NYT column calls for recognition of pedophilia as a disability

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NYT Column Stirs up Controversy

In a column in the Sunday New York Times, Rutgers Law Professor Margo Kaplan created a stir by advocating for the classification of pedophilia as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“By some estimates, 1 percent of the male population continues, long after puberty, to find themselves attracted to prepubescent children,” Kaplan wrote in the article, which ran October 5. “These people are living with pedophilia, a sexual attraction to prepubescents that often constitutes a mental illness. Unfortunately, our laws are failing them and, consequently, ignoring opportunities to prevent child abuse.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act contains a provision that explicitly excludes pedophilia from its otherwise broad definition of mental illness. Similar exceptions exist for transvestism and kleptomania, among others.

As Kaplan sees it, this exclusion, by emphasizing punishment over prevention, makes it more, not less, likely that people with pedophilia will become child molesters.

“It’s time to revisit these categorical exclusions,” Kaplan wrote. “Without legal protection, a pedophile cannot risk seeking treatment or disclosing his status to anyone for support. He could lose his job, and future job prospects, if he is seen at a group-therapy session, asks for a reasonable accommodation to take medication or see a psychiatrist, or requests a limit in his interaction with children.

“Isolating individuals from appropriate employment and treatment only increases their risk of committing a crime.”

Later in the week, Kaplan further elaborated on her perspective in a Q&A with the Philadelphia Magazine.

One response to “NYT column calls for recognition of pedophilia as a disability

  1. the only concern I have with this that it make excuse for child abuse and molestation which is inexcusable. it good to promote early prevention before the situation arises but if a person with pedophile commits the crime. still think it should be considered a criminal act and the person should pay the sentence. also I am worried that this could wrongly diagnose people with pedophile before they taken any action. I just feel that there is no excuse to sexually abuse children and making this a disability would give it an excuse. that is my only concern about it becoming a disability. also this would make it hard to end the stigma on mental illness because for good reason pedophilia is considered unacceptable due to the harm it inflict on children. those our my thoughts.

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