B4U-ACT News Update – May 2014

Media

A Harvard University graduate/Human Rights attorney recently completed a six-week cross-country trek interviewing minor-attracted people (MAPs) — including a member of B4U-ACT’s volunteer staff — for a documentary film focusing on their day-to-day lives. The finished product will be pitched to major cable networks.

Research

The results of a Northwestern University survey for which B4U-ACT helped recruit participants are currently being compiled for submission to scientific journals.

A Towson University (Baltimore, Md.) graduate student is presently collecting the results of an Internet survey/thesis project developed in collaboration with B4U-ACT.

DSM-5

It’s been nearly a year following the publication of the DSM-5 (The 5th edition of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association), which initially saw several hopeful revisions to the diagnostic entry on pedophilia, among them:

  • Noting a similar developmental course for those attracted to children as those attracted to adults; specifically in terms of awareness of attraction at puberty, stability throughout the lifespan, and decreased attraction later in life
  • Pointing out that a significant number of males may be preferentially attracted to children: “The highest possible prevalence for pedophilic disorder in the male population is approximately 3%-5%.”
  • Acknowledging that the sexual attraction to children, in and of itself, does not constitute a disorder (p. 698)
  • Removing an inaccurate, stigmatizing list of motives and behaviors once considered standard-issued to the minor-attracted populace
After spending two years during the DSM-5 revision process imploring the DSM-5 Subcommittee on the Paraphilias to expand the scientific literature review on pedophilia to include non-criminological studies, to meet face-to-face with freestanding stakeholders willing to speak honestly about being sexually attracted to children, and to consider that firsthand perspective when updating diagnostic criteria, we were delighted the Subcommittee gleaned and, more importantly, published the above insights.

Unfortunately, the revised diagnostic entry sent many a conservative pundit reeling, so much so that the APA, instead of correcting critics’ fundamental errors and using the backlash as an opportunity to educate the public about how progress in the research led them to the above conclusions, issued a social control message while sacrificing any mention of therapeutic goals for MAPs. B4U-ACT is currently working on an effort to establish communication with, and educate, the APA regarding this issue.

Professional Outreach

For the past five years, at the behest of university professors intent on placing the next generation of psychologists and social workers in direct contact with hard-to-access client populations, B4U-ACT began dispatching representatives to speak with graduate and undergraduate classes in Clinical Psychology, Social Work, and Human Sexuality. B4U-ACT reps have participated in student Q & A sessions at Widener University in Pennsylvania, Howard University in Washington D.C., and Northwestern University in Chicago. Time and again, students have responded with overwhelmingly positive feedback, thankful for the opportunity to weigh the nuances and complexities of actual people against textbook caricatures.

In memoriam

This July 15 marks the fourth anniversary of co-founder Michael Melsheimer’s death.  B4U-ACT is the result of Mike’s stubborn insistence on “outing” himself as a MAP (i.e., “living in truth and dignity”), his recognition of the importance of people coming to know MAPs on a personal level in order to understand what it is like to grow up as a MAP, and his insistence that there be welcoming and respectful mental health services for MAPs who are coming to realize their sexual-age orientation so that they can be supported in finding ways to deal with their orientation without breaking the law.

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This American Life: Tarred and Feathered

On National Public Radio’s This American Life:

There’s one group of people that is universally tarred and feathered in the United States and most of the world. We never hear from them, because they can’t identify themselves without putting their livelihoods and reputations at risk. That group is pedophiles. It turns out lots of them desperately want help, but because it’s so hard to talk about their situation it’s almost impossible for them to find it. Reporter Luke Malone spent a year and a half talking to people in this situation, and he has this story about one of them.

Listen to Tarred and Feathered, Act 2 here.

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B4U-ACT News Update – October 2013

Congratulations to Simon Fraser University graduate/past B4U-ACT workshop attendee Carin Freimond on the successful completion of her Master’s thesis, Navigating the Stigma of Pedophilia, which features the testimony of MAPs recruited with B4U-ACT’s help.

