An article by Bruce Rind, Philip Tromovitch, and Robert Bauserman entitled "A
Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College
Samples" in the Psychological Bulletin, a publication of the American
Psychological Association, had drawn a firestorm of criticism. The authors concluded that
based on their meta-analysis of studies on child sexual abuse "the negative effects
were neither pervasive nor typically intense, and that men reacted much less negatively
The APA defended publication of the article. APA spokeswoman Rhea Faberman that the APA
is a scientific organization "we try to create a lot of dialogue." She called
talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger's attempt to build a bridge between publication of
the article and "the so-called attempt to normalize pedophila" ridiculous.
Contrary to Ms. Faberman's assertion, the connection between Robert Bauserman, one of
the article's authors and the very real movement to legalize sex between adults and
children can be easily documented. The APA should have known about this connection before
they published the article.
THE CAMPAIGN FOR "INTERGENERATIONAL INTIMACY"
In 1990 the Journal of Homosexuality published a double issue which was later
republished as a book entitled Intergenerational Intimacy Historical,
Socio-Pyschological and Legal Perspective. In this book a number of writers make the
case for relaxing the laws against sex between adult men and boys. The volume also
includes two short responses, extremely critical of adult/child sexual relationships.
In the forward to the volume, Gunter Schmidt presents a sympathetic view of pedophilia.
Pedophile relationships are extremely varied, despite their common features, too varied
to allow us to use the term "sexual abuse" as a synonym without being guilty of
discriminating against and defaming a whole group of people.
There are, even where no physical force or pressure is exerted, relationships which are
exploitative, damaging, and blind to the child's needs; there are also relationships in
which children realize that the adult is in a weak position because of the law and use
this power in the a blackmailing fashion. And there are successful pedophile relationships
which help and encourage the child, even though the child often agrees to sex while really
seeking comfort and affection. These are often emotionally deprived, deeply lonely
socially isolated children who seek , as it were, a refuge in an adults' love and for
whom, because of their misery, see it as a stroke of luck to have found such an
'enormously nurturant relationship.'... It looks as though children who are not
emotionally deprived are, so to speak 'immune' to the advances of an adult seeking sexual
contact. Each individual case must be looked upon on its own merits and, for this reason
the threat to make all pedophile acts punishable by law can barely be labeled civilized;
on the contrary, it is unjust, for it implies the discrimination and persecution of a
minority and should be abolished.
Schmidt apparently believes that pedophiles should not be punished for engaging in
sexual relationships with emotionally vulnerable and psychologically needy children. The
obvious answer for these children would be supportive non-sexual relationships. But it is
clear from other articles in the same volume that pedophiles are not able to provide
because they are themselves emotional children.
In the introduction to the same volume "Man-Boy Relationships: Different Concepts
for a Diversity of Phenomena", Theo Sandfort, Edward Brongersman, and Alex van
Naerssen, all known advocates for pedophilia, write:
It is difficult to predict what will happen in the future with respect to man-boy
relationships, child sexuality, and the position of children in our society. Will
pedophilia become a lifestyle for some people, based on their personally designed sexual
orientation" Will society allow people to adopt such a lifestyle, or will society
persist in seeing them only as child molesters? Can sexual involvement between adults and
children be only conceived as child sexual abuse, or will professionals and the public
come to realize that there are various kinds of intimate involvement between adults and
children and that distinctions between voluntary involvement and forced involvement can be
made? While children get more possibilities to construct their own sexualities,
unrestricted by parents, professionals, the church, and pedophiles?
In 1984 Theo Sandfort published a report of interviews with 25 boys aged 10 to 16 who
were currently involved in sexual relationships with adult men. The interviews took place
in the residences of the adult men. Sandfort concluded that the relationships were viewed
positively by the boys. Given the circumstances, namely that the boys were in ongoing
relationships and interviewed in the homes of the pederasts (although not in their
presence), such a result is not surprising.
In 1990 in an article entitled "Objectivity and Ideology: Criticism of Theo
Sandfort's Research on Man-Boy Sexual Relations," Robert Bauserman defended the
research of Theo Sandfort and criticized those who found the research to be unethical.
