APA's Views under Attack

Article excerpt

The nation's premier organization of psychologists remains under fire one year after publishing a report on child sex abuse. Congress could vote to condemn the article this fall.

Never say psychologists have no fun. The annual gathering of the American Psychological Association, or APA, in Boston this summer included a miniconvention on sex, love and psychology, including a performance by the "Sexual Peccadillo Players." Big-name "sexperts" June Reinisch, Joyce Brothers and Albert Ellis held forth in discussions such as "Love and Sex in the Media."

But the 4,000 workshops and festive atmosphere for the 16,000 conventioneers couldn't cloud the fact that it was a troubled year for the 159,000-member organization. In February, an obscure APA journal piece on child sex abuse blew up in their faces. Conservative commentators, including talk-show maven "Dr. Laura" Schlessinger, excoriated them on the air for, in their opinion, insinuating that not all child sex abuse was bad.

The report, titled "A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples" was published in the 6,000-circulation Psychological Bulletin. Critics assailed the three authors of the report for sloppy research (of the 59 studies cited, 23 had not been subjected to peer review). One of its authors, Robert Bauserman (currently employed in AIDS prevention for the Maryland State Health Department in Baltimore) was found to have written favorably about pedophilia in the summer 1989 issue of Paidika -- The Journal of Pedophilia, in an article titled "Man-Boy Sexual Relationships in a Cross-Cultural Perspective."

Further revelations were equally damaging. In 1990, Bauserman published an article in the Journal of Homosexuality calling for "scientific objectivity" about sex between men and boys, saying the boys were not necessarily victims nor were the men predators. Bauserman also collaborated with another of the report's authors, Bruce Rind of Temple University, on at least three other articles sympathetic to pedophilia, according to the Leadership Council for Mental Health, Justice and the Media in Philadelphia. The Leadership Council also produced documents showing Rind and Bauserman as keynote speakers at a "study conference" last December in the Netherlands. Literature from the conference appeared sympathetic to pedophilia.

"The publication of the Rind study was shocking because it was such flawed science," says Joyanna Filberg, executive vice president of the Leadership Council. If anyone with a background in sexual abuse had reviewed the article, "major red flags would have gone up," adds Stephanie Dallam, a researcher with the council. …