Allyn Walker (Wikipedia archive)

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Allyn Walker is an American criminal justice researcher and author. They are known for their research relating to child sexual abuse, their advocacy for mental health treatment for people who are attracted to minors and for their use of the term minor-attracted person.[1][2][3][4]

Walker has worked as a counselor for victims of sexual assault, as an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Old Dominion University from 2019 to 2021,[5] as well as a posdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University.[6] Walker identifies as transgender and uses "they/them" pronouns.[5][7]

In 2021, Walker's use of the term minor-attracted people in a public interview spawned a controversy that culminated in them being put on administrative leave from the Old Dominion University due to safety reasons in 2021.[7][5] In response to the negative news coverage of the controversy, a letter containing the signatures of 63 experts of the fields of mental health and child sexual abuse was issued in support of Walker's academic work, referring to it as important and ground-breaking.[8][7][5][9]

Walker is also known for their academic book A Long, Dark Shadow, which defends the idea that not all people who are sexually attracted to minors are sex offenders and advocates for the facilitation of mental health treatment for these groups.[5][10] Amid public controversy, the book became a best-seller on Amazon.[11]

Academic life

Walker's first job was as a social worker, where they acted as a counsellor for victims of sexual assault and child sexual abuse.[5][12]

In 2017, Walker earned their Ph.D. in criminal justice at the John Jay College and the City University of New York. Their thesis was titled Understanding Resilience Strategies Among Minor-Attracted Individuals.[5][13] In 2019, they were hired at the Old Dominion University, where they worked as an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice.[9][5]

In June 2021, Walker published an academic book titled A Long, Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity. The book was built on the research that they had done during their dissertation.[7][8][5][11]

In November 2021, Walker agreed to an administrative leave from Old Dominion due to violent threats that they had received because of their use of the term minor-attracted people.[5][14][10]

In May 2022, they were hired as a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins University's Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse.[14]

Positions and findings

On child sexual abuse

Template:See also Walker advocates for the prevention of child sexual abuse through the preemptive clinical treatment of people who are sexually attracted to minors. They also see the stigma of this group of people as a deterrent factor that obstructs them from seeking psychological counsel.[7][10]

A 2022 research lead by Walker reported that 54% of a sample of surveyed social service students agreed that they would report "a pedophile" to the police when no sexual offense was mentioned. This rate would, however, drop to 7% when the person in question was labeled as a person with a sexual interest in children but had not committed any child sexual crime.[15]

Walker is opposed to the normalization of sexual activities between adults and children and claims that their beliefs about the topic were mischaracterized by a coordinated media attack against LGBT people.[10][5][11] Walker believes that it is "never OK" for someone to abuse a child, but also that there is no morality attached to the sexual attraction toward children for as long as it is not acted upon.[6]

On pedophilia

Template:See also Walker believes that pedophilia is a hardwired and unchosen sexual attraction.[10][16][5] In their book, A Long, Dark Shadow, they encouraged people who are attracted to minors to never act upon their sexual desires and to seek psychological counsel if they felt at risk of offending.[17]

Walker has argued that the construction of pedophilia as a criminal issue has caused a neglect to the mental health of minor-attracted people. They believe that a more humanistic approach to counseling this group of people is beneficial to the prevention of child sexual abuse.[18]

They belive that the notion that all pedophiles are sex offenders is "not true" and leads to many misconceptions about attractions toward minors.[19] Walker's view that minor-attracted people were simply people who had commited a crime changed after they started researching the topic.[5]

On the use of the term minor-attracted person

Template:See also Walker advocates for the use of the term minor-attracted person due to the fact that it carries less stigma than the word pedophile. They believe that there is a moral difference between people who have an unchosen attraction to children but have not acted upon such feelings and those who have this same attraction and have done so.[11][5]

They believe that there is no morality or immorality attached to a sexual attraction, as it is beyond human control. Walker does believe, however, that actions can carry moral connotation.[11]

A Long, Dark Shadow

In June 2021, Walker released a book titled A Long, Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity.[20][9] The book was built on the research they had done during their Ph.D. thesis in 2017. It was published by the University of California Press.[5]