Bauserman admits that the goal is for people to look at child/adult sexual relations
"objectively". The following are excerpts from the Bauserman article:
Three critiques of Theo Sandfort's research on man-boy sexual relationships in the
Netherlands are examined and evaluated. Three types of criticism - methodological,
speculative, and moral -- are identified. specific criticism of the study are evaluated on
the basis of their validity and , where appropriate, their underlying assumptions. It is
argued that moral condemnation of such relationships, combined with a prevailing ideology
of boy "victims" and adult "perpetrators," results in efforts by
Sandfort's critics to attack and discredit his research rather than evaluate it
In 1981 Theo Sandfort, lecturer in psychology at the State University of Utrecht in the
Netherlands, published the results of his study of 25 boys aged 10 to 16 who were involved
in ongoing pederastic relationships with adult men at the time of the study. He concluded
that "For virtually all the boys... the sexual contact itself was experienced
positively and had no negative effect on how the youngster felt in general (Sandfort
1982). Sandfort also determined that the boys did not perceive a misuse of power by the
Sandfort writes "the question was whether a sexual contact with an adult could be
a positive experience for a child. To the extent to which this research material can give
a definite answer, the question must be answered in the affirmative."
Expert on sexual child abuse David Finkelhor responded to Bauserman as follows:
Epidemiological studies show that adult-child sexual contact is a predictor of later
depression, suicidal behavior, dissociative disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, and sexual
problems even when other noxious background factors are controlled for.
The public policy priority to protect children from unwanted and coercive sexual
approaches by adults seems justified given the evidence of its wide prevalence and the
high risk for serious effects. The (now grown) children who have had such experiences are
very active in lobbying for such protection.
Dr. David Mrazek criticized the ethics of the Sandfort study and of Bauserman's defense
In this study, the researchers joined with members of the National Pedophile Workshop
to "study" the boys who were the sexual 'partners' of its members... there is no
evidence that human subject safeguards were a paramount concern. However, there is ample
evidence that the study was politically motivated to 'reform' legislation. Specific risks
that are not even acknowledged in the book include contracting sexually transmitted
diseases, legal prosecution, and breached confidentiality leading to peer discrimination
and family disruptions. These researchers knowingly colluded with the perpetuation of
secret illegal activity. .. In the majority of cases, these boys' parents were unaware of
these sexual activities with adult men and the researchers contributed to this deception
by their action.
Bauserman continued is campaign to legitimize child/adult sexual relationship with an
article co-authored with Bruce Rind in the Journal of Sex Research. (Aug. 1993)
entitled "Biased terminology effects and biased information processing in research on
adult-nonadult sexual interactions: An empirical investigation." The study sought to
prove that using "value-laden negative terms" to describe child/adult sex biased
the results of studies.
The pressure for the acceptance of adult/child sexual relations has not abated. An
article in the Journal of Homosexuality Feb. 1999, "The Pattern of Sexual
Politics: Feminism, Homosexuality and Pedophila ", Harris Mirkin argues:
"Current attitudes toward child sexuality and representations of it resemble
historical attitudes toward women and homosexuals." He sees the battle in two parts:
The first is a battle to prevent the battle, to keep the issue from being seen as
political and negotiable. Psychological and moral categories are used to justify ridicule
and preclude any discussion of the issue, and standard Constitutional guarantees are seen
as irrelevant. The second more closely resembles traditional politics as different groups
argue over rights and privileges. Feminist and gay/lesbian politics have recently entered
the second phase, while pedophilia is in the first.
It is clear from this article that those who are interested in legalizing sexual
relations between adults and children want to change the parameters of the discussion,
from the "absolutist" moral and ethical it is always wrong and should be illegal
to the "relativist" position that sometimes it can be beneficial. According to
this view, any discussion of benefits of child/adult sex is a victory.
The article in the APA Bulletin was clearly an effort to move the discussion in that
direction. It is difficult to see how the editors could have been so blind as not to
recognize the ultimate goal of the writers.
