Though many MAPs live within the law (Hall et al., 1995; Okami & Goldberg, 1992; Bailey, Bernard, & Hsu, 2016), it is critical not to overlook those who have not always done so, particularly because the latter have been the primary population from which researchers draw their samples.
Compared to law-abiding MAPs, some studies suggest that those who have committed sex crimes may have trouble with executive functioning (Massau et al., 2017), may have more pathological symptoms (Bailey, Bernhard, & Hsu, 2016), may have more positive views about the effects of sexual contact with children, or have been sexually active children themselves (Fagan, Wise, Schmidt, & Berlin, 2002; Spriggs, Cohen, Valencia, Zimri, & Galynker, 2018; Cohen, Ndukwe, Yaseen, & Galynker, 2017), and are older on average (Bailey, Bernhard, & Hsu, 2016). Some researchers have also found various physiological or neurological differences in those who have broken the law, such as less white matter (Cantor et al., 2008), lower IQ (Blanchard et al., 2007; Cantor et al., 2003), non-right-handedness (Blanchard et al., 2007; Cantor et al., 2003), history of head injury (Blanchard et al., 2003), and shorter stature (Taylor, Myers, Robbins, and Barnard, 1993; Cantor et al., 2007). Cohen, Ndukwe, Yaseen, & Galynker (2017) hypothesize that those who have broken the law “are distinguished by stable traits, such that [law-abiding MAPs] are unlikely to [break the law].”
It is important not to overlook the various studies that cast doubt on these findings. To focus on the issue of IQ, for instance, some studies find no difference at all when comparing MAPs and non-MAPs in a forensic sample (Schiffer & Vonlaufen, 2011; Suchy et al., 2009; Strassbberg et al., 2012, Azizian et al., 2015), and in at least one study (Eastvold et al., 2011), MAPs were shown to have a higher IQ than non-MAPs in the criminal population. One should therefore be extremely careful with such studies and avoid drawing hasty conclusions about MAPs who have broken the law.
While a distinction between MAPs who obey the law and those who have not is indeed crucial to an understanding of minor attraction, it is important not to dehumanize the latter in a population already heavily entrenched in stigma. MAPs who have been publicly outed due to a crime are 183 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population (Walter & Pridmore, 2012). Many attend mandatory treatment sessions in which they feel even more misunderstood and judged by their treatment providers than MAPs who voluntarily seek therapy (B4U-ACT, 2011). This is reflected on the other side of the equation: One survey indicated that, while the number of therapists who work with clients on the sex crime registry is generally on the rise, the vast majority are unwilling to work with pedophiles or those who have engaged sexually with minors (Bach & Demuth, 2018). Furthermore, there is a persistent stereotype that those who have broken a sex law are prone to do it again, despite evidence suggesting that they are as or less likely to do so than those who commit other crimes (Moulden, Firestone, Kingston, & Bradford, 2009; Lave, 2011).
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