The portrayal of Paedophilia in the media: An analysis of themes and stigma in South African newsprint media 2013-2018.
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Child sexual offenders and paedophilic acts are highly controversial and widely debated topics, especially in the media. An assumption is made that paedophilic acts are among the most highly stigmatised and misunderstood behaviours. However, an examination of print media portrayals of paedophilic acts, potentially perpetuating the stigma attached to paedophiles, especially in a South African context, has yet to be conducted. This study aimed to address this issue by examining South African print media reports i) to identify themes concerning paedophilic acts, ii) to determine whether such themes portray paedophilic acts in accordance with scientific research on paedophilia and the media and iii) how this reporting might impact on the stigma attached to paedophilia. South African newsprint articles were located and analysed using thematic analysis to identify key themes that emerged from the data and juxtaposed with scientific literature on the topic of paedophilic acts, the media and stigmatisation. The study found nine dominant themes (and four sub-themes). These themes aligned with the scientific literature on the media, perpetuating stigma associated with paedophilia and paedophilic acts. Keywords: Paedophilic acts; Paedophilia; Child sexual offenders; Paedophiles; Mental illness; The media; Stigmatisation; Thematic analysis; Qualitative methods.