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Chapter 3: The 'Molester' and His 'Victim'
It is sometimes pointed out that behaviour which adults call 'sexual' may not have the same meaning for the child. The infant who plays with his genitals may be doing exactly that – playing – and even if this play is taken to orgasm, the 'nice feeling' involved may not be invested with the same significance it would have for an adult. 1 People are accordingly sceptical about the phenomenon of the 'seductive' child. Might not the 'sexual' behaviour of such a child be unwitting?
Take, for instance, the little girl who will happily smile at and chatter to a 'nice man', and will sit across his knee with her legs apart. If the man is susceptible to paedophilic feelings, he may be tempted to see this as 'seductive' behaviour, when the child in fact may be quite unaware of the way he is interpreting events – she may be exhibiting, in the traditional sense, all the 'innocence' of childhood (even though, quite independently, she may also be highly sexed and know how to give herself an orgasm).
The usual assumption is that this potential for misunderstanding is bound to be a bad thing, but this is not necessarily so. Typically, in the formation of a paedophilic attachment, as in those between adults, the actual behaviour of either party develops not precipitately, but step by step: each stage is 'negotiated' by hints and signals, verbal and non-verbal, by which each indicates to the other what is acceptable and what is not.
In our example, the man might start by saying what pretty knickers the girl was wearing, and he would be far more likely to proceed to the next stage of negotiation if she seemed pleased by the remark than if she coloured up and closed her legs. Despite 'being wrong' about her intentional sexual seductiveness, he might never-the-less be right in gradually discovering that the child is one who likes to be cuddled and who thinks it great fun to be tickled under her knickers.
In addition, it should be remembered that even though the child's 'sexual' behaviour may not have been sexually motivated, this does not mean that she is totally unaware of her power to attract, which she may well use deliberately to gain attention and affection. The various 'participant victim' studies reveal that children in this category are, typically, affection-seeking. In the bodily closeness of a caressing and touching relationship, it is exactly this sought-after affection that the paedophile provides.
Nevertheless, as I say, the potential for a mismatching of sexual 'meanings' is usually cited as an argument against paedophilia, and indeed against viewing children as sexual beings at all; there are those who feel that any admission of their sexuality is likely to give encouragement to those who might leap to wrong conclusions. That there are men – particularly men – in our society who are presumptuous in matters of sex is all too obvious: nearly every woman is familiar with having to run an uncomfortable gauntlet of male presumptions, from wolf-whistling and 'flashing' to bum smacking and, for an unfortunate few, rape. As feminists have pointed out, some of this behaviour may spring not just from false presumptions as to what is acceptable to women, but from utter indifference to what is acceptable, or even from outright hostility.
At any rate, the fact is that we do live in a sexist society. Men are encouraged by their social and sexual upbringing towards exactly the attitudes of arrogant, aggressive, flesh-consumerism of which they stand accused. What's more, in accordance with what might be expected in such a society, it is a plain fact that some children are aggressively molested.
What I hope to show, however, is that there is much in consensual paedophilia, as opposed to child molesting, that presupposes a gentle, almost feminine type of sexual expression, rather than one which conforms to the masculine stereotype of dominance and aggression. Many people do not realise that there are consensual paedophilic acts, precisely because society makes no distinction between these acts and aggressively imposed ones. This absurdity is reflected in the legal phrase 'indecent assault', which covers not only cases of assault in the usual sense of that word, but acts which the child agreed to and perhaps, as is often the case, initiated.
The vast majority of sexual acts between children and adults are not aggressively imposed, any more than are those between adults, D. J. West had this to say about paedophiles:
'Far from being unrestrained sex maniacs their approaches to children are almost always affectionate and gentle, and the sex acts which occur, mostly mutual display and fondling, resemble the sexual behaviour that goes on between children.' 2
In one of the best known medical texts on paedophilia, Paedophilia and Exhibitionism: A Handbook by J.W. Mohr, R.E. Turner and M.B. Jerry, some figures are given which put the question of forcible sex in perspective:
'In regard to forcible sexual intercourse with children, some incidental, but little statistical material is available. Revitch et al. (1962), reporting on paedophilic offences in the New Jersey State Diagnostic Center, noted that "these offences are comparatively infrequent although they have been recorded in the literature". This would suggest that they did not find such a case among the 836 offenders against children at the Center. Miriam Darwin in the survey of seventy-four child victims in the California study was unable to show a case in which violence was used.'
