The Rind paper examined 59 studies of 35,000 college students who had been sexually abused as minors. The 59 studies had looked at how the victims were faring in terms of anxiety, depression and 16 other mental-health measures. The authors drew an important distinction between a 15-year-old who has sex willingly and a 5-year-old whose father rapes her. But the authors concluded that for most victims the effects of the abuse "were neither pervasive nor typically intense" and that "men reacted much less negatively than women." In fact, 42% of the men who were asked (vs. 16% of the women) looked back on their sexual experience with an adult as positive.
More shocking than the thesis was the reaction from the medical community and the Psychological community specifically. The Psychological trade journal Psychological Bulletin publisned the study in its July 1998 issue.
In July 1998 a paper titled " A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples " was published in the Psychological Bulletin, the premier scientific journal of the American Psychological Association. In this paper, psychologists Bruce Rind, Philip Tromovitch, and Robert Bauserman analyzed the association between child sexual abuse and maladjustment in college samples. They reported that childhood sexual abuse is only slightly associated with psychological harm, and that harm may not be due to the sexual experience, but to negative family factors in the children's backgrounds. They also reported that "consenting" boys show no evidence of harm and often have positive reactions to sex with adults. Rind et al. concluded that behavior which professionals commonly term "child sexual abuse" may merely constitute a violation of social norms and should be
considered "abuse" only if the child reacts negatively to the encounter. They also advocated less judgmental terminology. For example, a "willing encounter with positive reactions" involving a 9-year-old boy and an adult male, would no longer be considered sexual abuse; instead it would simply be called "adult-child sex," a value neutral term.
Once the respected trade journal published this paper, its demented thesis gained credibility that only such a publication could bring.This study was promoted by the American Psychological Association. In fact, things were so absurd at the APA that its CEO, Dr. Raymond Fowler, initially spoke out in favor of the study calling it a "good study". In fact, this study was part of a larger more neutral view by the APA towards pedophilia.
Although pedophilia remains illegal, and our culture still considers it morally wrong, recent changes in the APA's own diagnostic and statistical manual (DSM) have reopened the discussion of the psychological dimension of pedophilia.
History of the Diagnosis. In the DSM-III, the American Psychiatric Association contended that merely acting upon one's urges toward children was considered sufficient to generate a diagnosis of pedophilia. But then a few years later, in the DSM-IV, the APA changed its criteria so that a person who molested children was considered to have a psychiatric disorder only if his actions "caused clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning." In other words, a man who molested children without remorse, and without experiencing significant impairment in his social and work relationships, could be diagnosed by a clinician as a "psychologically normal" type of pedophile.
There was of course a great deal of blowback. Folks like Dr. Laura Schlessinger spoke out against the study and finally the APA reversed course. Fowler himself finally reversed course writing a letter in which he now referred to the Rind Study as "inflammatory and inconsistent with APA policy on child protection issues". Of course the proverbial cat was out of the bag. By the time the APA had come to their senses, the credibility of its original support was used by nefarious elements to justify pedophilia.
The Rind study was hailed by pedophilia groups such as the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) and has been used in defense of convicted pedophiles in court cases.
Stephanie J. Dallam of the Leadership Council for Mental Health, Justice and the Media, was a co-author of the study critiquing the Rind report. She noted that the Rind study has been used by an Arizona elementary school teacher who was convicted of abusing young boys as grounds to argue for a reduced sentence.
I believe given my experience in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island that there are many elements within our power structure that look the other way or even encourage child abuse and pedophilia. The despicable trek that allowed this Rind Study to gain credibility and be used by nefarious forces is just another example.