Without government funding, most of today’s irrational and untenable concepts would never get off the ground. Here’s yet another example of where government subsidies – in this case, by the state of Maryland – fund something that would likely never see the light of day in a world with no government funding for anything (aside from police, military and the courts).
On March 10, 2016, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation aired a documentary titled “I, Pedophile” (by Matthew Campea and Cogent Benger Productions, Inc.) that makes a false and damaging claim about B4U-ACT, which advocates for ethical and compassionate mental health services for minor-attracted people. The documentary, in reference to B4U-ACT, shows the following text on the screen: “Many of its members have been known to pursue sexual contact with children.” This statement is completely false. B4U-ACT does not endorse or support any activity with children that is illegal or harmful to them in any way.
B4U-ACT has been advocating for access to mental health support services for minor-attracted individuals since 2003. The charity has done this through providing educational workshops, facilitating support groups, and by building relationships with therapists, social workers, academics, researchers, journalists, and members of the general community. B4U-ACT is proud to have received funding from both the state of Maryland and private donors in order to carry out the charity’s important work of helping the extremely under-served population of individuals who identify as having a primary attraction to children and/or adolescents.
B4U-ACT will continue to work toward the goal of ensuring that there are accessible mental health services for minor-attracted persons, and will endeavor to thrive in spite of any misinformation or attacks made against it, as these mental health services are so desperately needed in Maryland and around the world. [Source: “B4U-ACT Responds to False Claim in ‘I, Pedophile’ Documentary”]
Mental health professionals themselves are now spreading the false idea that psychotherapy or “mental health services” can turn people into something they do not wish to be – as long as there’s enough government funding to finance it.
Child abuse and child molestation are not victimless crimes. Things like drug or alcohol abuse usually are, except in cases where people can be physically harmed (as in drunk driving). It’s asking the logically impossible of mental health professionals to provide, on the one hand, “ethical and compassionate mental health services for minor-attracted people [i.e., pedophiles],” and at the same time ensure that appropriate authorities are informed when a person poses an imminent risk to a minor child whose individual rights could be violated by a child molester.
It’s one thing for a therapist to help a person stay off drugs or alcohol. Even if the drugs abused by the therapy client are illegal, the therapist has no obligation to tell the police of the client’s illegal drug use (aside from court-ordered referrals). However, if the client is actively considering molesting a child, it’s an entirely different story. Therapists have to use their judgment in determining whether a child is at risk for abuse by a client who’s attracted to minors. This interferes with the therapeutic process, as the therapist becomes part police officer and part counselor, turning the “therapy” into an awkward game at best.
I’m not suggesting that psychology should never study or address the subject of sexual attraction to minors. However, to use state funding to finance such questionable or untenable therapy is absurd. If there are people who believe they really have treatment or therapy approaches to actually cause people who are attracted to minor children to stop sexually molesting them, then these treatment providers should be required to prove it. If they successfully do so, there will be no problem obtaining such funds voluntarily. Of course, they cannot prove that, and that’s why they so desperately seek government funds in Maryland and no doubt elsewhere.
It’s highly questionable that most, or even any, “minor-attracted” persons want to change their sexual orientation. Let’s face it. Attraction to children is a sexual orientation. It’s a tragic one, both for the actual/potential victims as well as for the perpetrator. If therapists have really discovered ways to alter or eradicate one’s sexual orientation in this area, that’s huge news. The government, which has a legitimate role to play in protecting the individual rights of minors, should not get into the therapy business; government can only apprehend and punish offenders, through due process of law.
During my mental health education internship, I worked in a state criminal psychiatric facility where I had a conversation with a social worker in the child molestation unit. I asked her if there was ever any progress with these patients who had been convicted of molesting children, not just in isolated cases but as a way of life. She said, frankly, “No. Sexuality is just too self-reinforcing. The more you’re attracted to something and fantasize about it, the harder it is to change. Some of the patients regret their behavior, but deep down they’re unwilling and perhaps unable to change their response.”
Political correctness is so full of holes and contradictions. It’s politically correct to start talking of “minor-attracted” persons who need copious government funds heaped upon them to ensure that they stop their behaviors and completely eradicate their desires. Yet if you demanded government funds to humanely and compassionately help people alter their homosexual or transgender inclination, you’d be driven out of town (or even prosecuted, in some places).
I’m not suggesting that people can change their homosexual orientation. There’s no evidence for or reason to believe that that can be done. And in my 30 years of experience, there’s no point in trying. You can live a happy, fulfilled and benevolent life by accepting your homosexual orientation, while you cannot ever be happy in a world where your desire to molest children can never be acceptable.
It’s naïve to think that people with a deeply internalized response leading them to want sex with children actually wish to change that response. I have no objection to such a person trying with a therapist. But the government has to stay out of it.
Follow Dr. Hurd on Facebook. Search under “Michael Hurd” (Rehoboth Beach DE). Get up-to-the-minute postings, recommended articles and links, and engage in back-and-forth discussion with Dr. Hurd on topics of interest. Also follow Dr. Hurd on Twitter at @MichaelJHurd1