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This 19-year-old pedophile has never gone near a child. And he needs you to hear his story.

"This American Life" decided to take on a REALLY hard topic: pedophilia. As a parent of two young kids, just hearing the word triggers a rage in me that I didn't even know I had. This is a hard episode to listen to, but it's really important that you do. Listen to it at work when you are bored at lunch, in your car, wherever. Just please hit "Play."

This 19-year-old pedophile has never gone near a child. And he needs you to hear his story.

The definition of pedophilia is "a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children, generally age 11 years or younger."

Note how I emphasized "attraction." To be a pedophile, you don't have to act on your urges. Just thinking them is enough. Which makes sense. The thing is, though, this attraction can start manifesting in kids as young as 12 or 13. And they have no way to talk about these urges or how to prevent them from taking control of their lives without being considered a threat. Talk to a shrink? You risk being reported to the authorities. The scientific community is so afraid of the stigma attached to even researching pedophilia that it's barely been studied it at all. Which seems like kind of a bad idea if we want to prevent the victimization of more young children.


So a 19-year-old kid, an admitted pedophile who has never acted on his impulses, started an online support group. His mom is helping him find solutions. He needs you to hear this, for the sake of your own kids.

"This American Life" was expecting lots of hate mail for this episode. So far, they've received none. It's a really good look at a really hard issue. So please listen. Also, directly from Ira, "Though there's nothing graphic in this story at all, victims of child sexual abuse should consider this a trigger warning."

"This American Life" is the best podcast on the Interwebs. If I were you, I'd Like them on Facebook.

Reporter Luke Malone spent a year and a half speaking and meeting with members of the support group. You can ask him any questions you might have via Twitter, @bylukemalone, and use hashtag #TarredTAL.

More importantly, if you could tweet and share this so we can prove that audio stories about important and complicated issues can reach a wide audience, I'd owe you one. It's a really painful issue, but it needs to be addressed.

Most importantly, if you have children, the reality is that not all pedophiles are like this guy. So here's a really good article about how to talk to them about it.

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UPDATE 8/18/2014: The reporter, Luke Malone, has just published a far more in depth piece, which includes others like Adam.

TRIGGER WARNING: The piece includes an EXTREMELY GRAPHIC description of a horrific act of abuse on a toddler in the first 4 paragraphs. Additionally, there's more detail in the 4th paragraph of the 3rd section (next to the illustration of a boys head and a house inside it.) I cried reading it and then felt extremely violently angry. But I kept reading. It's hard. But important. Click here to go to the piece.

Please consider this a warning, and I encourage you to keep reading everything after it, so we can do more to make sure things like that never happen again. Matter, the publication that the work appears in, has written a lengthy explanation about why they decided to run it.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less