An Old Dominion University (ODU) professor has taken the internet by storm following his controversial comments defending people attracted to children.
Dr. Allyn Walker, who teaches sociology and criminal justice at the Virginia university, argued for using the term “minor-attracted people” (or MAPs) to describe pedophiles. Walker explained this new term was “less stigmatizing” since people attracted to children might not necessarily act on it.
Walker also said society should not judge pedophiles because they can’t help who they feel attracted to. It is the response to that attraction that should be criticized, he said.
“A lot of people when they hear the term pedophile, they automatically assume that it means a sex offender. And that isn’t true. And it leads to a lot of misconceptions about attractions toward minors,” the ODU professor said in an interview with a nonprofit.
The interview has put Walker in the hot seat, with social media and ODU students expressing mixed feelings about his comments.
“I was very surprised and shocked. I actually didn’t believe it until I saw it on Twitter,” said Andrew Lambakis, the president of the ODU College Republicans. “I’m actually thinking about planning a peaceful protest against Allyn Walker.”
Walker’s interview was described as “gross” by another student. “Just because you’re not acting on it, to acknowledge it is weird and not okay at all. It feels uncomfortable to know that someone’s like that on campus,” he said.
Others expressed their opinions that Walker’s views outside of his workplace should not affect his position at the university.
Online outrage over Walker’s comments pushed the university to release statements clarifying it does not “endorse or promote crime.” Walker has also stated that he “embarked on this research in hopes of gaining understanding of a group that, previously, has not been studied.”
“I want to be clear: child sexual abuse is a morally wrong and inexcusable crime. As an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice, the goal of my research is to prevent crime,” he said.