The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is currently revising its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the authoritative handbook used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental disorders. The DSM influences the beliefs and practices of mental health professionals, the criminal justice system, the media, and the public. Therefore, it has an enormous impact on all of society, especially those who are diagnosed with mental disorders. For that reason, the APA states that DSM revisions must be based on accurate and complete scientific information, that revision workgroups should include representation from “patient and family groups,” that the revision process must seek “input from stakeholders,” and that DSM should be “sensitive to the needs of clinicians and their patients.”
B4U-ACT is in strong agreement with this position of the APA, particularly in regard to DSM revisions regarding sexual attraction to minors. The DSM has an especially profound effect on people (including teenagers) who are emotionally and sexually attracted to children or adolescents, who number in at least the hundreds of thousands in North America.
Yet the DSM is currently being revised in the absence of information from the vast majority of these people. Instead, revisions are being based on limited data from unrepresentative correctional populations who cannot be honest with researchers. It is well-known among social scientists that such data are highly biased and misleading. The lack of accurate information feeds irrational fears surrounding people who are attracted to children or adolescents. These fears are extraordinarily intense and lead to severe stigma and adversarial policies which force minor-attracted people into hiding, making the gathering of accurate information even more difficult. Perpetuating this vicious cycle neither protects children nor leads to effective policies. It renders the APA powerless to gather and disseminate accurate information.
B4U-ACT is proposing a solution to this otherwise intractable problem by proposing that at least one member of the paraphilias subworkgroup meet in person with a small group of minor-attracted people who are not under the supervison of the criminal justice system. B4U-ACT is emailing the paraphilias subworkgroup to urge them to participate in such a meeting. B4U-ACT is also informing the public of this proposal by emailing researchers, mental health agencies, child protection organizations, political leaders, media outlets, and others.
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