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Fences Make Good Neighbors #2: The Harshest Terms

I’d like to thank everyone who responded to my last essay and offered their own thoughts and considerations on reasonable limits for MAPs. The general consensus from those comments was that restricting unsupervised time with children was the best course of action. As I noted in the comments, I tend to agree with that sentiment and make it a general rule for how I interact with minors.

While I agreed with the suggestion that was offered, I was also surprised. I know for a fact that far more options are on the table where MAPs are concerned because in the past five months I’ve experienced a wide range of reactions. Many of those are helpful. Some of them are not. So, I’m going to spend the next couple of essays exploring some of the different fences that I’ve seen erected because of my status as a MAP and analyze their impact on my life and how they’d affect MAPs in general.

For this essay, I’m going to start with what is by far the strictest rule I’ve encountered: no interaction with children whatsoever. By this stipulation, I have no contact with children under any circumstances. I am not even allowed in the same room, regardless of who else is present. I am simply forbidden from any and all activity that allows me any kind of personal interaction with them.

I’ve encountered this restriction twice, once from a couple and once from a church. In both cases, I have abided by their wishes. I entered this journey with the knowledge that people’s acceptance of MAPs will require both education and patience. In light of that, I’m trying to be as accommodating as I can.

For the couple who asked this, it has basically meant that they and I have no contact beyond intermittent, necessary exchanges. I acknowledge that some of this is on me. I have known this family for years, had frequent contact with their children, and shared a close relationship with them all prior to this. Though I realized that some adjustment might be necessary, I honestly didn’t expect to get cut off by people I knew so well.

In the case of the church, it was a different matter entirely. I knew a few people in the church but had no relationship with most of the people there. However, once I made my situation known, the leadership decided that the risk I presented was not one they were ready for. They wanted to ensure that I was no danger to any of their members but realized that they had no means of preventing me from being around children. After discussion among their ministers, they decided that I should look for a place that was better equipped to serve me.

On the one hand, I do understand these reactions. Trying to alter any view is a difficult process, and the idea that all minor-attraction people are sexual abusers is one that is ingrained deeply in our societal conscious. Additionally, since children are involved, there’s an extra layer of terror buried in the situation. This is why I am willing to agree that some restrictions are prudent.

On the other hand, this particular reaction risks going too far. While it does protect the children from me specifically it also implies that I am so dangerous that I cannot be trusted under any circumstances. If this is true, then quarantine becomes the only reasonable option: to insure I harm no one, I should never leave my house again.

There’s trouble in that path, however. If I am to become a pariah, then being closeted can only be seen as freedom while being out carries a very real risk of ostracism.

If the ultimate goal is to keep MAPs hiding, then a restriction that forbids all access to kids will accomplish it. Although, if we’re honest, this is not a dramatic change from the world we live in. Society at large is hostile and hateful to minor-attracted people, even those who have done nothing wrong, and there’s little reason now to self-identify.

And maybe some people are okay with that. Maybe they believe that the risk MAPs pose is something that must be dealt with harshly and the concerns of the MAPs involved are secondary. Even if this is the case, though, the consequences of this rule bear further examination.

Getting MAPs to self-identify (at least to someone they trust) is, I believe, for the best. MAPs who are living in secret and isolation are not receiving help and support. Some of these MAPs will be fine. These will find the inner fortitude to push through and not only resist their desires but will thrive as human beings and grow into productive individuals. There will be others, though, who stumble and fall as they journey alone.

Some of these who falter will end up abusing children. This, to me, is one of the primary reasons we should be reaching out to help MAPs. Doing so provides support to potential abusers before the abuse happens and has a real chance of reducing the number of children harmed. I’m not the only one who believes this. Check out the Moore Center for Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse for one organization following this approach.

That’s not the only reason to embrace MAPs, though. Even if a closeted MAP never ends up hurting a child, chances are good that he is still struggling. One of the sad facts here is that people who are minor-attracted show a higher-than-normal rate of mental illness, particularly depression and anxiety. Living a life couched in secrecy only heightens these problems since one of the root causes of these ailments cannot be addressed.

Trapping MAPs in a world where they dare not speak out is a fate that is likely, literally, to kill them. We don’t have numbers for suicide by minor-attracted people, but I’m certain they’re higher than the general population. I know this because I’ve walked that line myself. I’ve sat and planned out my own end because I feared what I might become. In the end, I didn’t go through with it. The bigger question, though, is how many MAPs have, and we never knew?

This is why our rules must walk a delicate balance. If there are no barriers, then it opens up our children to abuse due to negligence. If the strictures are too smothering, though, we end up exactly where we are now: a society where nonoffending MAPs are too scared to get the help they need, both for their own sake and the sake of others.

Maintaining the status quo isn’t helping us. If we can create a world where MAPs are comfortable identifying, then restrictions like the ones proposed last week can be reasonably be enacted, providing a buffer between MAPs and children. As long as MAPs are hidden, however, no strictures—regardless of how stringent—will have any impact on them. All the rules in the world will not avail us if they cannot be enforced.