On October 5, 2013, Co-Founder and Board Chair Russell Dick, LCSW, served as a panelist for a workshop sponsored by the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church, part of an all-day symposium focusing on social and political issues.  Sharing the panel with a YWCA counselor as well as a member of B4U-ACT’s own “Family & Friends of MAPs” online support group, Russell discussed society’s punitive mindset toward MAPs, emphasizing how the negative effects of stigma frequently prevent MAPs from seeking mental health services in advance of crisis situations, drawing particular attention to the dearth of guidance and support for adolescents — possibly within their own communities and congregations — grappling in secret with emergent sexual attractions to younger children. Eighty to 100% of attendees evaluated the panelists as “Excellent” or “Good” in addressing their objectives.

The two surveys that B4U-ACT completed and published on our website (click here) were among the 11 studies related to the stigmatization of MAPs that were reviewed in a  recent article published in the International Journal of Sexual Health, entitled “Stigmatization of People with Pedophilia: A Blind Spot in Stigma Research.” The article discusses “the need for more theory-driven, rigorous, and representative empirical studies and propose[s] perspectives and requirements for the scientific study of stigma against people with pedophilia.”

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine are continuing their study, developed in cooperation with B4U-ACT, of a non-forensic sample of MAPs.

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Research Article: Stigmatization of people with pedophilia

Just published in the International Journal of Sexual Health:

Stigmatization of People with Pedophilia: A Blind Spot in Stigma Research

The study refers to B4U-ACT’s surveys.

Abstract: Stigmatization restricts people’s opportunities in life and has severe consequences on mental health and psychological well-being. This article focuses on stigmatization research on pedophilia. Based on an extensive literature search, it reviews studies that have empirically determined lay theories, stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination against people with pedophilia, as well as the effect of stigma on this group. The review reveals a scarcity of empirical studies on the subject (11). Although the majority of studies give at least an indication that stigma against people with pedophilia is highly prevalent, we also identified severe methodological limitations and a lack of a unifying and systematic research agenda. We discuss the need for more theory-driven, rigorous, and representative empirical studies and propose perspectives and requirements for the scientific study of stigma against people with pedophilia.

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LA Times: Many researchers taking a different view of pedophilia

In the Los Angeles Times:

Pedophilia once was thought to stem from psychological influences early in life. Now, many experts view it as a deep-rooted predisposition that does not change.

As a young boy, Paul Christiano loved the world of girls — the way they danced, how their spindly bodies tumbled in gymnastics. In adolescence, as other boys ogled classmates, he was troubled to find himself fantasizing about 7- to 11-year-olds.

Read the full article here.

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B4U-ACT News Update – October 2012

Continuing in our efforts to provide face-to-face opportunities for MAPs and mental health professionals (MHPs) to better understand each other, B4U-ACT provided a workshop at the National Association of Social Workers, Maryland Chapter’s Fall Clinical Conference on September 28, 2012.  Two MAPs and two MHPs jointly presented a workshop entitled “Beyond Fear & Distrust: Dialogue About & With Mental Health Professionals and Minor-Attracted Persons” to 29 participants.  Post-workshop evaluations indicated that on 5 different criteria, 86-93% of participants rated the session as “Excellent” or “Good.” Comments included: “Very beneficial workshop. Due to high level of discussion around topic, might want to make this an all-day workshop and/or keynote speech discussion.”  “Excellent, thoughtful, heartfelt presentation.”  “Glad NASW took the risk to present this! VERY worthwhile!”

B4U-ACT considers in-person dialog an indispensable component to dismantling Marvel Comics-grade representations of MAPs in the public psyche. Since 2008, we’ve coordinated six annual workshops inviting MAPs and MHPs to convene on neutral territory to discuss the biases, apprehensions, and other obstacles to achieving mutual understanding between the two groups. Sadly, economic cutbacks in 2010 that resulted in the loss of B4U-ACT’s state funding have prevented us from carrying those dialogs forward; however, the funds necessary to reinstate this crucial initiative are comparatively modest compared to what one might expect — nothing a band of compassionate, progressive thinkers couldn’t spare!

Please consider lending a voice to a community all too often spoken for by popular opinion and redefining the treatment paradigm by helping provide clinicians and therapists a face-to-face alternative to the unknown quantity.

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