Director Veronika Liskova and producer Zdenek Holy discuss how much they learned and how their stereotypes were challenged by meeting MAPs in person, hearing their stories, and getting to know Daniel as a person. They also describe their appreciation, empathy, and understanding for Daniel, and note the extremely positive reception the film has received.
A few researchers are continuing the encouraging trend of recognizing and studying the harmful stigma that MAPs face. A study published in the January 2015 issue of the premier sexology journal Archives of Sexual Behavior documents what MAPs already know: that there are “high degrees of punitive attitudes” toward MAPs regardless of their behavior, and that these attitudes are increased by “the clinical label pedophilia.” The report’s author also points out that “unlike any other stigma we know of,” the public sees it as particularly socially desirable to condemn MAPs. Unfortunately, the author overlooks the fact that his own use of the unnecessary and derogatory word “deviant” contributes to stigma. In spite of this shortcoming, the study makes an important contribution to the scientific literature on MAPs.
The report, entitled “Punitive Attitudes Against Pedophiles or Persons With Sexual Interest in Children: Does the Label Matter?” by Roland Imhoff, can be found here.
Another study pointing out the stigma and discrimination faced by MAPs has been published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. The study was conducted by a group of German researchers who first published on the topic over a year ago in the International Journal of Sexual Health. While the report presents stark data on the stigma faced by MAPs, the very fact that researchers are beginning to recognize this as a problem is encouraging. The study notes that negative attitudes toward MAPs are associated with anger and “right-wing authoritarianism.” The authors conclude that MAPs are “a stigmatized group who risk being the target of fierce discrimination.”
The report, entitled “Stigmatization of People with Pedophilia: Two Comparative Surveys” by Sara Jahnke, Roland Imhoff, & Juergen Hoyer, can be found here.
A German team of researchers has found that even a short online program can change prospective therapists’ negative attitudes about MAPs. The researchers developed a 10-min online educational program that included a video about an MAP intended to reduce stigma and increase the willingness of therapists in training to work with MAPs. They found that the program significantly reduced viewers’ agreements with common stereotypes about MAPs widely held by the public, and that this effect persisted at follow-up, although motivation to work with MAPs was not increased. The authors conclude that “stigmatizing attitudes, negative affective responses and social distance regarding people with pedophilia among psychotherapists in training can be positively influenced by a low-cost intervention.”
The study, entitled “Stigmatizing attitudes towards people with pedophilia and their malleability among psychotherapists in training” by Sara Jahnke, Kathleen Philipp, Juergen Hoyer, can be found here.
In its web magazine DW.DE, Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle has published an article emphasizing the distinction between sexual feelings and behavior, and the fact that MAPs can and do live law-abiding lives. The article tells the story of Graham, a British teenager who realized his attraction to younger children when he was 12, and who wants mental health care but is unable to find it. It also points out that Berlin’s most prominent hospital now provides a treatment program youth between ages 12 and 18 who realize they’re attracted to children. The article has some serious shortcomings–most importantly its focus on treatment for the sole purpose of control, a focus which fails to acknowledge the existence of both MAPs who don’t need such treatment, and those who seek services for a wide variety of other reasons. In addition, the article is accompanied by links to others in DW.DE that are based on the very myths the article attempts to dispel. However, the article seems to be part of an encouraging pattern of reports that are starting to challenge the myths, stereotypes, and stigma related to the attraction to children.
In this sensitive portrait of Daniel, who can only fall in love with a child, the director sought to demolish the label of sex offenders given to pedophiles and to highlight the taboos of modern society. A brave documentary encouraging discussion that would never be given the chance to take place, thus, setting a mirror up to the current level of social tolerance.
Researchers at Northwestern University, Department of Psychology, are conducting an anonymous survey of men attracted to persons below age 15. The purpose is further exploration of aspects of MAPs’ sexuality and personality that have not been studied well previously, such as attraction to adults and more unusual sexual interests. The anonymous survey should take about 30-45 minutes.
From Radio Prague:
The most discussed documentary at this year’s Jihlava festival was Daniel’s World, a portrait of a pedophile and other members of his community. Protagonist Daniel, who is in his 20s, speaks candidly about his love for a five-year-old boy – and about his responsibility to keep his urges in check. First-time director Veronika Lišková handles the subject sensitively – but why had she wanted to tackle such a thorny issue in the first place?
Think back to your first childhood crush. Maybe it was a classmate or a friend next door. Most likely, through school and into adulthood, your affections continued to focus on others in your approximate age group. But imagine if they did not. By some estimates, 1 percent of the male population continues, long after puberty, to find themselves attracted to prepubescent children.
From the Czech Film Center:
The feature-length documentary Daniel’s World by director Veronika Lišková takes a look at the world of the Czech paedophile community without prejudices or social stereotypes. The main figure in this tale of forbidden love and the constant struggle for self-reconciliation and for the possibility of acceptance in society is the young writer Daniel, who was born a paedophile. He is in love and he does not even hide his orientation from the parents of the boy he adores. The screening of the documentary on the borderline form of love and the human capability of trust and tolerance will be followed by a discussion with the director Veronika Lišková.