A separate paper by Mohr and Turner 3 attempts to prick the bubble of paranoia which the subject evokes:
'Occurrences of paedophilia – literally, love of children – arouse the strongest public sentiments, at least in our society. Despite half a century of Freudian indoctrination about infantile sexuality and despite changes of attitude concerning most other sexual deviations, abhorrence and fear of paedophilia have not decreased. Through parents and schools and other community groups children are constantly warned to look out for "The Stranger" and to distrust anybody they do not know. Unfortunately the picture presented usually does not fit the facts of most cases and therefore affords little protection to the child. The danger of creating paranoid and xenophobic (fear of strangers) attitudes can be more damaging to child-rearing in general than paedophilic occurrences.
'It would seem sensible to warn a child not to accept rides from strangers, but the facts are that strangers are rarely involved in paedophilic acts; usually those involved are relatives, neighbours or others in the known environment of the child.'
The extensive publicity given to sexual murders of children, though understandable, is responsible for a totally false stereotype of the paedophile in the public imagination. It is often 'the picture of an unsuspecting child being attacked in a dark lane by an assailant who, but for some chance incident, would have proceeded to rape or even murder. Although repeated researches (see Radzinowicz, 1957) have shown with great consistency that sexual offenders tend to keep to one particular type of sexual behaviour, often of a very partial kind, and very rarely gravitate to more serious types, this fact is strongly resisted by even the informed public. The rare exceptions receive great publicity, and in a population of fifty million even a rare event occurs somewhere every month or so. Such stereotypes profoundly affect the attitude of parents.' 4
In later chapters I consider more subtle aspects of the question of aggression – the point at which it merges, for instance, with undue persuasion based on the authority of the adult. Let us for the moment consider the type of sexual activity preferred by paedophiles. In the most comprehensive study so far made of male sex offenders, Paul Gebhard 5 produced figures for the proportions of various sexual techniques employed in the 'offences'. (It should always be borne in mind, as stated earlier, that these findings, like so many research data, are based on offences which have resulted in a conviction, and are thereby heavily biased towards relationships which gave rise to complaint by the child.)
He found that non-coital sexual activity, mostly manipulation of the genitals, accounted for no less than 94 per cent of offences against girls under twelve. In offences against boys under twelve, an even larger proportion, 97 per cent did not involve anal intercourse, most of the activity being manual-genital (45 per cent) and oral-genital (38 per cent). Gebhard listed separately those offences in which there had been aggression against girls, a smaller, but significantly different group; in these cases, where a degree of violence or intimidation had been used, coitus was attempted in 23 per cent of cases, and was actually completed in a further 23 per cent. Interestingly, there were so few examples of aggression against young boys that Gebhard felt it unnecessary to include them as a separate category.
Paedophiles are for the most part interested in older children. A survey among members of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) showed that male paedophiles tend to be most attracted to boys aged 11 – 15, and to girls aged 8-11. This corresponds closely to findings by Mohr, Turner and Jerry and other researchers. Very few paedophiles are attracted to babies or infants, and although there is some interest (expressed as a minimum age of interest) in those aged five or six, 6 the preferred age appears to be considerably older.
For those who feel that consensual sex is a harmless and pleasant activity, the question of age is irrelevant but a study of the facts does give rise to at least one interesting point, spotted by Keith Hose, who prepared a survey of the membership of the Paedophile Information Exchange. He noticed a correlation between the distribution of age preference of paedophiles for boys, and a histogram prepared by Kinsey, showing the percentage of males involved in sex play at each pre-adolescent age. The distribution bore a close resemblance, so that it appears – if British boys are anything like those in the United States – that paedophiles are most attracted to boys at the age when they are most sexually active.
As Hose put it:
'It could be inferred that it is the interest in sexual activity in the child which initiates an attraction in the paedophile.'
