Why MAPs?

MAPs = Minor Attracted Persons

This may feel uncomfortable to most people but the word pedophile is not a pretty one. It’s used to harm, dehumanize and most commonly to stigmatize. At its root, it describes a desire. It does not specify if one is a child molester. So let’s maybe agree on this right? 

Pedophilic disorder is listed as a brain dysfunction in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). 

Let’s think about other mental disorders or terms listed in there: autism, schizophrenia and fetal alcohol syndrome. Would you use those terms to try and harm, belittle or lower someone’s character? “Pedophile” is used everyday to attack character, suggest behaviour and more importantly stigmatize. In reality, the word is not helpful in society. It may describe a desire scientifically but in real-world use, if someone truly suffers from pedophilic disorder (a mental disorder) having this disorder doesn’t mean a child has been harmed. Sure, every time someone hears about the word, it’s used to describe horrific cases in the media. It’s used by creep-catching groups and those who don’t want to educate themselves on what it actually means. 

In reality, using the word pedophile may be extremely harmful. It can be harmful not only to the people who suffer from the mental disorder but also harmful to kids. For most, this is where you’ll stop reading, because you’ve come to the conclusion prematurely that just because we want to transition away from using a word, you suspect we’re here to protect the interests of child molesters. This couldn’t be further from the truth. DO NOT MISCONSTRUE THESE WORDS HERE. The word pedophile isn’t ‘child molestor’ and shouldn’t be conflated with child sexual abuse. They aren’t the same. We want to use the term MAPs instead of pedophile when describing people with this mental disorder because it may contribute to minors being harmed. MAPs is simply more accurate as well. Pedophile is an umbrella term used by some to describe all types of attraction to children when it may not be the most accurate term scientifically (ie. the term hebephile is an attraction to pubescent children).

Let’s do a thought experiment: you’ve used this word pedophile often in your everyday life and someone around you, someone you love (an estimated 1-5% of the population suffers with pedophilia) has heard you talk about this. Now they haven’t harmed anyone. They haven’t sought out or downloaded CSAM and they haven’t touched a child for a sexual purpose, but they struggle. Every. Single. Day. They know what will happen if you were to find out. You may not report them to authorities but you just wouldn’t look at them in the same way. If this person in your life, someone you loved, went to go to a therapist or a doctor to get help for their mental disorder, guess what likely would happen? Mandatory reporting. They likely now won’t get help and push all this deep down. They struggle and suffer from this mental disorder and can’t tell anyone. They (your loved one in this thought experiment) walk a tightrope on this journey of theirs, trying NOT to offend, but just one day, they might. That will be the day that WE AS SOCIETY, failed them. You see, just because someone has these desires doesn’t mean that they have offended or will offend against a child. It’s resolved with the mental health industry that this will likely be something this person (your loved one) deals with for the rest of their life. With support and the right tools, we CAN HELP TO PREVENT THEM from offending. That’s our purpose. To reduce risk for children and vulnerable people online. Just think about Amanda Todd and the countless other people who have experienced harm and tragic loss as a result of being harmed by people suffering from this mental disorder. 

We can support those who are not offending (NoMAPs) AND still provide education, support and resources for those looking to reduce risks for themselves or their loved ones online. We strongly believe that by supporting MAPs, this supports children’s safety online and our mission. Most of the 150+ volunteers working with our organization from more than 20 countries have experienced online harm in some fashion. Including this writer. My child at age 11 was groomed on Instagram and was eventually sexually assaulted by an adult (someone whom she communicated with using Instagram). This has been a hard journey for all us getting to this point, but we know it’s the right pathway. In the coming weeks, you will start to see resources available here on this website for MAPs including a virtual support group we’re developing right now. In the United States in 2021, there was $5.4B spent on housing people in jail that have harmed children and only $1.5M spent on prevention. Does this make sense to you? To compound the issue, an estimated 40-60% of sex crimes against children were committed by people with no attraction to children. Sexual harms against children can be prevented. Isn’t that what you want? We know we can prevent harm. We’re working on this and we need your support. Just one little thing: please don’t make our job harder by using words meant to suppress and harm people suffering from mental disorders. 

By using this term or by developing or creating programming for MAPs, in NO WAY do we support, accept or condone child sex abuse in fact to be a participant of our support group, all MAPs will need to obey all laws as will we. 

Page from DSM-V regarding pedophilic disorder
Educate. Advocate. Protect.