The internalization of social stigma among minor-attracted persons: implications for treatment

Lievesley, R., Harper, C. and Elliott, H. (2020) The internalization of social stigma among minor-attracted persons: implications for treatment. Archives of Sexual Behaviour. ISSN 0004-0002

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In this paper, we sought to build on existing stigmatization research by examining the extent to which internalized stigmatization (i.e., the personal adoption and incorporation of social views, operationalized as thought suppression – an avoidant coping strategy – and low psychological wellbeing) among minor-attracted persons (MAPs) may impact upon help-seeking behaviors and their avoidance of children. We adopted a cross-sectional anonymous survey design to recruit a sample of self-identified MAPs (N = 183) from prominent online support fora. We found that increased levels of suppression and lower levels of psychological wellbeing were associated with lower levels of hope about the future, but higher levels of both shame and guilt about having a sexual interest in minors. Thought suppression was not significantly associated with outcomes related to help-seeking behaviors, but did significantly higher rates of actively avoiding children, even after controlling for psychological wellbeing and other emotional variables. Independently, lower levels of self-reported psychological wellbeing was associated with a desire for more support and higher rates of actively avoiding children. We explore the potential implications of our data in relation to treating and supporting MAPs within the community, increasing their wellbeing, and encouraging help-seeking behavior. A freely available preprint of this paper is available at

Item Type: Article
Divisions: School of Social Science
Depositing User: Helen Swaby
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2019 13:55
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2021 03:40

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