PORTSMOUTH, OH – There’s a new-fangled phrase floating around that seeks to replace the word pedophilia for non-offending individuals. A “minor-attracted person” or MAP refers to a person who is sexually attracted to children, but does not sexually molest or rape them.
Allyn Walker is the author of the controversial book, “A Long, Dark, Shadow: Minor Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity.” Walker is a transgender male.
The controversy centers around the argument that not everyone who is sexually attracted to children will sexually abuse them. Walker doesn’t want this group of people to be labeled as pedophiles.
“Individuals with attractions to minors are generally considered equivalent to individuals who commit sexual offenses against children. In reality, minor-attracted persons (MAPs) and minor-targeting sex offenders are two separate groups,” writes Walker in her dissertation, which is the foundation of her book. Visit https://academicworks.cuny.edu.
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However, Walker cites other opinions that consider pedophilia to be a sexual orientation akin to homosexuality, bisexuality or heterosexuality.
The following are excerpts from an interview with Walker at the Prostasia Foundation.
Sometimes I hear from people who think that MAPs need to work on getting rid of their attractions altogether. And on one hand, just because someone has attractions to children, doesn’t mean that they will never experience attraction to adults as well, or even that their attractions to children will persist for their entire lives. Sexuality can be fluid, and there are many MAPs who have a range of attractions to both children and adults. And sometimes those attractions can fluctuate just like any other attractions.
And I want to be extremely clear that child sexual abuse is never ever okay. But having an attraction to minors as long as it isn’t acted on, doesn’t mean that the person who has those attractions is doing something wrong. I think we have a tendency to want to categorize people with these attractions as evil or morally corrupt. But when we’re talking about non-offending MAPS, these are people who have an attraction that they didn’t ask for. And one that frequently they would do anything to change. But they find that they’re unable to change those attractions. And most importantly, the people in my study did not act on them.
A 2021 article in the New York Post reported, “A Virginia university assistant professor who argued it wasn’t necessarily immoral for adults to be sexually attracted to kids has agreed to resign after facing intense backlash… Critics, however, argued that Walker’s terminology destigmatized sex offenders.”
Child pornography is not a victimless crime. Obtaining and viewing child pornography is a crime, even if an individual does not engage in the sexual molestation or rape of a child. The children in photos and videos are victims. And individuals who view child porn are doing harm to these victims.
So, should pedophilia ever be labeled as a sexual orientation, and if so, will it be considered a protected class? And will this lead to and allow the sexual molestation and sexual assault of children by adults to be legal?
As a therapist with decades of education and work experience, I agree that non-offending individuals with pedophilia need access to mental health counseling to prevent child molestation and rape. The suffering individuals who desperately want help need to have a safe therapeutic place to receive treatment with trained behavioral health therapists. Therapeutic treatments need to be studied and researched to develop evidence-based counseling.
In my professional and personal opinion, the new phrase “minor-attracted people” for non-offenders is a gateway phrase that opens the door for tolerating, accepting, and promoting pedophilia, whether an individual sexually molests a child; has sexual fantasies about raping a child; or views child pornography. I would agree with the term “non-offending pedophilia.”
Without question, the protection of our children should be the major priority both for society and for the psychiatric profession.