Should Therapists Have to Report Patients Who Viewed Child Pornography? July 28, 2015
A new law meant to protect children could lead to fewer pedophiles getting treatment before acting on their sexual impulses.
By Conor Friedersdorf
Say that a 25-year-old man walks into a therapist’s office, where he expresses gratitude for being seen on such short notice. “I have a terrible secret,” he confesses. “I’m attracted to adolescent boys. I know how wrong it would be to act on that impulse. I haven’t yet, and I want to make sure that I never do. Can you please help me?”
The therapist nods.
“You did the right thing seeking help,” she says.
The man begins to cry in relief. “Thank you,” he says. “I’ve always purposely avoided kids, but last month my dad died, and last week I was going through an old box of his stuff when I found some old child pornography he had and it stirred up all these urges. I finally burned it, but I’m embarrassed to say I kept it for a couple days first.”
law that went
into effect at the beginning of this year, the therapist in this hypothetical
example—and any real life therapist who learns that a patient has viewed child
pornography of any kind—would be required to report that information to
authorities. The requirement applies to adults who admit to having viewed
explicit images of children. And it even applies to teenage patients who tell
their therapists about having viewed images sent to them by a peer engaged in