Channel 4's The Paedophile Next Door made for uncomfortable viewing Tuesday night after a man battling with self-loathing, fear and shame admitted his sexual attraction to children on camera in a desperate appeal for change in how to counter child abuse.
Prompting a vast array of reactions from viewers, the documentary spliced brutally honest appeals for help from so-called "virtuous paedophiles", alongside shocking accounts from victims who have had their lives devastated by abuse.
Channel 4 introduced 39-year-old Eddie, a man who insists he has never had sexual contact with a child but admits he has been sexually attracted to girls as young as four for most of his adult life.
Eddie was inevitably going to fiercely divide the opinions of those watching the show and viewers appeared split on the problem of what to do with non-offending paedophiles.
Before it even started rent-a-gob Katie Hopkins had waded in with her somewhat predictable opinion.
The Paedophile Next Door. Brilliant title. Terrible thought. *trots off to lock front door*— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) November 25, 2014
But with research showing that as many as one in 50 men could be sexually attracted to children to some degree, the main message behind the documentary was that preventative measures should be implemented to treat paedophiles in the UK before they offend.
It suggested radical changes are needed to child protection that include treatment and therapy for those who come forward despite never having committed any sex offences. Currently in the UK, such assistance is only available to those who have committed an offence.
There were also calls for the UK to set up a similar scheme to Germany's Prevention Project Dunkelfeld (PPD) which treats people who admit they are sexually-attracted to children to help them live safely in society.
Many viewers responded positively to the documentary, praising its efforts to radicalise child protection.
#ThePaedophileNextDoor was a very thought provoking documentary. It's a big problem that needs a different approach to protect children.— David A (@PassionateDave) November 26, 2014
#ThePaedophileNextDoor was a brilliant documentary. If we attempt to understand and help these people then child abuse may not happen...— Bex (@bexemoore) November 26, 2014
Other's reacted with fury and criticised Channel 4 for giving Eddie a platform.
#ThePaedophileNextDoor there is a cure, and it costs about £3.00. It's called a bullet.— English Cad (@englishcad) November 26, 2014
#ThePaedophileNextDoor wow sorry but I don't think this is something you can "cure" there's something seriously wrong if you fancy kids 😲— Alice Chamberlain (@AliceC_x) November 26, 2014
Wonder how many of the idiots on twitter defending ppl who find kids attractive would be happy living next door 2them #ThePaedophileNextDoor— Liar MPs (@LiarMPs) November 25, 2014
Getting so angry seeing people say how brave that vile sorry excuse for a human is!! Bring back the death penalty!November 25, 2014
But Eddie was more than aware of the hatred he would provoke, telling the creator of the show, Steve Humphries: "People will probably say 'Why isn't this guy locked up? We should kill this guy, we should go and give him a good shoeing'.
"I, honest to God, won't run away from you and if that is what you want to do to me, you come and do it, because all you are doing in that scenario is just keeping the status quo.
"Going around abusing children is not acceptable, viewing images of child pornography is not acceptable, but people are just waiting for you to offend before they help you.
"They are saying 'Do what you want but if we catch you we are going to bang you up', instead of saying perhaps 'Listen, we can help you'.
"But if you don't have that help, (and) you don't have that option to come forward and say 'Look, I have got a problem, I need help', what are we changing? We are changing nothing."
Eddie, who does not have a family and is receiving treatment in Europe, was praised for his "bravery" by many viewers.
People should put down their pitch forks and view it as the mental illness it is. People have missed the point of #ThePaedophileNextDoor— Christopher Charters (@djcharters) November 25, 2014
Very difficult to watch #ThePaedophileNextDoor but it's astonishingly brave for that guy Eddie to speak publicly about his feelings.— Maïa Dunphy (@MaiaDunphy) November 25, 2014
Funny how people wanting #ThePaedophileNextDoor dead for suppressing criminal desires seem to be proud of their own criminal desires.— Alyssa White (@alyssaaaaawhite) November 26, 2014
Volunteering yourself to give a well needed insight and honesty is one of the bravest things I've seen 👀 Poor guy #ThePaedophileNextDoor— clare hagiioannu (@clarehagiioannu) November 25, 2014
You can't attack a man who hasn't done anything wrong and has come out to ask for help #ThePaedophileNextDoor— Emily (@emilyc0nnor) November 25, 2014
Eddie is clearly desperate for help but too many people are grabbing their pitchforks. #ThePaedophileNextDoor— Phileephilop (@phileephilop) November 25, 2014
I truly hope that no harm comes to Eddie, and that he gets the help he so clearly needs and wants #ThePaedophileNextDoor— Anna Mac (@AnnaGraceMac) November 25, 2014
I've always thought this about closet peados, must be awful having those thoughts. There should be help available #ThePaedophileNextDoor— Steve (@stipkins) November 25, 2014
A Paedophile calling for help should be applauded! Its the ones lying & destroying childrens lives who need shooting #ThePaedophileNextDoor— 50 Shades of Kay (@Kay_Evanss) November 25, 2014
Dr Sarah Goode, an academic who studies paedophilia, brought the film makers Mr Humphries and German co-director Rudolf Herzog, together with Eddie.
She told them that currently the only message getting through to potential child sex offenders was that they were "monsters" who faced a horrific time in prison when they were caught and jailed.
"That is the only message we are giving at the moment and that is not a deterrent, it doesn't keep kids safe because it is not saying that person has any choice," she said.
"If we change that message and if we say to this person OK you are a paedophile but you are also a moral person who can make moral choices and you can choose never to break the law, never to offend, you can choose to keep children safe."
Speaking today she said that paedophilia was a "public health issue" that should be looked at "maturely" and addressed in the same way as campaigns to cut drink driving or smoking.
The programme also saw Eddie meet Ian McFadyen, 49, who was abused by a schoolteacher as a young boy.
McFadyen was abused at Caldicott School near Slough, Buckinghamshire, in the 1970s and became a drug addict and child prostitute.
In the documentary he tells Eddie: "Eighteen years ago I was quite violent, I would probably have attempted to kill you."
McFadyen admitted that the documentary may not be popular with child sex abuse victims, who feel they do not get enough support themselves. But he said current practices are "antiquated".
He said: "The only reason I agreed to get involved in this was that we can look at this as being potentially another option towards being proactive.
"This is about stopping the abuse actually happening. It is not a comfortable subject, I don't want to sit with paedophiles, I don't advocate for paedophiles, I feel wholly uncomfortable with them, but ... the damage is done to me and my generation, what I don't want is that to keep occurring because we won't look at new ways and sit down with the offenders before they offend."
Jon Brown, the NSPCC's head of strategy and development, praised the documentary and said that paedophilia needs to be addressed differently.
He added that there are many grades of attraction to children, saying: "There are going to be men out there ... who have some degree of sexual interest in children but are going to be able to manage it.
"There are sufficient inhibitors in place for them to know what they have got to lose, that it is not that strong and they can maintain a consenting adult relationship. They will probably be OK and not go on and offend.
"But the problem at the moment and over the last decade is the hugely increased availability of child abuse imagery online.
"That is a problem because that can fuel and stoke interest that for some people perhaps was not that great in the first place."Suggest a correction