Frequently Asked Questions About Virtuous (Non-Abusing) Pedophiles

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Pedophilia is a strong and persistent sexual attraction to prepubescent children or those in the early stages of puberty. (Some scientists separate out attraction to children who have begun puberty under the separate term “hebephilia”.)

The word pedophile doesn’t imply someone has had sexual contact with children.


Many people with a sexual attraction to children never engage in sexual activity with children.

The organizers of Virtuous Pedophiles have never touched a child in a sexual way or groomed a child online.

We offer support to pedophiles who have the same track record, and, where we can, to those who have offenses in their past.

The acronym MAP stands for ‘minor attracted person’ and refers to a wider range of people than ‘pedophile’. MAPs include ephebophiles, hebephiles and nepiophiles.

The phrase was coined primarily because ‘pedophile’ has become a stigmatized term. The same is now happening to ‘MAP’.

We generally use the term ‘pedophile’ on our site as a better-established term, but we’re not against the term ‘MAP’, which is sometimes more accurate for some people.

The short answer is that no one knows.

Science can’t yet explain why people have the sexual preferences they have. The science of why some people are sexually attracted to children has been especially slow to make progress.

We do not think it matters much how people get these attractions. Nobody chooses to have pedophilia, and nobody has yet produced widely-accepted evidence that anyone knows how to make pedophilic preferences go away.

Terms such as mental illness and mental disorder are not precisely defined, and we doubt that they can be defined based on science alone.

We agree with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5 (the main reference for psychologists), which says that pedophilia is not a disorder unless it also causes marked distress to an individual or leads to sexual abuse of children.

Pedophilia is undesirable to the extent that it predisposes some people to sexually abuse children or to be unable to form rewarding adult relationships. It is undesirable to have a condition requiring lifelong celibacy, and we would not wish pedophilia on any child yet to be born.

But pedophiles continue to be born. That is a fact we cannot change.

If we don’t behave in a disorderly way, we should not have to think of ourselves as having a disorder. We did not choose pedophilia and we cannot make it go away.

We encourage non-abusing pedophiles to let go of feelings of shame and distress. If they are confident they can stay non-abusing, they do not have a disorder according to DSM-5.

One reason you should care is that it could be your child.

According to the best available evidence, most pedophiles first become aware of their condition in our early teens. We start like everyone else. We first become attracted to kids who are our own age. As we grow older, however, our attractions do not. Gradually we become aware of our condition.

Believing the popular wisdom that we are evil and will inevitably abuse children, many of us experience depression, self-loathing and sometimes become suicidal.

If you had a teenager who was unfortunate enough to have pedophilia, is that the kind of life that you would want for them?

Wouldn’t you rather that they understood that they can’t be evil simply because they have a sexual attraction that they didn’t choose and can’t change? Wouldn’t you want them to understand that they don’t have to act on that attraction, and that there are resources available to help them manage it and lead a happy, productive, law-abiding life?

Wouldn’t you want people to judge them based on the life they choose to live and not based on their having certain feelings? Wouldn’t you want them to accept and love themselves?

If your answers to these questions are yes, then you should hope something changes for us, even if you do not know (or do not think you know) anyone with pedophilia.

Pedophiles are often told to ‘get help.’

This usually means ‘get cured’. But most experts believe that there is no way of making an attraction to children go away, just as there is no way to turn straight people gay.

So ‘get help’ must mean something else. There are treatments available to help a pedophile manage the condition and remain law-abiding (while some pedophiles don’t feel the need for any sort of professional help).

Talk therapies can be very effective in giving pedophiles a chance to think about their relationship with their attraction and in helping them to lead a rewarding life. A great many pedophiles do benefit from this sort of therapy, when they can find a willing therapist that they have the freedom and funds to see regularly.

Where pedophiles do have a high risk level for offending, or have offended, therapies include drugs such as leuprolide acetate. These block the effects of testosterone and drastically reduce sex drive.

The SSRI antidepressants also work for some pedophiles struggling with their desires. Some pedophiles who use these drugs report good results, enabling them to live substantially better lives. Others report that the drugs are either ineffective or have negative side effects.

The vast majority of virtuous pedophiles we know simply don’t need these kinds of drugs to curb our desires. You can find out more about getting help in our support and therapy page .

A lot do seek treatment, even taking a lot of risks, spending a lot of money and making a lot of sacrifices to get it.

But for the many who don’t get help, there are two main reasons.

Many jurisdictions have laws that require therapists to report people who are attracted to children if the therapist believes that a child is in danger. The laws are vague, and pedophiles fear that therapists will consider us to be dangerous and report us. Even if we are cleared, the consequences of the police investigation can be devastating—being outed can result in loss of family, friends and career.

Second, the stigma attached to pedophilia is very strong, and therapists are not immune to it. Even to many therapists, ‘pedophile’ is a dirty word. We often fear that therapists will view us as criminals, even if we haven’t done anything, that they will not believe that we are responsible adults who are capable of resisting our sex drives, and that they will deal with us just as potential sex offenders rather than as clients with painful life problems.

If a pedophile wants help, society should make sure they can get it. This is important if a pedophile presents a risk to children, but also important if they don’t.

In Germany, the Dunkelfeld project is open to those who have not broken the law, and in the United Kingdom there is a program known as StopSO. Globally, the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) has become more welcoming of non-offending pedophiles. Since these programmes launched, a handful more have launched in other countries, including the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, France, Spain, and Maharashtra province in India. The vast majority of countries in the world have no such programs.

Mandatory reporter laws need to be carefully examined to understand their potential unintended consequences.

On the one hand, they are vital in helping to protect children from abuse, but they can create reports based on an idea that any pedophile will be a risk to any child they know; there is not much standardized guidance on how to assess these risks realistically.