Critics Assail Study Affirming Pedophilia

By Duin, Julia | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 23, 1999 | Go to article overview

Critics Assail Study Affirming Pedophilia


Duin, Julia, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


A study on pedophilia that claims child sexual abuse does not cause lasting psychological harm to its victims has set off a furor on the Internet and talk radio.

The angry public reaction, fueled by Internet reports and conservative activists, comes nine months after the study was first released by the influential American Psychological Association.

Sex between adults and willing minors should be described in more positive terms, the study suggests.

"A willing encounter . . . would be labeled simply `adult-child sex,' a value-neutral term," the authors advised. "A willing encounter between an adolescent and an adult with positive reactions . . . would be labeled scientifically as `adult-adolescent sex.' "

The report, titled "A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples," is a compilation of 59 studies on how college students cope with child sexual abuse.

The article was written by Bruce Rind, a psychology professor at Temple University in Pennsylvania, Philip Tromovitch of the University of Pennsylvania graduate school of education and Robert Bauserman, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan.

Mr. Bauserman was also a contributor to a special issue on sex between men and boys published in 1990 by the Journal of Homosexuality, a scholarly journal. His article on "Male Intergenerational Intimacy" in that journal questioned the "taboo" against "man-boy sexual relationships." Mr. Bauserman dismissed criticism of these relationships as "irrelevant or else biased."

Laura Schlessinger, also known as Dr. Laura, one of the nation's top-rated talk-show hosts, with up to 18 million listeners, blasted the 31-page report yesterday. She said the study, published in July in the APA's bimonthly Psychological Bulletin, was proof the 155,000-member organization had "gone soft" on child molesters.

"I'm scared this study could be used to normalize pedophilia, to change the legal system," she said. "The APA will quietly redefine pedophilia like it did homosexuality."

The APA and its sister organization, the American Psychiatric Association, voted two decades ago to end the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness. Reaction to the APA report first surfaced in December in a scathing critique published by the National Association on Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, an Encino, Calif., group that believes homosexuality is morally wrong.

"If psychology indeed recognizes consensual pedophilia as harmless, then civil law and social norms will be under pressure to follow the lead of social science as indeed they did on the issue of homosexuality," the organization said. …

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