Allyn Walker says attraction to children isn’t immoral

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Allyn Walker says attraction to children isn't immoral

An assistant professor at a Virginia university is taking heat for saying it isn’t necessarily immoral for adults to be sexually attracted to children — prompting college officials to put out a statement clarifying the claim.

Allyn Walker, who teaches sociology and criminal justice at Old Dominion University, made the controversial comment while discussing “minor-attracted persons” and pedophiles during a Nov. 8 interview with the Prostasia Foundation, a San Francisco-based child protection organization.

Walker was discussing their book, “A Long Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity,” when he insisted it’s important to use that terminology instead of “pedophile” because it’s less stigmatizing.

“A lot of people when they hear the term ‘pedophile,’ they automatically assume that it means a sex offender, and that isn’t true,” Walker said during the 28-minute interview. “And it leads to a lot of misconceptions about attractions towards minors.”

Walker acknowledged use of term “minor-attracted persons” — or MAPs — suggests to some that it’s OK to be attracted to children, but said labeling anyone wholly by their sexual desires doesn’t indicate anything about their morality.

The Long Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity.
Allyn Walker’s book discusses using the term “minor-attracted persons” instead of “pedophile” because it is less stigmatizing.
Amazon

“From my perspective, there is no morality or immorality attached to attraction to anyone because no one can control who they’re attracted to at all,” Walker said. “In other words, it’s not who we’re attracted to that’s either OK or not OK. It’s our behaviors in responding to that attraction that are either OK or not OK.”

Walker said child sex abuse is “never, ever OK,” but that having sexual urges toward children isn’t necessarily wrong — as long as those carnal desires aren’t acted upon.

“We have a tendency to want to categorize people with these attractions as evil or morally corrupt,” Walker continued. “But when we’re talking about non-offending MAPs, these are people who have an attraction they didn’t ask for.”

Walker said non-offending MAPs by definition do not sexually abuse children, thus making their behavior clearly distinct from that of pedophiles.

“So, their behaviors are moral,” Walker said. “But they’re still being subjected to this same idea that they’re bad people and they’ve often internalized that for themselves.”

Walker caused blowback online after being shared on Twitter as someone trying to “normalize” adults who are attracted to juveniles. The assistant professor also put out a joint statement Saturday with Old Dominion University clarifying the remarks.

“I want to be clear: child sexual abuse is an inexcusable crime,” Walker said. “As an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice, the goal of my research is to prevent crime.”

Walker said the views shared during the interviews followed experience and advocacy as a social worker counseling victims of sexual violence.

“I embarked on this research in hopes of gaining understanding of a group that, previously, has not been studied in order to identify ways to protect children,” Walker continued.

But ODU officials distanced themselves from Walker’s take.

“Following recent social media activity and direct outreach to the institution, it is important to share that Old Dominion, as a caring and inclusive community, does not endorse or promote crimes against children or any form of criminal activity,” ODU’s statement read.

Old Dominion University.
“Old Dominion, as a caring and inclusive community, does not endorse or promote crimes against children or any form of criminal activity,” an official statement from the university read.
John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

Walker, who did not immediately return a message seeking further comment by The Post, has taught at Old Dominion since 2019, WTKR reported.

Some students at the public university in Norfolk, meanwhile, said they were disturbed by Walker’s comments.

“Honestly, it just sounds gross,” student Jaelan Jackson told WTKR. “Just because you’re not acting on it, to acknowledge it is weird and not OK at all. It feels uncomfortable to know that someone’s like that on campus.”

A Change.org petition signed by more than 1,600 people as of Monday called on ODU to oust Walker.

“Dr. Walker uses the term ‘MAP,’ which is an umbrella term for minor attracted persons,” the petition reads. “We want to be clear that this is pedophilia and should not be considered a sexual preference. Being that they teach in the sociology and criminal justice department makes us worried their views will effect the next generation in a negative way.”

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