Controversies Cloud APA Convention: Premier Psychological Body's Reports on Child Abuse Still Draw Criticism

Article excerpt

Never say psychologists have no fun.

The upcoming annual gathering of the American Psychological Association in Boston will include 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 will hold forth in discussions such as "Love and Sex in the Media." For the late-night crowd, there is "Smoke Signals," a Miramax offering about "a mixture of mysticism and realism exploring the relationship between two young [American Indian] men."

The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson will keynote the opening session on Aug. 20.

But the 4,000 workshops and generally festive atmosphere for the 16,000 conventioneers obscure the fact it has been 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 the piece, which insinuated that not all child sex abuse was bad.

The report, called "A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples" was published a year ago in the 6,000-circulation Psychological Bulletin. Critics also 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, is currently employed on AIDS prevention for the Maryland State Health Department in Baltimore. He 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."

In 1990, he 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. Mr. Bauserman also collaborated with another of the report's authors, Bruce Rind of Temple University, on at least three other articles. All were sympathetic to pedophilia, according to the Leadership Council for Mental Health, Justice and the Media in Philadelphia.

"The publication of the Rind study was shocking because it was such flawed science," says Joyanna Filberg, executive vice president of the Leadership Council. Her organization is investigating how the APA's peer reviewers could have approved the piece.

If anyone with a background in sexual abuse had reviewed the article, "major red flags would have gone up," says Leadership Council researcher Stephanie Dallam. "They quoted well-known pedophile advocates. . . . If you can't trust the data, the whole study is flawed."

She added, "We're disappointed they didn't retract the study. We gave them the data, and they still wouldn't retract it. They dressed up the NAMBLA party line in something that looked very scientific," referring to the North American Man-Boy Love Association.

Mr. Bauserman did not respond to inquiries from The Washington Times. The Leadership Council has also produced documents showing Mr. Rind and Mr. Bauserman as keynote speakers at a "study conference" last December in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Literature from the conference appeared sympathetic to pedophilia.

Conservative critics scolded the APA for publishing the article, culminating in a May 12 press conference where House Majority Whip Tom DeLay and three other GOP congressmen denounced the association. …