Sir: Amid the shock generated by the Dunblane killings, we should not make the mistake of seeing these as a rare eruption of incomprehensible evil.
Those of us who work in mental health services are faced daily with patients whose problems have their origins in cruelty and sexual exploitation experienced in childhood. Time and again, one hears stories of appalling, remorseless abuse. Childhoods are destroyed and adult survivors carry a bitter legacy of pain, betrayal, guilt, loss of self-worth and repression. In some, the emotional consequences are intolerable and the result is death by suicide. Such evil takes place every day in every part of this country, often behind facades of impeccable respectability.
It seems likely that Thomas Hamilton was a paedophile whose depraved lusts grew in strength over many years. In many individuals of this sort, such desires and the capacity to exploit others are fed by a diet of degrading pornography.
The events in Dunblane highlight our widespread failure to protect women and children from the depradations of psychopathic males. The response might begin with an immediate crackdown on child pornography and a severe drawing-in of the boundaries of what is acceptable in adult pornography. Those who commit sexual offences against women and children should face harsh and long sentences commensurate with the damage which they cause.
Dr J S Callender