In this thesis, I examined the experiences of nine adult men who are primarily attracted to minors. Specifically, I explored

  • identity formation,
  • disclosure, and
  • methods of coping with stigma.

I also considered what role minor-attracted people may play in our society, and how they might achieve success and happiness. I situated the experiences of my participants within a broader social context by examining

  • relevant academic literature,
  • Canadian laws, the pedophile panic, and
  • dominant cultural attitudes.

Informed by the sociological tradition of identity studies, and utilizing a qualitative research approach, I uncovered important information about minor-attracted people and offered insight into their situation.
This Conclusion reviews the main themes of this thesis, presents suggestions for future research, and offers guidance to policy-makers who may wish to make informed decisions about future policy initiatives concerning adult sexual attraction to minors.

Spoiled Identity and the Resilience of Minor-Attracted People

At its heart, this thesis is an investigation of spoiled identity - the condition of possessing a stigma so great that should it become known to others, the bearer is discredited by the rest of society (Goffman, 1963). Minor-attracted people bear such a stigma. Even if they never act upon their sexual desires, minor-attracted people are at  risk of experiencing verbal and physical abuse, being fired, and losing their relationships with friends and family (Goode, 2010).

We, as a culture, want minor-attracted people to go away. However, they cannot simply vanish from existence. There is no cure for primary attraction to minors

  • (see Camilleri & Quinsey, 2008; Howitt, 1995),

and it is unrealistic to expect minor-attracted people to engage in self-imposed isolation.
Furthermore, attraction to minors is present to a great extent even in men who are preferentially attracted to adults, indicating that minor-attraction among adult men exists on a continuum, rather than as a dichotomy.

Ignoring minor-attracted people or wishing them away is not an effective response – there are simply too many of them (Goode, 2010). Not only is this approach ineffective, it is unjust. Why should they be shunned simply for possessing a sexuality that differs from the status quo? Members of our society regularly pride themselves on their respect of diversity, yet do little to offer support to minor-attracted people.

In this thesis, I highlighted the effect that social customs regarding sexuality have on minor-attracted people. I demonstrated that these norms leave them with few avenues for achieving acceptance from society at large, and limited options for experiencing sexual fulfilment. The stigma placed upon them by mainstream society results in many minor-attracted people feeling unwelcome and uncertain about how to form meaningful social connections with others.

My interview data also illuminate the degree to which my participants are aware of their difference from other people, as well as the degree to which they experience alienation and frustration. They struggle with

  • stress,
  • anxiety,
  • depression, and
  • isolation,

all of which have significant implications for their overall well-being and mental health. Many of them are suffering in silence, afraid to seek out counselling due to fears of being reported to the police for admitting to deviant sexual desires. My participants are afraid of disclosing their identities to many of their friends and family members; and they feel angry, sad, and frustrated about stereotypes portraying them as dangerous, perverted, or criminal.

Despite the incredible hardships they face, my interviews revealed that minor-attracted people adapt and cope with stigma in a variety of ways which help them to develop a positive self-image and live a happy life. These strategies include

  • talking to other people about their identities,
  • seeking positive messages about their sexual desires,
  • focusing on the special skills and traits their sexual identity affords them,
  • forming supportive communities,
  • sharing their experiences with researchers, and
  • employing the assistance of mental health professionals.

Though much of what I reported in this thesis is disheartening, I also uncovered data that speak to the promise of a more hospitable future for minor-attracted people. Only one of my participants lost a friendship after disclosing his sexuality. The men I interviewed were able to maintain positive relationships with other people after disclosure.
Furthermore, it appears that minor-attracted people are capable of employing effective coping strategies without the assistance of mainstream society. Specifically, they seek out others like them and form supportive communities both on the Internet and in person. Drawing on support and guidance from a larger group affords them opportunities to combat the isolation and frustration they experience in everyday life.

Recommendations for Improving the Situation Facing Minor-Attracted People

As Goode (2010) stresses, minor-attracted people exist in all sectors of our society, and we need to try harder to develop realistic, practical strategies for fostering positive relationships between those who are primarily attracted to minors and those who are not. My interview data point to the successes my participants achieve as well as the challenges they face.
These findings can be used to formulate suggestions for changes to public policy that could result in more effective ways of relating to minor-attracted people and providing them with support.
In addition to changes at the level of government, members of the general public can easily contribute to positive social change without a great deal of effort. Keeping an open mind and treating others with dignity, empathy, and compassion are necessary for the kind of social justice I envision.

