Understanding minor attracted persons
Collins, Carisa M.
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Minor attracted persons (MAPs) are a group of understudied individuals who acknowledge a sexual interest in children but who may never have offended against a child. They are often regarded the same as individuals who have sexually offended against children, regardless of their history of personal stance on adult/child sexual relationships. This means they experience significant stigma and face many barriers to accessing mental health treatment. This dissertation provides an exploratory analysis of the lived experiences of MAPs from 3 different perspectives. Study 1 is a qualitative analysis of online support forums for MAPs, examining offense avoidance strategies they use when in a position where they believe they could engage in a relationship with a child. Study 2 used mixed methods to look at how MAPs differed from non-MAPs on several mental health treatment targets and potential criminogenic needs, as well as their help-seeking experiences. Study 3 also used mixed methods, examining psychological professionals’ stereotyped beliefs toward MAPs and their experiences and opinions about providing treatment to them. Overall, MAPs tend to prefer avoidance techniques when they feel they are presented with a potentially risky situation, using such strategies as complete avoidance or the use of a buddy system. In addition, they experience significantly more hopelessness and loneliness than non-MAPs, and less respect for authority. Though they have not had many positive therapeutic experiences, psychological professionals in my study mostly indicated a willingness to provide them with treatment predominantly through a cognitive behavioural therapy lens. Implications for treatment, public perception, and prevention are discussed.