Reinstate Professor Allyn Walker
Reinstate Professor Allyn Walker
On November 16, 2021, Professor Allyn Walker was placed on administrative leave from their position as Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Old Dominion University. This came after several days of online misinformation about Professor Walker's work in the field of crime prevention, specifically relating to the prevention child sexual abuse. Before Professor Walker was placed on leave, several well-intentioned but ultimately misinformed students held protests calling for them to be removed from their position entirely.
These attacks against a well-known and widely-respected member of the child sexual abuse prevention community are based on nothing more than misinformation and stigma, all fueled by some individuals' desire to virtue-signal their hatred of pedophilia rather than support evidence-backed child protection initiatives and research. As a result, many members of the prevention community have taken to Twitter to express their disappointment at how the students and administrators at Old Dominion University handled the situation.
Dr. Gilian Tenbergen, an assistant professor of psychology at Oswego University, writes "The willful ignorance of so many is just disturbing. No wonder so many of us are leaving Twitter and the field."
Dr. Maggie Ingram, a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, writes "I stand with Allyn Walker. They are not promoting adult-child sex.... Attempting to silence researchers is unacceptable."
Dr. Craig Harper, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Nottingham Trent University, writes "The treatment of Allyn Walker on this platform [Twitter], on campus, and in the media, for doing nothing more than talking in relatively broad terms about a burgeoning research field, is nothing short of disgraceful."
Dr. Skye Stephens, an associate professor of psychology at Saint Mary's University, writes "V[ery] frustrated to see the media coverage of Allyn Walker and the response of ODU to place them on administrative leave. The crux of what Walker writes...is widely accepted in the field."
Adding to Dr. Stephens’ post, Dr. Michael Seto, the Forensic Research Director at the University of Ottawa’s Institute for Mental Health Research, writes “I’m further dismayed that [Old Dominion University] chose to reward the public backlash instead of defending the academic freedom of one of their faculty.”
Organizations have also spoken out in support of Professor Walker.
The American Society of Criminology's Division of Queer Criminology writes "It is necessary to understand the causes of sexual offenses in order to prevent them, and Dr. Walker’s work aims to do just that.... The leadership of the Division on Queer Criminology is fully supportive of Dr. Walker and the important contributions their work makes to the field of criminology."
We call on the administration at Old Dominion University to stand with researchers and experts in the face of misinformation and hate. Put academic freedom before profit and optics. Send a strong message to those who believe their feelings should be prioritized over the safety and protection of children. Reinstate Professor Allyn Walker to their position.