Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden are seeking men who have pedophile-like impulses to take part in a medical trial that aims to prevent them from molesting children.
Lead researcher Christoffer Rahm said at an April 6 press conference in London that the medical trial is not seeking convicted child molesters, but rather men who have sought help in controlling their impulses from a Swedish helpline operated by the Karolinska University Hospital, Science Magazine reports.
"Up until now, most of the attention has been on how to deal with perpetrators while they’re protected by the police or by the authorities, but by this stage, children have already been harmed," Rahm said, according to RT.com. "With this research project, I want to shift focus and explore methods of preventing child sexual abuse from happening in the first place."
The scientists are trying to raise $53,000 on the U.K. crowd-funding site Walacea to finish the clinical trial that will give men a drug called Firmagon. The drug is normally prescribed for prostate cancer and ultimately blocks the production of testosterone, making it a form of "chemical castration."
The researchers plan to inject half of the participants with Firmagon and the other half with a placebo. They will then measure sexual arousal, self-regulation and empathy in the men.
This type of research is difficult to do because doctors must report patients who are involved in pedophilic activities to the police. Donald Grubin, a forensic psychiatrist from Newcastle University in the U.K., says that is why "few people will come forward" to seek help.
But that isn't the only issue the researchers face.
"Ethics committees don’t look kindly on giving sugar pills to potential offenders," Grubin said.
Swedish regulators have approved the trial, which Grubin supports.
"What’s being discussed isn’t a cure for pedophilia; it is not even a treatment for pedophilia," he said. "It is a treatment for sexual arousal, and trying to assist men to manage that arousal."