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Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Rind Study: Justifying Pedophilia

In the late 1990's a study started by researchers at Temple University along with University of Pennsylvania finished a study that was lead by researcher Bruce Rind. The shocking thesis of this study said that if a child consented to sex with an adult it would wind up being a positive experience in their lives.

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.


Jay said...

So basically, it seems that Rind is sating "If the act leaves a negative impression on the child, then it is wrong, but if the impression is positive or neutral, then it is perfectly fine." So, if Rind were to have it his way, pedophilia would be a crime that would result in about half the defendants going free an the other half incarcerated? A better crime correlates to lessened/no sentence, while a worse "man/boy love" session results in a longer sentence? This is insane.

mike volpe said...

What's insane is that this study was given legitimacy by the APA and the medical community at large. What's insane is that institutions with prestige like Temple and UPenn gave this guy funds to make his insane thesis a matter of "academic" debate.

Anonymous said...

A scientific study is a scientific study. If you want to criticize it, you have to assess his methodology.

Rind's study doesn't justify pedophilia, it minimizes the harm alledgedly done.

People always say that the abused children are destroyed. But scientific datas show it is not systematic.

mike volpe said...

The harm allegedly done. Are you kidding me? I don't need a study to know that the harm to choldren is devastating.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, according to the study, the harm done when the child consents is either reduced or non-existant. As for what you know mike, how often have you seen cases of child-adult sex? Are you qualified to tell the difference between damage done from the incident and damage done when society tells the "victim" that what was done to them was wrong? I'm not saying that child-adult sex has no reprecussions, as the study clearly showed that unconsenting sex did have negative effects associated, but so do adult-adult cases of rape. Maybe instead of blindly ignoring any scientific data that goes against your opinion, you should look at the study with an open mind. Like a previous anon said, if you think its wrong, find something wrong with the methodology, if you can't, you might as well accept that study as valid.

BTN said...

Man, the comments in here are characteristic of a paranoid society which clings to controversy, blindly being led by popular media. There are plenty of studies which prove children are inherently sexual beings, oppressed by western cultural to be "innocent". Kinsey reported babies, toddlers, infants, children, tweens, teens masturbating and able to achieve orgasms. In the 1800s and early 1900s babarians of parents purchased torturous restraints to prevent children from masturbating. Many would point to good old Christian values for "protecting" children from sex. There is no mention in the Bible regarding a requirement to "protect" children. I think it was King Josiah who got married at 8. On the flip side everyone is happy with multiple marriages, shuffling kids from home to home, what a mess. Read the facts and stop following the crowd like a lamb.

1TruthMovement said...

When we start long path of criminalizing behavior that poses a risk of harm, as opposed to actual harm, through the color of law, there are real dangers of an overbroad distortion of the principle by those enforcing such laws. Even assuming moral arguments can be empirically proven, it is difficult to comply with the principle of fair imputation; a normative link does not exist between a behavior and a future abusive behavior simply because that behavior may influence others to future abusive behavior. Many laws about Jews in Nazi Germany and many laws concerning women and blacks in early U.S. law were morally wrong. Many apartheid laws in South Africa were morally wrong. But there have also been government programs set up by law that simply mistakenly harmed the people they were intended to help, such as aspects of the welfare rules that ended up trapping people in poverty rather than assisting them to escape it. Most of the opponents like Schlessinger have spoken in propositions, mostly with strong emotional loading and much rhetoric. Calling the Rind study,"junk science at its worst" Schlessinger claimed the point of the article was to normalize pedophilia and even implied that two of the authors traveled over the world to promote adult-child sex (Lilienfeld, 2002b, p. 178). The authors were careful to emphasize that lack of harm doesn't mean adult-child sexual contact is morally permissible. The Rind study concluded stating subjects who had been sexually abused were nearly as well-adjusted as those who were not. Their results were similar to earlier studies using community samples (Bauserman & Rind, 1997; Rind & Tromovitch, 1997). The phony doctor Schlessinger used her position as a Conservative talk show host and urged Congress to take formal action against the APA. Raymond D. Fowler, Chief Executive Officer of the APA, initially defended the article which also suggested that a more neutral terms such as "adult-child sex" and "adult-adolescent sex" be used rather than "child sexual abuse" to describe willing encounters between adults and minors that the young person experienced as positive in the peer review process (Garrison & Kobor, 2002). For example, it is wrong to cheat on your wife, yet it is not a matter of justice; therefore if it's not a matter of justice, coercive institutions lie. the State should not get involved. It is also wrong to look at obscene images; However it should not be a matter of justice because it lacks coerciveness. Therefore, the State should not get involved. Morality involves a set of principles which would guide one to righteousness but are clearly subjective.