At B4U-ACT, we believe that the following guiding principles are crucial when mental health professionals work with minor-attracted people:
1. Development. We understand that the attraction to children or adolescents is both sexual and emotional, and that individuals do not choose to have these feelings. People who are attracted to minors usually recognize their feelings in adolescence or young adulthood, and feel that they are very different from other persons.
2. Individuality. We realize that other than their sexual and emotional feelings toward minors, minor-attracted people do not have any particular characteristics in common. They vary as do all people, and it is inaccurate to claim that all or most minor-attracted people have certain beliefs or personalities, exhibit psychopathology or specific personality disorders, or engage in particular behaviors. We do not assume that they abuse children, that they are prone to deception or violence, or that their sexual feelings are more compulsive or uncontrollable than other people’s. We see clients as individuals, not as a category.
3. Humanity. We believe that persons who are sexually attracted to children can be contributing members of their communities and that they deserve to be treated with respect. All clients should be treated in a caring, non-judgmental, and respectful manner. We see minor-attracted people as whole human beings, not as dangerous criminals or “deviants.” Therefore, we advocate the use of supportive therapeutic goals, assumptions, and approaches. Clients voluntarily seeking treatment should not be pressured or coerced to accept treatment modalities that they find objectionable.
4. Needs. We recognize that like all people, individuals who are attracted to minors sometimes want mental health services to deal with issues unrelated to their sexuality, but they are reluctant to seek help because they feel they cannot be completely honest as a result of their sexual feelings. Some minor-attracted people seek services to help them deal with issues that result from society’s negative reactions to their sexual feelings. Others seek assistance and support in finding satisfying lives and relationships while living within the law. We believe that in all these cases, clients should have access to compassionate and confidential services that meet their needs and that help them feel safe to talk openly about their sexual feelings. Access to mental health services should not be denied due to one’s sexual attraction to minors or one’s beliefs about these attractions.
5. Confidentiality. We recognize that laws require the reporting of illegal sexual behavior and plans for such behavior, but they do not require the reporting of sexual feelings and desires. We appreciate the danger which could be posed to a client if their employer, family, friends, community, or anyone else found out about his sexual feelings. Thus, such information should not be divulged to persons beyond a provider’s staff. At the first session, or as soon as attractions to minors surface in a subsequent session, the therapist should inform the client exactly who on the staff, if anyone, will be told about their sexual feelings. The therapist should also provide the client with a clear statement of the cases under which illegal behavior, suspicion of such behavior, or plans for such behavior would have to be reported to the authorities.
6. Stigma reduction. We recognize the severe stigma directed against minor-attracted people by the media, politicians, law enforcement officials, and some mental health professionals. We oppose the perpetuation of false stereotypes and the use of language that instills fear in the public, fails to promote understanding, and ignores the humanity of minor-attracted people. We realize that stigma and stereotypes force minor-attracted people to remain in hiding and prevent those who could benefit from mental health services from receiving them. We do not believe this serves the interests of children, minor-attracted people, or society in general. Therefore, providers have an obligation within their profession and community to speak up and confront stereotype-perpetuating statements made by professional colleagues, family members, friends, and the media. Providers need to educate professionals and the larger community regarding persons sexually attracted to children or adolescents.
7. Education. Providers have an obligation to offer and engage in continuing education and professional growth activities on an ongoing basis in order to promote and develop a more accurate understanding of individuals who are sexually attracted to minors and to improve services for them. Such activities should challenge popular stereotypes rather than reinforce them, and portray the full humanity of minor-attracted people.
Adopted July 18, 2008