The same could well be true for heterosexual male paedophiles: their interest is in slightly younger children – and the pre-adolescent sexual activity of girls tends to be concentrated, according to Kinsey, in a lower age range than pertains to boys. 7
So far, I have related facts largely about the overall known pattern of sexual acts between adults and children. Within this pattern, there is a crucial distinction to be made between those adults who actually prefer children as sexual partners and those who do not. There is reason to believe that, characteristically, the aggressive, 'sexist' use of girls as sex objects is attributable very largely to men with a predominantly ordinary, adult heterosexual orientation. These offenders tend to have a high level of criminality in non-sexual areas. They are often drunk at the time of the offence and simply use the child as an available, though to them inferior, substitute for the adult partner they would prefer. By no means all of the non-aggressive offenders prefer children either: they include a lot of men under stress when their marriage has broken up, and drink plays a large part in their offences too – usually followed by a 'hangover' which includes intense feelings of guilt. 8
I do not mean to suggest that those who have a sexual preference for children are thus automatically to be considered a better class of offender. There is no reason to suppose that anyone's sexual orientation per se has any intrinsic connection with her or his merit as a human being. But there is reason to suppose that many of those who prefer children want to relate well to them, in a way that does not apply to those for whom they are mere substitutes. Those who prefer children not surprisingly like to spend a lot of time in their company; they like to know them, and be friendly.
Just as 'straight' men go to considerable pains to make a good impression on their would-be sexual partners (even in our sexist society, rape is not the norm), so do many paedophiles. Finding that their sexual preference is for children, they also come to like and love them – an affectional response grows out of the erotic one. D.J. West has noted this. Writing of paedophiles he says:
'Their sincere fondness for the objects of their sexual desire sometimes leads them to quite striking acts of charity in efforts to further the child's happiness or future prospects.' 9
This benevolent outlook finds confirmation in a recent study by K. Howells of a group of non-aggressive offenders against girls:
'I feel . . . that children are likeable to paedophiles in ways that are not purely physical; this would be consistent with the idea that the paedophilic offender may actually feel affection for his victim. Lest you feel it is self-evident that someone committing a sexual assault likes his victim, I would point out that in a previous study I found results which suggested that some rapists, for example, commit offences in states of heightened anger arousal and appear to be concerned to hurt rather than to achieve sexual gratification.' 10
Which brings us to what exactly is meant when we talk of 'paedophilia' – for just as adults can misconstrue 'sexual' behaviour in children, so can non-paedophile adults misconstrue the 'sexual' intentions of paedophiles. The word itself has a medical ring to it, which is not surprising, as Krafft-Ebing coined the term 'paedophilia erotica' as part of a labelling process in which he put names to a whole range of sexual 'diseases'. For a variety of good reasons, many sexual radicals completely reject medically-derived means of categorisation, which since Krafft-Ebing's day have built up a picture of 'the homosexual' and 'the paedophile' as clinical entities: in so far as the raison d'etre of the medical descriptions is to oppress sexual minorities (to say nothing of the crude distortion of reality that simple labels impose on complex subject matter), I agree they are to be rejected; but the descriptions are also capable of being used analytically from a positive standpoint. 11
The Concise Oxford Dictionary 12 defines paedophilia as 'sexual love directed towards a child'. It is interesting that the endlessly difficult word 'love' should find a niche in this definition. I am glad that it has. I find it more appealing, more related to my own sentiments than the more colourless alternative 'sexual attraction towards a child', and the inclusion of the word 'love' automatically excludes the possibility of 'paedophilia' being used in the context of 'sexual hate directed towards a child', i.e. sex based on hostility, such as that involved in the sadistic rape or murder of a child.
There is an even more appropriate definition to be found in the psychiatric literature, in which a paedophile is defined as a person who 'requires the co-operation of a child partner of the same or opposite sex in order to achieve sexual gratification' 13 (my italics). What is being described here is what David Swanson calls 'the classic paedophile', whose other predominant characteristic is that he has a consistent and often exclusive interest in children as sexual partners. 14
What is meant by 'co-operation' here is that the paedophile is 'turned on' by situations in which the child is erotically active. As long ago as 1912 this was pointed out in an important and sometimes overlooked work by Moll, who wrote:
'handling the child's genitals plays the chief part, frequently because the offender can himself obtain sexual gratification only through inducing sexual excitement in the child and watching this excitement.' 15
The significance of this point is, I hope, obvious. Children are far more likely to reach sexual excitement if they are relaxed and happy in the paedophile's company than if they are being intimidated. The paedophile is virtually bound to seek their confidence in order to win their co-operation. This being the case, in addition to the strong possibility that he actually likes children, he has another powerful reason for wanting to relate well to them. All in all, he will want to be liked by children, and is likely to regard them as what the sociologists call 'significant others' – ones who count. Charles McCaghy has taken up this point:
'In symbolic interactionist terms, some adults see children as "significant others" whose judgements and appreciation are crucial for the adult's self concepts. Such adults would not jeopardise their self-concepts by committing acts which would detract from the child's regard for them. We suggested, therefore, that among molesters who regard children as significant others, the offence would be of a nature not likely to alienate or harm the child.' 16
McCaghy goes on in this study to develop this idea: that those who see children as 'significant others' would behave towards them both socially and sexually in a more acceptable way than would some others. He tested a hypothesis that they would in fact have more social involvement with children than other offenders against them. And indeed he did find that, 'As anticipated, no high interaction molester used any form of coercion, whereas over one third of the minimal interaction subjects did so.'
