Since the “Prevention Project” went live on the World Wide Web, it has understandably stirred controversy. A recent article published at The Free Thought Project calls it a “disturbing attempt to normalize pedophilia as a mainstream ‘sexual orientation’…with the hope they will be accepted as part of the LGBT community.” According to that story, they wish to be “rebranded” as “Minor-Attracted Persons” (MAPs) rather than pedophiles.

The idea that any adult who would sexually molest underage children should somehow be considered “normal” and enjoy the same general acceptance for which the LGTB community has fought long and hard is indeed disturbing, if not outrageous – but is that really what the “Prevention Project” is all about? Or is it an attempt to provide assistance and support to people who suffer from mental illness while helping to keep children from being victimized in the first place?

The Prevention Project was founded by Candice Christiansen, a trauma therapist and mental health counselor with a background in treating sex addiction. Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, Ms. Christiansen is herself the survivor of childhood sexual abuse. In a message on the Prevention Project website, she says:

“I spent a decade working on both sides of the criminal justice system providing crisis support/treatment to trauma survivors as well as providing traditional sex offender treatment with convicted sexual offenders. I got really tired of working in systems that waited until AFTER another victim was created before providing therapeutic interventions. It seemed more logical to me to go to the actual source of any potential harm and provide preventive treatment interventions BEFORE any harm was committed instead of waiting until irreparable damage had been done.”

She adds, “My motto is ‘Prevention IS the Intervention.’”

Ms. Christiansen emphasizes that the Project “does not nor ever has used the term MAP as a ‘softening’ or ‘rebranding’ of the term pedophile.” She adds, “I am not fighting for the acceptance or normalization of pedophilia…I am fighting for NO MORE VICTIMS.” The men and women who reach out to the Prevention Project are those who are struggling with what psychologists and sex researchers agree is a serious mental disorder and form of deviant behavior. They are aware of the danger they pose to children. They want help in fighting their abnormal desires so that children and young people are not harmed – and Ms. Christiansen and her colleagues are providing them with ways to get the treatment they need.

Unfortunately, too many have jumped to conclusions, reading rumors and “fake news” about the Prevention Project. Ms. Christiansen regularly receives abusive communications and even death threats from those who have not bothered to educate themselves about her work.

Any reasonable person would agree with the old proverb, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If Candice Christiansen’s Prevention Project can help save children from being the victims of sexual predators by stopping potential abusers from acting on their desires in the first place, its work deserves support.

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.