The strategy as outlined by Mirkin is to move the debate from a "subjective"
discussion of morality to an "objective" discussion of the subjective feelings
of the victims. This ignores the objective evidence presented by a substantial body of
research that the risks outweigh the benefits. Indeed risks to the child of involvement in
a sexual relationship with an adult are probably higher than the risks from other
activities where we routinely forbidden adolescent and child participation such as driving
and drinking. The large number of adults who feel that they were abused sexually and are
seeking refuge in the courts years after the offense points to the long term negative
effects of sexual child abuse.
No one can argue that all child/adult sex is risk free for the child. If child/adult
sex were to be allowed, who would decide if the benefits outweighed the risks in a
particular case? The pedophile, the child, the parents, some social agency. It is of
Suppose that a group of men who routinely physically assault their wives were to
commission a study of women currently living with men who beat them, with the researchers
-- friends of the assailants -- interviewing the women in the shared residence although
not in the actual presence of the assailant. Would any serious researcher consider the
results of such research "objective" proof that domestic assault should not be
illegal? Suppose sociologists friendly to the assailants were to conduct a meta-analysis
of research on domestic violence and report that the majority of women stayed in abusive
relationships because they still loved their assailant or perceived the benefits to
outweigh the losses incurred by leaving. Would this be "objective" evidence that
domestic violence can be a positive experience? Would a study which found that domestic
violence was common in other societies and during other eras be objective proof of its
Domestic violence, slavery, human sacrifice, and ritualized child sexual abuse have
been practiced in certain cultures, but that doesn't mean that we should imitate these
societies. At some point the "objective" must be judged by a higher principal,
in this case the protection of children must be the primary consideration. To even discuss
the objective benefits some children might possible receive from being sexually abused is
to betray these children. Dr. Finkelhor makes this absolutely clear in his response to the
1990 Bauserman article
Ultimately, I do continue to believe that the prohibition on adult-child sexual contact
is primarily a moral issue. While empirical findings have some relevance they are not the
final arbiter. The social judgment that slavery is reprehensible would not have been
challenged by empirical findings that some slaves felt positively about being a slave (as
some undoubtedly did) or even benefited from it.
Some types of social relationships violate deeply held values and principles in our
culture about equality and self-determination. Sex between adults and children is one of
If those who believe that children must be protected allow the "dialogue" to
be conducted on "objective" grounds, they will be playing a rigged game which
they cannot win.
Male Intergenerational Intimacy. (1991) NY: Haworth
Bauserman, R. (1990) Objectivity and Ideology: Criticism of Theo Sandfort's Research
on Man-Boy Sexual Relations. Journal of Homosexuality. 20, 1/2. 297 -312
Finkelhor, D. (1990) Response to Bauserman Journal of Homosexuality. 20, 1/2 :313
Mrazek, D. (1990) Response to Bauserman Critique. Journal of Homosexuality. 20, 1/2:
Sandfort, T., Brongersman, E., van Naerssen, A. (1990) Man-boy relationships:
Different Concepts for a Diversity of Phenomena. Journal of Homosexuality. 20, 1/2: 5 12.
Schmidt, G. (1990) Forward: the debate of Pedophilia. Journal of Homosexuality. 20,
1/2: 1 -4.
Browne, A., Finkelhor, D. (1986) Impact of child sexual abuse: A review of the
research. Psychological Bulletin 99, 1: 66 -77.
Duin, J. (1999) Critics assail study affirming pedophila: Reaction flares on
Internet, talk radio. Washington Times. March 23.
Mirkin, H. (1999) The pattern of sexual politics: Feminism, homosexuality and
pedophilia. Journal of Homosexuality. 37, 2: 1 - 24.
Rind, B., Bauserman, R. (1993 ) Biased terminology effects and biased information
processing in research on adult-nonadult sexual interactions: An empirical
investigation." Journal of Sex Research. 30, 3: 260 - 269.
Rind, B., Tromovitch, P., Bauserman, R. (1998) A meta-analytic examination of
assumed properties of child sexual abuse using college samples. Psychological Bulletin.
124, 1 :
Sandfort, T. (1984) Sex in pedophiliac relationships: An empirical investigation
among a non-representative group of boys. Journal of Sex Research. 20, 2:123 -142.