We Need To Talk About Mark Salling And Pedophilia

We Need To Talk About Mark Salling And Pedophilia

His crimes are by all accounts horrendous, but he is still a human being, and we need to change the discussion surrounding crimes of this nature if we ever hope to make change.
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This past week, actor Mark Salling, best known for his role as Noah Puckerman in the musical TV show "Glee" –– was found dead from apparent suicide. He had formerly been convicted of several counts of possession of child pornography and had pled guilty to the charges. He was awaiting sentencing, which would likely occur in March.

Many people took to Twitter to voice their grief or outrage at others' grief. Some took it as an opportunity to talk about mental health, while others thought the focus should remain on Sallings' victims and his crimes.

While it makes me uncomfortable to see people tweeting about the loss of Mark Salling –– or Noah Puckerman, as most have been referring to him –– without seemingly any level of awareness of his crimes, it also makes me very uncomfortable seeing people act as though his crimes detract from his humanity. No matter the crime, a human is still a human, and that’s something that we as a society often forget or disregard in discussions of the criminal justice system (especially with prison conditions and the death penalty) with alarming frequency.

Also, while yes this happened right before sentencing, I have to imagine this was an ongoing mental health struggle with which Salling had been dealing well before his crimes were brought to light, especially given the nature of his crime, which is very often coupled with mental health troubles.

Further, and this is more disconnected from his suicide but still connected to the discussion as a whole, we need to provide some sort of resources and counseling to people afflicted with sexual affectations toward children.

It is qualified as a mental health problem by the APA and is not something people can choose. Obviously that in ABSOLUTELY NO WAY excuses his (or anyone’s) crime, nor does it lessen the horrifying effects on his and others’ victims.

But other countries have found substantial levels of success when pedophiles are able to speak to some kind of counselor or therapist about their sexual urges without fear of ostracism or shame. Many of these same countries also offer the (voluntary) option of chemical castration or drug treatment to reduce those sexual urges, which has also shown levels of success.

That’s something the US should look into if we ever hope to actually affect change for potential future victims of this sort of sexual exploitation and abuse, rather than just hoping eventually all of the perpetrators are in prison. Even the seemingly worst among us, such as pedophiles, are still human and are therefore capable, at least potentially, of being rehabilitated.

And when we completely dehumanize them to the point that we often do, it becomes counterproductive because we don’t ever reach any real solutions, and we make it even more likely that the vast majority of pedophiles who never act on their urges will be too frightened to seek help.

Suicide is bad. Pedophilia is bad. Dehumanization is also bad.

These statements don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.
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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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Heroes Of Our Time

Or, how I want to be a hero in the modern world.

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On March 8, it was International Women's Day, where people all over the world recognized the struggles of women around the world, along with the necessary progress necessary to achieve full equality in society. That day passed through my mind like any other day, but the idea of being celebrated for my achievements and helping others garner rights always stood out to me. And with the opportunities which I'm fortunate to have and those I've created, I could do something special.

Simultaneously, I also live in a world where the difference between a hero and a villain is obscured, if not completely dissolved. In our political climate, where at this point, even a certain action can be interpreted to many different ways, whomever is a hero is considered one who not only stands up for themselves, but also brings a strong victory to their side. And with the 2020 presidential campaigns along the way, I had the impression the Democratic Party candidates may shift further to the left, which is advantageous for my political position, but not necessarily for those who may oppose it.

When combined for my interests in literature, I see heroism as one shining moment, born out of the hero's journey. A person would receive their calling from a supernatural source or fate, and decide to take it. They would of course struggle to do what's right and achieve their destiny, but when they did, they would have spectacular glory and respect, no matter if its in life or death.

These influences shape how I want to become a hero — I want to emerge out of a humdrum life in university, take a stand with my writing, and eventually inspire people to do the same. But in books and movies, heroism is seemingly straightforward, showing none of the ordinary work a person has to take to achieve their high status, nor how they pushed through at what they're doing. As somebody who started lacking persistence and will recently, I question how I want to be heroic, when I have to learn how to survive as well.

Going into my 22 year, and further into graduation, I have to learn heroism isn't necessarily contained in one moment, like saving a life or motivating troops to go to war. It doesn't even have to be factional at times, defeating good over evil in some aspects. It has to be a commitment towards what one believes in, and the perseverance to see it through, no matter how difficult it is or how hot the spotlight burns on oneself. And wouldn't it be enough for now?

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