Updated: Jan 15
Opinion - USA Today recently wrote an article that is being criticized for attempting to normalize pedophilia. The new article, published on Monday was originally titled “What the Public Keeps Getting Wrong About Pedophilia” but after a wave of backlash they changed the title to “The Complicated Research Behind Pedophilia” which states pedophilia is a disorder that is based on misconceptions and is not something people choose.
USA Today had originally made a twitter thread which said pedophilia was innate and wanted to distance the word pedophile from being correlated to child sexual abuse. The thread was quickly deleted (just like the original headline) in which they also posted another thread trying to explain their reasoning behind the original posts.
Many saw the tweets and read the article but may have missed why the article is getting so much backlash; they cited Prostasia, a non-profit organization run by outspoken pedophiles who claim that although they’re attracted to children, their goal is to help combat child sexual abuse. The organization has dedicated themselves to child pornography bans, campaigns making child like sex dolls legal and argues against sexual offender registry.
The article also cites Dr. James Cantor, who says pedophilia is determined in the womb, but environmental factors influence whether someone acts on an urge to abuse. With this logic, would it be okay to conclude that someone’s ability to commit murder is also determined in the womb? This comes from the same people who say sexual anatomy, which is determined in the womb, doesn’t determine gender. Yet they believe attraction to children begins in the womb.
Cantor says pedophilia should be a part of the LGBTQ+ community saying that his findings show having a sexual attraction to children is comparable to sexual orientation. Cantor says there is no treatment for pedophilia, however they can be taught self-control but admits many wont seek help. In the article, Cantor is quoted saying, "Where do you want the person? Therapy is where he should be going, and all we've done is make it very, very difficult for a pedophile to get that… which to me is insane. It makes the problem worse."
The USA Today article also refers to Allyn Walker, a former academic at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, who became well known after calling to destigmatize pedophilia and referred to pedophiles as "minor-attracted people." According to Walker this would allow more people to seek help and prevent child sexual abuse.
The article says most of the public assumes pedophilia is synonymous with sexual abuse but according to the USA Today writer, Alia E. Dastagir, “Researchers who study pedophilia say the term describes an attraction, not an action, and using it interchangeably with ‘abuse’ fuels misperceptions.”
According to the article, scientists have allegedly figured out how pedophiles can control their impulses and improved the understanding of root causes including prenatal and early childhood factors. Scientists define pedophilia as “recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children.”
The article claims that not all people who sexually abuse children are pedophiles. Apparent “experts” claim that some pedophiles never abuse children and some who sexually abuse children do not prefer them because they may have “impulse control problems.” Anna Salter, a psychologist and author who has done over 500 evaluations of high-risk sex offenders takes the stance that there are some people who molest kids who are not pedophiles. According to Salter, “They molest kids because of anger.” Salter encouraged treatment in the article and says pedophiles may not choose that they are attracted to kids but are responsible if they do or don’t act on it. The article quoted her saying what we ‘should be telling pedophiles’ - “Offending is devastating. It damages the lives of victims. It has damaged your life. You can learn to control yourself. You have the capacity to do better,” said Salter.
Michael Seto, forensic research director at the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group in Canada was quoted in the article saying "…we've accepted the idea that this is not something that people choose," after saying there is more neuroscientific knowledge of pedophilia than any other time in history. According to Seto, men with pedophilia are more likely to have had a childhood head injury. One study suggests pedophilia is influenced by genetic factors because those with pedophilia are more likely to report their mothers had psychiatric treatments.
The entirety of the pandemic, Doctors have been silenced for taking a stance on early treatment options and have even been told they could lose their medical license if they spread “misinformation.” Censorship exists for many on social media, but Prostasia is allowed to be on social media. Further, it was USA Today who deleted their original tweet, not big tech. As Prostasia continues it’s move to rebrand pedophiles as “Minor Attracted Persons,” child pornography continues to run rampant on the internet with sex trafficking and pedophiles at the heart of the crime. What is condoned on social media, tends to be condoned by society.
What this article does is paint pedophiles as victims in their own bodies and that we have had ‘misconceptions’ of them all along. Getting these people treatment is one thing, but to normalize the behavior is another. Sexual attraction should never be normalized or seen as a sexual orientation; this is a slippery slope. Our society needs to stop accepting things so easily. Pedophilia is labeled as so because it is when an adult has an attraction to infants or children or those who do not have the ability to consent. Children who are molested or raped have long term physical or mental problems. This normalization concept hurts the innocent further.