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Professor urges treatment for pedophilia

10-6-2014 National:

IT'S NOT A CRIME to be a pedophile.

Swallow that sentence and let it mingle with the stomach acid before you grab the pitchforks and head down to the comment section, because an assistant professor at Rutgers School of Law in Camden says that it's true and that pedophilia needs to be treated as the mental disorder it is.

It's important to know what Margo Kaplan wasn't saying, however, in her Sunday New York Times op-ed "Pedophilia: A Disorder, Not a Crime."

"I'm not saying that we should decriminalize child molestation. I think people who are sexually assaulting children are making a choice," Kaplan said yesterday from her office in Camden. "People who are sexually attracted to children did not choose to be sexually attracted to children."

Pedophilia is a mental disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but it isn't recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act, Kaplan said.

"If you have bipolar disorder, you can't be fired for bipolar disorder. We exclude pedophilia from that," she said.

More important, pedophilia doesn't become a crime unless the urge is acted upon with a sexual assault, child endangerment or download of child pornography, Kaplan said.

"One can live with pedophilia and not act on it," she wrote in the op-ed.

As of yesterday afternoon, Kaplan's op-ed had registered close to 1,000 comments. Most were negative and frustrating, Kaplan admitted, and some were worse.

"Frustrating is fine, but some were scary," she said.

But Kaplan said she also read supportive comments and received positive emails from people in the criminal-justice and mental-health systems.

"They were glad to see this getting some attention," she said.

Several child-advocacy groups did not return requests for comment, and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia declined to comment.

The goal of the op-ed and a research paper she's publishing next year is to advocate for treatment, for more intervention to help people with pedophilia live without committing crimes.

"There's a lot of unknowns about treatment," she said. "We've dedicated what little research we have on sex offenders." ..Source.. by JASON NARK

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