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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Ben

I am now in my mid 40s, living in Australia. I first realized I was attracted to the junior male form when I was around 12 or 13 and hoped it was just a phase I was going through. As I became older, it soon became apparent that I was attracted only to boys younger than me.

I kept my feelings to myself for many years. When I was 18, I watched a TV program that provided a help line for minor-attracted people, but when I called the number, there was no specific help available in my local area. The operator suggested I visit my local doctor instead. I had no confidence my doctor could help me, so my search for help stalled.

When I was in my mid-20s, I read (or possibly misread) a signal from a 13-year-old boy I was close to that developed into a sexual relationship, my first ever. The result was a criminal conviction and probation.

I came out to my parents and my sister before my trial. I wanted them to hear it from me rather than to read it in the local paper. They supported me and continue to support me.

Before the court case, I met the mother of a friend of the boy’s. She was a very understanding and compassionate single mother of four boys. After her sons told her about my past, I came out to her and she supported me through my trial. When her boys went to live with her ex-partner, she came to live with me. We became close and even though I am not attracted to the female form, we had a child together. We will soon celebrate 10 years of marriage. To this day, it still surprises me that I am in this relationship, as I never thought I would ever be married and have a child of my own!

With my legal problems behind me, I was scared that I might again become too attached to a boy and began pushing away any that I felt I was getting too close to. This included my four step-sons, who eventually came to live with us.

Through personal development and the support of friends, I was able to forgive myself for what happened in my 20s. I learned to trust others and in the process, to trust myself. I also came to accept that being a minor-attracted person (MAP) was how I was born, that I couldn’t change it but that I could make my own decisions about my behaviour. Being able to connect and talk honestly and openly with non-MAP men about these attractions was life-changing for me and the positive effect on my mental health was huge.

I have now come out as an MAP to quite a few trusted friends and want to change the commonly held beliefs about us. If everyone had a son, brother, cousin, uncle, or friend whom they trusted and admired and who was able to explain to them what it is like to be an MAP, I believe that is what would make a difference to how we are perceived.

I should point out that I took a risk each time I came out to someone, but this was a risk I thought was acceptable for me and my situation at the time. So far this has worked for me, but this may not suit everyone.

Without professional help, it took me nearly 30 years from the time I realized I was attracted to minors, to feeling comfortable with who I am.

I am convinced that if there had been some professional help readily available to me as a young adult, then I would have come to terms with and managed my feelings for boys much sooner. It is also likely that rather than searching for answers for much of my life, I would have been happier and more confident.

Over the last few years I have become involved in some local men’s groups. I have shared about my own past and heard about challenges other men have faced. This has helped me gain some perspective and realise the challenges I have faced are not especially unique even though my attractions may be.

In many ways, and for much of my life, I let my attraction to boys define who I am. More recently, I am able to see myself as a husband and father, and professional in my work.
Keeping busy stops me feeling sorry for myself and besides work and family, I attend and help run men’s weekends, help with some local sustainability initiatives, and enjoy motorcycling, photography and travel.

If you can relate to anything I wrote here then I hope that this helps you realize you are, in fact, not alone.

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