Beyond Fear and Mistrust:
March 20, 2008, 9:00 am – 3:30 pm
Toward Open Communication between Mental Health Professionals and Minor-Attracted People
The goals of this first workshop organized by B4U-ACT were:
- To define the communication problem that exists between mental health professionals and minor-attracted people in society
- To promote understanding of the harmful consequences of this problem, and the benefits of eliminating the barriers to communication
- To develop mutual empathy among mental health professionals and minor-attracted people
- To help mental health professionals see minor-attracted people as diverse in their characteristics and behaviors
- To form a working group that would develop and carry out plans to promote communication between the two groups over a period of time, and on a larger scale.
The workshop also included presentations refuting popular myths about attraction to minors and demonstrating the harshly negative messages and abusive treatment directed toward minor-attracted young people, along with these young people’s reactions to severe stigma. Another presentation described what was missing from these messages, including stories of minor-attracted people who contribute to their communities, and opportunities for minor-attracted people to participate in the development of policies, laws, and programs that affect them.
The workshop concluded with an opportunity to brainstorm ideas for future work. A listserv was started for continued discussion, and additional mental health professionals and minor-attracted people were invited to join.
Throughout the day, there was respectful communication between mental health professionals and minor-attracted people, and some new friendships and partnerships were forged. The organizers hope that minor-attracted people and mental health professionals will work together to find ways to fight false stereotypes, to help others see minor-attracted people as contributors to society rather than as potential offenders who need to be controlled, and to make accurate information and compassionate services available for minor-attracted people who need help in finding hope and fulfillment in their lives.