January 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day for those who might not know. Hoping to shed light on the subject, many organizations will share facts and tips on how to combat trafficking and stay safe. Wanting to do their part, USA Today decided to run an article that presented the idea that pedophiles are somehow misunderstood and will not always become an abuser. 

Titled “What the public keeps getting wrong about pedophilia,” author Alia E. Dastagir wrote, “When most of the public thinks of pedophilia, they assume it’s synonymous with child sexual abuse, a pervasive social problem that has exploded to crisis levels online. Researchers who study pedophilia say the term describes an attraction, not an action, and using it interchangeably with ‘abuse’ fuels misperceptions.”

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Dastagir would add, “Not all people who sexually abuse children are pedophiles. Some pedophiles never abuse children, experts say, and some people who sexually abuse children do not sexually prefer them but use them as a surrogate for an adult partner. They may be disinhibited and anti-social, with impulse control problems.”

With the article’s release coming before a day surrounding human trafficking, USA Today garnered intense backlash for their decision. Survivor Eliza Bleu said, “I have been extra encouraged this year by the outpouring of love towards the survivor space around this important day. In search for corporate press articles to post on social media I saw the USA Today tweet about pedophilia with attached the article. My heart is broken for survivors of child sex abuse and trauma, instead. Insteadorporate press using today to stand in solidarity with survivors and offer resources, USA Today chose to tweet an article today posted yesterday seemingly trying to normalize pedophilia.”

Jack Posobiec of Human Events also called out USA Today for posting the piece and then trying to delete it. 

But among all the commenters who responded, the loudest was most definitely the son of former President Donald Trump. Don Jr. wrote, “The Internet is forever assholes. Good try on the delete tho! USA TODAY TRIES TO “UNDERSTAND” PEDOPHILES!!! To me (and probably anyone who has been watching), this is nothing more than the first step of trying to normalize this kind of behavior.”

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