Drawing on the findings of this thesis, I have formulated eight recommendations that will result in improved quality of life for minor-attracted people, and more productive interactions between minor-attracted people and other members of society. My recommendations are as follows:

1. Empathize with Minor-Attracted People

In order to offer support to minor-attracted people, we must endeavour to understand their situation. This process of understanding requires further research into what their needs are, but it also demands empathy. Unfortunately, many people struggle to empathize with those who are minor-attracted.
On several occasions, I have asked my peers to imagine what it would be like to be a minor-attracted person. When confronted with this hypothetical scenario, many reflect on how they might feel if they could not pursue relationships with their preferred sexual partners. The straight men I talk to envision living as a conventionally unattractive heterosexual man who is unable to attract a woman partner.
This attempt at empathy is sincere, but it will not suffice, as there are very important differences between someone who cannot attract a partner and a minor-attracted person.

First, the desires of minor-attracted people are widely regarded as strange, sick, and disgusting, whereas a straight man's interest in women is perceived as normal. Even though he is unable to attract a partner, the conventionally unappealing straight man's desires are, at least, socially acceptable in and of themselves. Such a man would likely elicit sympathy and understanding from others.

This hypothetical person could complain to his friends about his life of celibacy. He could talk about his celebrity crushes openly, or point out a pretty woman walking down the street. He can legally access pornography that suits his tastes. Most importantly, he would not be negatively judged for any of these actions. In stark contrast, were a minor-attracted person to participate in any of these activities, he may be jailed, institutionalized, or urged to seek medical treatment.

It is critical to bear in mind that not only are minor-attracted people restricted from pursuing relationships with their preferred choice of partner, but they are demonized for their very desires. Living as a minor-attracted person often means living with fear, anxiety, and depression. Embodying this marginalized sexual identity may result in discrimination, isolation, and emotional and physical abuse. Imagining what life must be like for minor-attracted people may be a useful tool for both understanding them and
figuring out how to assist them.

2. Distribute a Help Guide for Minor-Attracted People

Mental health professionals and sex researchers should collaborate to create a help guide for minor-attracted people. Many minor-attracted people do not know what to do when they begin to recognize the nature of their sexuality. A help guide that focuses on what to do, how to cope, and where to turn for support could be extremely beneficial for minor-attracted people. This help guide should be published on the Internet, and made available in sexual health clinics and institutions that provide mental health services. [*]

[* Ipce has published such a guide on
< > - Ipce]

3. Create Access to Mental Health Services

Like Goode (2010), I argue that improved access to mental health services should be provided to people who are primarily attracted to minors. Goode maintains that providing this resource could lead to a reduction in cases of child abuse. While I acknowledge that some minor-attracted people may be at risk of abusing children, and that therapy could certainly be beneficial for such individuals, it is extremely important to emphasize that minor-attracted people should not be considered a risk to children simply because they are attracted to them.

I argue that access to mental health services should be available for a variety of reasons, including the prevention of suicide, and the treatment of depression and anxiety. Minor-attracted people face enormous social challenges which may negatively impact their mental health, and providing counselling could offer them much-needed support.

4. Provide Specialized Training for Mental Health Professionals

Minor-attracted people face unique challenges, and mental health professionals require specialized training for helping their minor-attracted clients in a compassionate, non-judgmental manner. It is important that mental health professionals receive adequate education about minor-attraction, and the social implications of living with these desires.
In particular, mental health professionals should understand that

  • minor-attraction is not a fetish.
  • Attraction to minors is not caused by childhood sexual abuse,
  • nor does it result from a fear of forming relationships with adults (Cantor, 2012).
  • Minor-attraction does not arise out of nostalgia for one's first relationship as an adolescent,
  • nor is it about trying to capture a feeling of being innocent or care-free.

Mental health professionals may be the first avenue that minor-attracted people turn to for support, and therefore it is essential that these professionals be properly equipped to provide help.

5. Support Opportunities for Minor-Attracted People to Experience Sexual Fulfillment

Again, like Goode (2010), I recommend that minor-attracted people be encouraged to pursue sexual gratification in ways that do not involve actual children, because I do not encourage minor-attracted people to break the law. If they wish to see the laws changed, I argue that they should advocate for such changes in a legal manner rather than ignore or defy them. As such, I urge minor-attracted people to consider the ways that they can achieve some measure of sexual fulfillment without a minor partner.

