In my near constant pursuit to educate non-offender’s (people who are not sexually attracted to children) I am always on the lookout for compelling articles.  I appreciate what I find on BBC because the articles are so rich in content and value.  On September 11th, I found an article that gives us a window into the world of pedophilia that is startling to a newcomer, and an important review for those of us familiar with the tune of child sexual violation.

The title of the article by Catherine Burns is, ‘The young Pedophiles who say they don’t abuse’ is compelling at the least.  This article lets us know about a growing group of pedophiles, who support each other to denying their physical compulsions to sexualize children.  Knowing that it harms children, they do not act on their physical desires and impulses.  As strange and bazar as it may sound, this is an important group of people who can teach us a great deal about those who do not hold back.  How can they refrain?  What motivates them to stop?  How do they feel about this sexual attraction that afflicts them?  

The article showcases a young man the author called Adam, one such pedophile who was brave enough to confide his torment.  Ms. Burn’s writes “People like Adam refer to themselves as “anti-contact” pedophiles. They recognize their own attraction to children but understand that is wrong to abuse them.  Adam first realized that there was something different about him when he was 13. His friends suddenly started talking about girls and he just wasn’t interested.  He couldn’t reveal the truth. He didn’t think about girls at all, but about boys who were younger than him.”  This insight offered by Adam tells us what some professionals have already discovered, pedophilia, just like every other sexual orientation, shows up in full from in early puberty.  This young man exposes the shame he feels for such attraction even though he cannot control it.  There are many who say that sexuality is a choice, this is a prime example of how wrong this assumption is.

Catherine Burns goes on to explain more about Adam’s situation.  “Deciding to lie, he pretended to like a girl in his class. Adam knew enough to pick someone who was considered pretty. As he was so shy, no-one really questioned why he didn’t ever ask her or anybody else on a date.  But Adam wasn’t yet at a point where he thought of himself as a pedophile.  “I thought I was too young, really. I thought pedophiles were old men who looked at children.”  Adams words push a focus onto some stereotypes that leave kids in danger on a constant basis. Pedophiles are not only ‘old men’.  

Josh Duggar, the son Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, was very publicly shamed for molesting 5 young girls when Josh was just 14-17.   His sexual escapades caused the cancelation of their popular show ‘19 and counting’.  Four of the 5 young girls were Josh’s own sisters. The young Duggar was not offered tools, or tactics to deny his impulses and as a result, 5 little girls were exposed to sex acts they could not give consent to.  We do not hear of teenagers sexualizing kids on the news very often, but it is a common occurrence within families, neighbors and any other place blooming young sex offenders find opportunity.  

Stereotypes are dangerous.  Pedophiles can be women or men, they can be young people and they can be old.  A teen ager from any walk of life, holds the same potential to sexually violate a child they have access to, just like adult does.  I wonder if Josh considers himself a child molester?  After all, to molest more than one young person shows a pattern.  To gain access and violate 5 little girls, shows very deliberate intention to seek out a specific partner.

Quoting the BBC’s article again, “There’s a growing body of research into young pedophiles like him, including those who have never been through the legal system.

People like Adam have started to form online forums and chat groups where they discuss their struggle.  Many of them, including Adam, dislike the word “pedophile” because of the way the media uses it interchangeably with “child rapist” or “child abuser”.  Instead, he refers to himself as an “MAP”, which stands for “minor-attracted person” Chilling…intriguing…compelling and important information that must become part of our world vocabulary.  Why?  Because when we give people an outlet to express themselves and we respond with understanding we have improved humanity, in my bold opinion.  We cannot stop a sexual desire for children, but we can redirect it. We can support young people like Adam in their commitment not to offend.  I wonder, would Josh Duggar have had access to the group Adam found?  If we offered this group to every middle schooler and high schooler in this country, how many child sex offenders could be uprooted and redirected?  How many children could be spared?

Catherine Burn’s gives us a clear window into this young MAP’s integrity by explaining “Adam wants to speak to out, he says, because he wants to protect children.  He explains that he gets “so upset” when he sees stories about child abuse on the news: “I’m doing this so that some people will stop that.”  Adam is very firm on this point. He says he has never abused a child, either online or in person.  He doesn’t even wait until the end of the question before replying emphatically: “I would never. I’d never do that.”  There’s not an ounce of hesitation. He sits upright and doesn’t slouch or fidget. He says he would kill himself before hurting a child.  And yet when he is asked about the precise nature of his attraction, he starts to become uncomfortable.’  It is no wonder why he is visibly uncomfortable to his interviewer.  Adam understands, despite his own physical calling, that children are not sexual objects and that heterosexuals and homosexuals alike, easily become enflamed at the idea of people like Adam.  However, if Adam can be taught to refrain, others can be as well.

Human beings work hard to separate themselves from the animal kingdom but just like horses, cows and goats our infant babies’ best nutrition come from our own bodies.  Dogs do not worry about being judged for having sex with the same sex dog, but humans have lied, manipulated and stayed in long time marriages to shield themselves from the judgment of others.  Human sexuality is as complex as it is simple, we cannot always control who we feel attracted to but unlike animals, our thinking minds can intervein before we exercise poor judgment.  Every major religion perpetuates the belief that holy books speak against homosexuality but I struggle to believe that God or any Divine Deity, would cast a person to hell for sex acts with willing, consenting participant while allowing those who rape innocent children into heaven.  This is a logic that defies the sacredness of life and must be addressed if people like Adam are to continue to come forward and help stop child sexual molestations and rape.  

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Advocate and Author

Annalise grew up in the Midwest but moved to Denver, Colorado more than 20 years ago.  Her oldest child is 19, and she has a son in high school as well as two step daughters.  Teaching her kids to cook is a family favorite!  In her spare time, she enjoys reading, watching movies and connecting with friends and family.

Authors express their own opinions which do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Stop Abuse Campaign.