Diocese of Chichester Safeguarding

I am worried about my own thoughts and behaviour towards children.

You may be aware that you have sexual thoughts, feelings, fantasies or desires that involve children. You may find this extremely disturbing and feel very guilty, but you may also recognise that at times you indulge in these fantasies and spend time thinking about what it would be like to abuse a child. You may be scared of what you might do, or you may already be aware that you have come close to committing an offence against a child or children. Additionally, you may have spent time on the internet looking at indecent images of children.

If this describes you, then this page gives you some clear, straightforward guidance on what you should do.

Firstly, if you have looked at indecent images or videos of children online, you need to know that you are committing a criminal offence. The images you are looking at are crime scenes - each one is an image of a child who is being abused. It is imperative that you stop and get help - please see below regarding an organisation that can assist with this.

Secondly, if you are involved in any way in working or volunteering with children, you are in the wrong line of work. Please do not convince yourself that your self-control or moral compass will certainly prevent you from ever carrying out in real life your fantasies or desires. If you are fantasising about abusing children, you may have persuaded yourself that these fantasies are sufficient to satisfy your interest and that you will never act on them. In fact, research shows that fantasy acts as rehearsal - you are practising in your head what you may, one day, carry out. If you have your own children, grandchildren, nephews or nieces or any other children with whom you have close contact in your day-to-day life, then it is all the more imperative that you get help before acting on your thoughts and abusing them.

Thirdly, you should get help as soon as possible. However bad the consequences of seeking help might appear, they will be as nothing to the consequences of not getting help and acting on your desires. If you offend against a child you will scar that child for life, and when caught you will almost certainly lose everything in your life that you currently value - family, job, friends, reputation. It is probable that you will be sent to prison and be released to lengthy supervision in the community by the National Probation Service, who can return you to prison should you fail to adhere to the strict requirements of your release licence.

Fourthly, if you are reading this page on this site there is a likelihood you are a Christian. If that is the case, please consider the following points. Praying about this is not enough. Temptation and sin thrive in secrecy, and many Christians have found that praying about sexual temptation is simply another way of making sure no-one knows what is going on. Accountability to another person is essential, and you will need to speak to someone about this. Relying purely on the Holy Spirit and on being a 'new creation' is not enough. The New Testament gives no indication whatsoever that the Christian life will be easy, and makes clear that holiness requires significant, concerted effort. In your case, as in many similar situations where people are struggling with temptation, that effort must involve speaking to someone who can help. Finally, keeping this 'within the church' is not enough. You may have spoken to someone in church about this already, but you will need expert help - just as you would do with any medical condition, or with an addiction, or with financial difficulties. Pastoral care from your church is very valuable but please do not use this as a substitute for getting specialist help.

If you know that this page describes you, please decide now to take action. We recommend that you contact the Stop It Now! helpline, the details of which can be found by clicking the link below. This helpline is confidential, and run by experts in this field. There is also a 'get help' section of the Stop It Now! website which can guide you towards resources you can use in your own time.