USA Today ran an article claiming that pedophiles are “misunderstood” and sometimes do not become abusers ahead of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is January 11, the article, titled “What the public keeps getting wrong about pedophilia,” was published the day before.
The piece was authored by Alia E. Dastagir, who covers topics like sexism, racism, media ethics and mental health.
“When most of the public thinks of pedophilia, they assume it’s synonymous with child sexual abuse, a pervasive social problem that has exploded to crisis levels online. Researchers who study pedophilia say the term describes an attraction, not an action, and using it interchangeably with ‘abuse’ fuels misperceptions,” Dastagir wrote.
She continued, “Not all people who sexually abuse children are pedophiles. Some pedophiles never abuse children, experts say, and some people who sexually abuse children do not sexually prefer them, but use them as a surrogate for an adult partner. They may be disinhibited and anti-social, with impulse control problems.”
The author went on to discuss the recent case of Allyn Walker, a former professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, who recently resigned after his desire to “destigmatize pedophilia” went viral. He also referred to pedophiles are “Minor Attracted Person,” a phrase commonly used by pedophiles online who often use anonymous accounts to find one another.
“There is growing support in the field for Walker’s point of view. While Cantor said there’s no treatment that can turn a pedophile into a non-pedophile, pedophiles can be taught self-control and compensatory strategies, which he said is more likely if they’re under the care of a professional. He argues that pedophiles need to be able to access therapy, which can be difficult since those afflicted may be ashamed to seek help or worried about being reported to the authorities if they do,” the USA Today article said in defense of the disgraced academic.
Survivor and advocate for human trafficking victims Eliza Bleu was quick to call out the timing of the article.
USA Today: “Tomorrow is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, so let’s run THIS.” pic.twitter.com/OWwnQr8Fnx
— Eliza (@elizableu) January 11, 2022
“Every year I look forward to January 11th! It’s National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. It’s an amazing day to educate and raise awareness about the crime of human trafficking. As a survivor of human trafficking, it’s incredible to stand in solidarity with my fellow survivors on this day. I take days like this to mourn those that we have lost to the crime at the hands of their abuser and to think deeply about ways that we can prevent the crime from happening in the first place,” Bleu told Timcast.
“I have been extra encouraged this year by the outpouring of love towards the survivor space around this important day. In search for corporate press articles to post on social media I saw the USA Today tweet about pedophila with attached article,” Bleu continued. “My heart is broken for survivors of child sex abuse and trauma, instead of the corporate press using today to stand in solidarity with survivors and offer resources, USA Today chose to tweet an article today posted yesterday seemingly trying to normalize pedophila.”
Bleu added, “As if this isn’t bad enough USA Today did post an article about National Human Trafficking Awareness Month today further gaslighting survivors.”
“Regardless of this disgusting display by the gaslighting corporate press survivors still deserve support on this day and everyday,” Bleu concluded, along with a link to the website for the Human Trafficking Hotline. “If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out.”