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Self-help program

4. Note the explanations you use

In this assignment, you will examine what kind of thoughts you use to give yourself permission to act in a way that sexualises children.

Giving permission refers to all of the justifications that you use to explain to yourself that your actions are permissible or that you make them seem less harmful.

An example of this kind of thinking is: “It's just a picture. All I do is look at pictures.”

Exercise: Changing child-sexualising actions


You will learn to question the thoughts you have used to give yourself permission to engage in sexual actions towards children. You will learn how to replace them with alternative thoughts that can help you act more responsibly.


Make use of what was discussed in the previous exercise when completing this one.

Please read the questions below relating to explanations and justifications. Think about answers, either in your mind or by writing them in the boxes below.

Practise using alternative thoughts the next time you feel tempted to engage in child-related sexual activity.

After the exercise, think in your mind or write down how you succeeded in the exercise and what felt challenging.

1. Start with a list of all the thoughts you use to give yourself permission to engage in sexual actions towards children.

For example, how do you justify viewing material that presents child sexual abuse?

List at least three key thoughts that you most often use to give yourself permission to act.

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2. Look at the list you made.

For each of your explanations to justify your sexual activity towards children, consider the following questions:

  • Where do my thoughts come from? What makes me think this way?

  • How do I know that what I am thinking is true?
  • How does what I think about children sexually support children's wellbeing and rights?
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3. Also write down alternative thoughts after each justification you use.

These are thoughts that would make you act in a manner that is more responsible and respectful of children's rights.

List and write down any alternative thoughts that come to mind.

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Sexual interest in children doesn’t ever automatically lead to actions. Everyone is able to control their sexual impulses and activities if they want to.

This is possible especially when there is sufficient guidance, support and help available. However, this does not happen automatically, but rather self-regulation requires practice.