- If pedophilia is a choice, why do people choose to do it?
I don't think it's a choice, but people rape or molest kids for the same reason they rape or molest adults. For sexual pleasure or for a feeling of power over that person.
Someone earlier in the thread said they couldn't understand why we would be attracted to a prepubescent body. To that I would say, don't bother trying to understand it. It's like a straight guy looking at a naked guy with his ass spread and trying to understand why that is attractive to gay guys. If we aren't gay, we aren't supposed to understand that attraction. Attraction just is. Why am I attracted to what I'm attracted to? Because I'm attracted to it. That's the only answer I can really give.
- Should pedophilia be considered a mental illness?
If the person suffers mental distress from their pedophilia, or has urges to hurt children, then yes, that is mental illness.
- Is pedophilia a sexual orientation? If not, why should it be distinguished from sexual orientation?
Sure. I don't see why not. Some experts are starting to call it a sexual orientation. Calling it an orientation is not in any way agreeing that it's ok to have sex with or molest kids, and it's not disagreeing with the point that children can not give consent. Homosexuality means same sex attraction. Heterosexuality means opposite sex attraction... We are talking about attraction here, not necessarily the physical act of sex. Pedophilia means attraction to pre-pubescents. Some don't like calling it an orientation though, because they think that is making the statement that pedophilia is ok and normal, and that it should just be accepted like any other orientation is accepted, and that people are going to think pedophiles don't need help or something if it's just accepted as normal.
- What sort of carrot/stick approach would be best to prevent pedophiles from crossing into criminal territory? (Especially since current punishments don't seem to discourage a fair number of them.)
I don't know. Making it easier for pedophiles who need help to go get the help would be a good start. Follow in the footsteps of other countries who have had success in this area.