Research Summary Archive
Our Research page has moved. This is a partial archive of the old version.
Are pedophiles a danger to children?
Society and the media often use the terms "pedophile" and "child abuser" interchangeably, causing many to believe that most or all pedophiles are child abusers and that most or all people who commit sexual offenses against children are pedophiles. Neither of these beliefs, however, is an accurate reflection of reality. Pedophilia and other minor attractions are simply attractions, and like most people who experience attractions, the majority (up to 85%) of pedophiles do not commit sexual offenses. Additionally, studies have consistently found that a minority (potentially as few as a quarter) of people who commit sexual offenses against children are pedophiles.
Learn about the impact of stigma on rates of abuse in our blog post.
What challenges do minor-attracted people face?
Due to the prevalence of misinformation about MAPs (most notably the conflation of pedophilia with child abuse), minor-attracted individuals are subjected to extremely high levels of stigma. This can come from peers, family members, and even the media, and often becomes internalized, taking a severe toll on MAPs' mental health. Over 1 in 3 MAPs experience suicidal thoughts, and young MAPs are particularly vulnerable, as the most common age for a MAP to first attempt suicide is just 14 years old.
This stigma even impacts the interactions between MAPs and mental health professionals. A majority of MAPs are interested in seeking some form of professional support, but many are unwilling to do so for fear of being misunderstood and further stigmatized by therapists and other professionals. These fears are not unfounded, as studies have shown that nearly a quarter of mental health professionals would report a MAP who had never offended and did not want to under mandatory reporting laws. In extreme cases, MAPs may even be subjected to conversion therapy, which is known to be ineffective and incredibly harmful. These risks serve as yet another factor preventing MAPs from seeking support, even for issues unrelated to their attractions.
Despite the fact that MAP activism reduces the risk of CSA, many social media platforms have decided to prioritize the PR hassle of "you allow pedophiles on your site!" over the wellbeing of children and ban MAPs and MAP activism. Some have taken this a step further, banning support groups and even medical professionals who try to share factual information about MAPs. This makes it harder for MAPs to find others like them and support resources, increasing the risk of mental health issues, including suicidal thoughts, in a community that is already at a higher risk due to the stigma surrounding their attractions.