Pursuing relationships with adults could be an option for those minor-attracted people who are able to derive pleasure from sexual interactions with adults. Pornographic material that does not involve actual minors should also be available as a sexual outlet, which means that some laws may need to be re-examined. Current Canadian laws are highly restrictive in the sense that all material depicting sexual scenarios involving minors below the age of eighteen are illegal, even if those depictions are mere writings (i.e. erotic stories) or drawings (i.e. anime cartoon pornography).
The rationale behind such legislation is that depictions of sexual activity involving minors (even fictional ones) encourage the viewers of such material to pursue actual interactions with minors. As noted in Chapter 5, several studies provide evidence to the contrary, their authors reporting that viewing child pornography does not result in  seeking out sexual encounters with minors

  • (see Diamond & Uchiyama, 1999; Endrass et al., 2009).

6. Improve Sexual Health Education in Primary and Secondary Schools

Both Goode (2010) and I found that minor-attracted people start to become aware of their sexuality in their teenage years, or even earlier. Reaching out to young people during this period of self-discovery could potentially avert mental health problems later in life. Minor-attracted youth should be reassured that they are not bad people for having sexual desires that fall outside the norm, and they should be encouraged to seek whatever support they might need.

7. Provide Resources to Loved Ones of Minor-Attracted People

Resources should be made available to the loved ones of minor-attracted people.
These resources could take the form of educational websites and pamphlets. A guide
created specifically for those who know minor-attracted people could help teach them how to support the minor-attracted person in their lives. This guide could also offer support for how to cope with their own feelings of surprise, confusion, or anxiety. In addition to a help guide being published on a website and in pamphlets, loved ones of minor-attracted people should be encouraged to discuss their situation with trained mental health professionals. Doctors, counsellors, and crisis line volunteers should be sources of support for those seeking more information, or assistance in coping with their feelings.

8. Protect the Rights of Minor-Attracted People

Everybody should enjoy the same rights with respect to employment, freedom from harm, and the right to freedom of speech. Minor-attracted people should not experience discrimination as a result of their sexual identities. People who are attracted to minors should feel comfortable turning to the police if they have been victims of violence, threats, or blackmail. They should also be supported by anti-discrimination bodies, such as the Human Rights Tribunal, to ensure that they are not fired from their jobs as a result of their sexual identities. Minor-attracted people should expect and be entitled to receive the same treatment as any other person with any other sexual identity.

Suggestions for Future Research

As chronicled in Chapter 1 of this thesis, there is a large body of research on minor-attraction or “pedophilia.” Unfortunately, most of this research draws on criminal or clinical populations, despite the fact that there are many minor-attracted people living within the general population who are not criminals and who are not involved in the mental health system (Goode, 2010; Wilson & Cox, 1983).

Researchers should endeavour to reach the population of non-criminal, non-clinical minor-attracted people in order to better understand the lives and experiences of these people. Both large-scale quantitative investigations and participant-centred qualitative studies are necessary in order to produce a balanced picture of this population. In particular, future researchers should attempt to recruit large samples for their studies in order to gather data which can be generalized to the minor-attracted population as a whole.

In addition to the dearth of research on non-clinical, non-forensic populations of minor-attracted people, the lack of women's perspectives is a major gap in the research on minor-attracted adults. We know that there are women who are primarily attracted to minors (see Kanalratten, 1992); however, little is known about them. My study is a case in point; while it was open to women participants, I only received responses from men.

Researchers on minor-attraction should therefore make a determined effort to include female research participants in order to capture a wider scope of information about this population and their experiences. A more innovative approach may be necessary – simply being “open” to women participants does not appear to be an adequate means of recruiting them for research studies of this kind.


In the introduction to this thesis, I pondered what I would do if I found myself primarily attracted to children, and I expressed pity for anybody in this situation. Over the course of this work, I have come to realize that minor-attracted people do not need pity – they require compassionate understanding of their many positive attributes, as well as acknowledgement of their essential humanity. My participants demonstrate incredible strength of character as they grapple with their stigmatized identities. The ingenuity and courage they deploy in the face of remarkable challenges highlight the resilience of minor-attracted people.

This thesis has emphasized that minor-attracted people are found in all sectors of our society – they could be anybody. They are our friends, spouses, family members, and co-workers. Imagining that minor-attracted people are evil monsters lurking in the bushes, waiting to snatch little children walking home from school, is a stark departure from the reality, which is that minor-attracted people live amongst us in great numbers as members of our communities. We urgently need to implement strategies that will alleviate the suffering of minor-attracted people and end discrimination against them.

[References will follow - Ipce]