University professor Allyn Walker said he believes that people who are attracted to children are misunderstood and should be destigmatized.
Walker, an assistant professor at Old Dominion University wrote the book, “A Long, Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity.” Walker’s book is about what he calls the “widespread assumptions that persons who are preferentially attracted to minors,” and looks at the “lives of non-offending minor-attracted persons (MAPs),” a term Walker uses to refer to what most of us call pedophiles, but he feels is less stigmatizing.
In the interview with the Prostasia Foundation, Walker said that abuse is wrong, however, he argued there is a distinction between a sexual attraction and acting on that sexual attraction.
“From my perspective, there is no morality or immorality attached to attraction to anyone because no one can control who they’re attracted to at all,” Walker said in an interview with The Prostasia Foundation. “In other words, it’s not who we’re attracted to that’s either okay or not okay. It’s our behaviors and responding to that attraction that are either okay or not okay.”
The Prostasia Foundation is a non-profit focused on child protection along with an “evidence-based approach to child sexual abuse prevention with its commitment to human rights and sex positivity.”
“I want to be extremely clear that child sexual abuse is never ever okay,” Walker said. “But having an attraction to minors as long as it isn’t acted on, doesn’t mean that the person who has those attractions is doing something wrong.”
Walker contends that these people, that he refers to as non-offending MAPS, have an attraction “they didn’t ask for” and “would do anything to change.”
The subjects of the research that Walker conducted for his book, claim they’ve never acted on their attraction to children. Walker said that in his opinion the research does not show whether or not attraction to minors should be considered a sexual orientation.
“Pedophilia” is a clinical term that refers to an attraction to children who have not yet gone through puberty, Walker said. But it does not automatically mean someone has committed a sexual offense because there is a difference between MAPs and child sex abusers, he added.
“MAP refers to someone who has preferential attractions to children, and that can include children who have gone through puberty or not,” Walker said. “And child sexual abusers are people who have committed a sexual offense against a child,” and while some are MAPs, “many child sexual abusers are not MAPs,” according to Walker.
According to Walker, people attracted to minors are “universally maligned” and the stigma surrounding MAPs is an obstacle, Walker said. Therapeutic intervention to cure MAPs’ attraction is “not really an option,” Walker said, but his opinion is that “affirming therapy” coule be used to teach “strategies for non-offending.”