The book documented the lives of people sexually attracted to minors, arguing that those people are not necessarily predators.[19]

In it, Walker stated that they worked as a counselor for victims of sexual abuse, and that they would feel "enraged" by what they heard from their clients, wishing they could have done something to prevent their victimization.[7] Furthermore, the book describes how Walker's views on people who are attracted to children changed during their research.[5]


The book became a best-seller on Amazon.[11]

It was also criticized for its usage of the term minor-attracted person.[19][16] In an interview with The Washington Post, a student who started a petition against Walker said that their language was a "slap in the face" of child sexual abuse victims.[20] The same student also said that the book gave a "pat on the back" of pedophiles for not acting upon their sexual desires.[9]

Controversy relating to their "Minor-Attracted people" interview

On November 8, 2021, Walker had an online interview with child protection organization Prostasia Foundation about the topic of sexual attractions to minors and child sexual abuse prevention.[5][21] Two days later, a trans-exclusionary radical feminist blog published an article titled "Non-Binary” University Instructor Calls To ‘Destigmatize’ Pedophilia [sic]. The article covered Walker's interview with Prostasia, where they advocated for the use of the term minor-attracted person instead of the word "pedophile". The article also misgendered Walker multiple times.[7][22]

On November 12, a clip of Walker's interview with Prostasia was shared by Libs of TikTok with the title "they are coming for your kids".[23] Ten days further, amid the public controversy, an open letter signed by 63 experts of the field of psychology, mental health and criminology was issued to the president and other high-ranking members of the Old Dominion University in defense of Walker.[7][5][9]

On November 16, Walker agreed to an administrative leave from the Old Dominion University.[9]

On December 10, Old Dominion’s American Society of University Professors published an open letter in support of Walker.[7][6]

Response from the university

On November 24, 2021, the president of the university, Brian Hemphill, published a letter condemning the attempts of intimidation and threats against Walker and defending that controversial ideas should be debated and not silenced.[7][24]

Media coverage

The Libs of TikTok clip of Walker's interview with Prostasia was retweeted by American senator Ted Cruz and James Lindsay. The New York Post, the Daily Mail and Fox News also shared the clip, accusing the professor of trying to normalize the sexual grooming of children. The incident was also discussed on Tucker Carlson Tonight.[8]

Response from Walker

Walker told The Washington Post that the idea that they were defending child sexual abuse was "absolutely outrageous" and that they, as well as the LGBT community, were a victim of a coordinated media attack.[10]

Walker also stated that they, as well as the university campus, had received violent threats during the controversy, and that their positions were mischaracterized, partly due to their trans identity.[5] In a public statement, Walker stated that their research into this controversial topic had been done in order to identify ways of protecting children.[11]

Hiring at Johns Hopkins University

On May 25, 2022, days after their contract with the Old Dominion University expired, Walker was hired as a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins' Moore Center for Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse.[6] The organization, which describes itself as a center for changing the way that society views child sexual abuse "from inevitable to preventable" made several tweets welcoming Walker as a new member.[25]


Walker's research was criticized by the president of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, Michael Salter, for not being victim-centered enough. He said, in 2022, that too much prevention work was being done by researchers who have solely worked with offenders or people sexually attracted to minors.[26]Template:NoteTag

In 2023, radical feminist Julie Bindel accused Walker's academic research of suggesting that the answer to people's attractions to minors was to "feed the beast".[27]

Walker has also been criticized by Bill Donohue in a 2022 essay, the president of the Catholic League, who called Walker "a biological woman who thinks she is a man" and tied the normalization of pedophilia to homosexual activism.[28]

Academic works

  • Walker, A., Butters, R.P. and Nichols, E. (2022). "'I would report it even if they have not committed anything': Social service students' attitudes toward minor-attracted people". Sexual Abuse, 34 (1), pp. 52–77.[29]
  • Walker, A. (2021). A Long, Dark Shadow: Minor-attracted people and their pursuit of dignity. Univ of California Press.[30]
  • Walker, A. (2017). Understanding resilience strategies among minor-attracted individuals (Doctoral dissertation). CUNY Academic Works.[13]

See also






External links

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