By: Annet Preethi Furtado
February 17 2023
Police Scotland clarified that MAP will not be used to describe child abusers and that its inclusion in a report was misconstrued.
A Facebook video claims that Scotland has replaced the word "pedophiles," also spelled as paedophiles, with the term "minor-attracted people" (MAPs) and normalizes pedophilia. The video carries a screenshot of a headline which reads, "Scotland Police Rename Pedophiles As 'Minor Attracted People' at Direction of EU," with text overlaid on the video that says, "Normalising Paedophilia." The European Conservative article featured in this video discusses a "high-level report" by Police Scotland that used the phrase "minor-attracted persons" rather than pedophiles.
The narrator of the video argues that Scotland has renamed pedophiles as MAPs and claims that Scotland took this step as a part of a €2 million European Union (EU) program to "support and understand" pedophiles.
The terminology around child sexual abuse and pedophiles has not been changed in Scotland. The controversy around the alleged move to rename pedophiles as "MAPs" originated from a Police Scotland report that used the term.
In June 2022, Police Scotland published a report, Standards of Service for Victims and Witnesses. Under the section "Tackling Online Child Sexual Abuse And Exploitation," the report noted that the force's specialist crime division had extended support to a European project to combat the consequences of child sexual exploitation. Regarding the project, the report stated: "This project's main agenda is to develop understanding and approach to avoid the victimization of children by engaging Minor-Attracted People (MAPs) and provide them with the necessary support, treatment, and guidance to help prevent criminal activities." Another report from the police also carried the same sentences.
The mention of the phrase "minor-attracted people" in this report caused an uproar in the news and social media, with some accusing the police of normalizing sex crimes against children. Several articles expressed concern over Police Scotland's apparent watering down of child abuse language.
On December 31, 2023, Police Scotland released a statement stating that media coverage of the police department's position on the phrase "minor-attracted individual" was incorrect and that the term is not used by the department to define such an offender. It further clarified that the "term referenced in a Police Scotland report in June 2022 was quoted from proposal documents for establishing the Horizon Project, a European consortium to tackle child sexual abuse and exploitation." Further, the statement says that Police Scotland officers successfully advocated for removing the term MAP from the terminology at the consortium's inaugural conference in Warsaw in September 2022. Detective Chief Superintendent Sam Faulds, Head of Public Protection for Police Scotland, said: "We utterly condemn anyone who commits sexual offences against children, be it individuals or organized pedophile networks, and we work tirelessly to bring them to justice.''
The previous fact sheet on the European Commission's site describing the Horizon project's objective, which is currently only accessible on the archived website, included the term "Minor Attracted People (MAPs)." However, the current fact sheet shows that the phrase has now been replaced with "people with a sexual interest in children."
Therefore, the terminology was used by this particular initiative and not by Scotland or Police Scotland. Renaming pedophiles as MAPs is not a part of the project's aims, contrary to the claim made in the Facebook video.
Claims suggesting that Scotland has replaced the term pedophiles with Minor-Attracted People in a move to normalize pedophilia are incorrect. Though the term was used in a Police Scotland report, the police force has clarified it was taken from a consortium's proposal materials to address child sexual abuse and exploitation. They have also denied using the phrase "minor-attracted person" to define such offenders. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false.