperation with the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa and the Training Institute for Prison and Probation Services. The programme can be found on the MentalHub website. Access the self-care programme here. Access help and support services here.

Did you know that sexual interest in children does not automatically lead to any sexual acts? Persons whose sexual interests are only directed to children are fairly rare. It is possible to find a way to express your sexuality in a manner that is not harmful and does not hurt you or others.  

Sexual interest and sexual acts are two separate things. The self-care programme will assist you in finding ways to live with your interest responsibly, without harming any children. You can learn to control the sexual images and thoughts about children so that they never have to develop into actions. People who are sexually attracted to children often have other sexual interests as well. By boosting your self-regulation, you can adjust your own sexuality to a responsible direction. The different exercises in the programme support responsible behaviour and a responsible lifestyle.  

The programme is based on cognitive behavioural therapy, and it utilises the Uusi Suunta (“New Direction”) treatment programme developed by the Training Institute for Prison and Probation Services. The self-care programme is also based on Save the Children Finland’s earlier self-help materials, developed by psychologist Jenni Häikiö.  

Sexual acts and legislation 

You are quite free to express your sexuality, as long as you do not violate another person’s rights or break the law. However, there are some acts that do not fall within the scope of freedom of sexual expression. These include the solicitation of children for sexual purposes (grooming), sexual acts against children and other sexual acts that constitute a criminal offence. In addition, child sexual abuse materials on the internet are prohibited by Finnish law – the production, publication and possession of such materials are all punishable offences.  

Sexual acts against minors are not covered by the freedom of sexual expression, as they are considered child sexual abuse. In such cases, the decision to act in accordance with your own interests and preferences cannot be based on your own wishes.  

Sexual interest in children, paedophilia and hebephilia  

The terms paedophilia and hebephilia are commonly used to describe sexual interest in children. Persons exhibiting such interest are colloquially referred to as paedophiles. The term “lapsikohteinen seksuaalisuus” (sexuality focused on children) is also used in Finnish.  

Many people who are sexually attracted to children never translate their preferences into acts against children. On the other hand, not all persons guilty of child sexual abuse experience sexual interest in children.   

You are welcome to familiarise yourself with our self-care programme even if your thoughts have never led to any concrete action. The programme can help, even if you have never thought about performing any harmful or illegal sexual acts to anyone. You can go through the entire self-care programme or choose the exercises that suit you best, depending on what you find useful.  

The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Save the Children Finland and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union.

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