Friends and Family

Answers and support for friends and family members of MAPs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a MAP?

MAP stands for minor-attracted person, which refers to anyone who experiences an attraction to minors. This site uses the term MAP instead of pedophile because pedophiles are attracted specifically to prepubescent children while a MAP can be attracted to any combination of prepubescent, pubescent, or post-pubescent minors. The term MAP includes all pedophiles as well as MAPs who are not pedophiles. Minors themselves can be MAPs if they are attracted to children who are significantly younger than them.

Check out our dictionary for definitions of common terms.

What should I do when a friend or family member tells me they're a MAP?

Initial Reaction

Telling a friend or family member about their attractions can be incredibly stressful for a MAP, so reacting in a way that makes them feel like they did the right thing by telling you is important. They're probably thinking about all the ways the conversation could go wrong, so explain that you're glad they felt comfortable coming to you and reassure them that you're not going to overreact and that this doesn't change how you feel about them as a person.

Keep Listening

It can be tempting to take a moment to process what you've just learned, but this can elicit concerns that you're uncomfortable or planning to do something harmful, causing additional stress for your friend or family member. If they have more to say, allow them to continue talking. Feel free to occasionally ask simple clarifying questions if you're confused about something, but make sure they're able to get everything off their chest. If they don't continue talking, they may be waiting for you to show them that it's okay to continue, which you can do by asking basic questions like "how long have you known?" or "what made you decide to tell me?" We have a separate section in this FAQ where we list topics to avoid when asking questions that you may want to check out as well.

You may feel uncomfortable with or confused about your friend or family member's attractions or even betrayed that they didn't tell you sooner. This is both normal and expected, and it may take some time for you to fully come to terms with everything you're learning. Right now, however, all you need to do is be there for your friend or family member and listen to what they have to say.

Check In

Once they've had a chance to get everything off their chest, ask your friend or family member how they're feeling, both about coming out to you and about their attractions in general. If they're still stressed about telling you, reassure them that you want to support them in whatever way is best for them. If they're experiencing a lot of self-hate due to their attractions, they may benefit from additional support, so consider sharing our list of expert-backed support resources for MAPs. You can also help them find resources that aren't on our list, but keep in mind that resources containing stigmatized language or encouraging thought suppression are counterproductive and can, in some cases, actually increase a MAP's risk of offending.

Next Steps

After the conversation ends, take some time to process everything. Telling you about their attractions was probably one of the hardest things your friend or family member has ever done, so the fact that they felt comfortable doing so means they trust you deeply. If you have questions over the following days or weeks, consider doing some of your own research (the list of FAQs you're reading now and our research summary are good places to start). There's a lot of misinformation about minor attractions online, so be sure to use reliable sources such as peer-reviewed research. Keep your friend or family member updated on what you're learning, as this will allow them to help you find reliable sources and show them that you're willing to discuss the topic more if they're struggling with the feelings of isolation that can come with having such stigmatized attractions.

Based, in part, on this blog post.

What questions should I avoid asking my friend or family member?

Due to the stigma surrounding their attractions, MAPs are often expected to respond to misinformed, stigmatizing, or even disturbing questions. Such questions could be harmful to your relationship with your friend or family member who is a MAP, as they could make this person feel like you expect them to be dangerous or are looking for a reason to dislike them. To help you prevent this, we've listed some topics that you should avoid asking questions about below.

  1. What they find attractive about children

  2. Which specific children they find attractive

  3. Whether they've engaged in illegal activity

  4. Anything implying they chose their attractions

  5. Any moral assessment of their attractions

  6. Whether they're a victim of sexual abuse

What should I know about MAPs?

Misinformation about MAPs is very common, especially online, and even other MAPs can sometimes find it difficult to separate facts from stereotypes. To help you avoid holding any stigmatized beliefs that could be harmful to your relationship with your friend or family member, we've provided a list of facts below that corrects some of the most common misconceptions about MAPs. You can find all of our sources, as well as more detailed information about MAPs, on our research summary. Use our dictionary if you come across an unfamiliar term.

  1. The majority of MAPs never engage in sexual activity with a child

  2. Thoughtcrimes do not exist so being a MAP cannot be illegal

  3. There is no known method of changing a MAP's attractions

  4. A majority of MAPs are interested in seeking professional support

  5. Experts promote self-acceptance as the goal of treatment for MAPs

  6. Therapy can help MAPs overcome self-hate, but not all MAPs need it

  7. Experts consider peer support an important resource for MAPs

  8. Ensuring MAPs have access to support can reduce rates of CSA

  9. Some MAPs also experience some level of attraction to adults

  10. It is estimated that more than 1 in 3 MAPs experience suicidal thoughts

How can I help my friend or family member find support?

First and foremost, it's important to remember that not every MAP wants or needs help beyond their existing support network. The main benefit of dedicated support for MAPs is usually self-acceptance and overcoming mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, which can be caused by the stigma surrounding their attractions, so a MAP who's not struggling with any of these likely does not need additional support (although they may still be interested in support groups and other resources where they can find a community). If the MAP in your life is struggling with any of these issues, you may want to encourage them to seek support, but respect their decisions and don't push them to seek a level of support they're not ready to pursue. If this person is struggling and wants your help finding support, start by sharing our list of mental health resources with them, as it contains a variety of expert-backed support resources created for MAPs, including support groups, self-help tools, and referrals to safe therapists, as well as specific information for MAPs who are struggling with illegal content or concerned about acting on their attractions. We also have a separate page with resources for minor MAPs if the MAP you know is not an adult.

Resources