It is tempting to go on adding to a picture of 'the paedophile' (though there is no such single entity) by addressing myself to a whole variety of questions, both those which are popularly asked and those to which research has been addressed. Some such questions are interesting, 17 but the most distinctive feature of those that are asked most often is that they spring from fundamentally anti-sexual anxieties. So do questions about the 'victim', a classic example being the hoary old chestnut, 'Won't seduction by a man make a boy homosexual?' The radical answer is not to point out that copious research shows otherwise (which it does), but to say 'So what if it does? What's wrong with being gay?' Only when such an answer becomes acceptable will we be well on the way to a sexually liberated society. Only when people stop asking the question will we have achieved it.
At the same time, in relation to this particular question, I feel such a gauche answer is not appropriate, for I know there are otherwise intelligent, liberally-minded people whose dread of the idea that their own children might become homosexual has the force of a nightmare. As with other nightmares, the fear itself is the worst thing, in fact the only problem, though not everyone can be expected to realise that.
Let me then offer balm to the sweating brow: the weight of evidence is overwhelmingly that paedophilic seduction does not 'make boys gay' (or girls, for that matter). Perhaps, in view of its prestige, I need only quote the evidence of the Wolfenden Report:
'It is a view widely held and one which found favour among our police and legal witnesses, that seduction in youth is the decisive factor in the production of homosexuality as a condition, and we are aware that this view has done much to alarm parents and teachers. We have found no convincing evidence in support of this contention. Our medical witnesses unanimously held that seduction has little effect in producing a settled pattern. . . of homosexual behaviour, and we have been given no grounds from other sources which contradict their judgement.' 18
Gagnon and Simon have pointed out that psychosexual orientation and responses are not learned in specifically sexual situations anyway, but rather through non-sexual interactions in early childhood. By around the age of six, children have already developed ideas about what is 'male' and 'female' behaviour, and what is the 'right' behavioural pattern for them.' 19
More general anxieties on behalf of 'the victim', particularly the question of whether she or he will suffer psychological damage as a result of the experiences in question, are at least partly derived from the imposition of the very term 'victim' onto all child-adult sex relations, irrespective of whether they are forceful or gentle, unacceptable or acceptable to the child. The ultimate absurdity in clinging to the false distinction between 'molester' and 'victim' is to be found in a term encountered earlier, that of the 'participant victim'. Those researchers who adopted this curious term presumably felt they had to make some concession to orthodox thinking: society could not all at once be expected to understand the idea of child-adult sex in which there was no victimisation.
Perhaps because 'men' are assumed to be the victimisers, I find that women are more apt to cling to the image of the child as a victim. Yet, ironically, it is two women researchers who have done much to dispel this myth.
Lauretta Bender was one of them. Her description of a group of sexually active children 20 was followed up sixteen years later by a further study of the same children, 21 which looked into the question of whether there had been any discernible psychological damage evidenced in failure to develop a satisfactory adult life, both sexually and generally. She found no problems which she felt could reasonably be attributed to the sexual experiences. Remember seven-year-old Virginia, who had sex with a janitor? The experience neither put her off sex for life, nor made a nymphomaniac of her. She became a nurse, married at twenty-one and, in the words of the study, 'became a happy wife and mother'. What Bender does not relate, unfortunately, is whether the sense of guilt she tried to instil in Virginia about her sexual activities, during her hospital 'treatment', had any lasting effect. Did the rebuked child become a rebuking mother, anxious to make her own children guilty about their sexuality?
The psychological effects of sexual 'assault' on children have been researched on a scientifically rigorous basis (in a way which Bender's studies never pretended to be) by Lindy Burton. 22 Although Burton's study included cases which could properly be called 'assaults', she is at pains to emphasise the consensuality often present in others. She studied forty-one children who had been sexually assaulted and a control group of their age-mates. Six of the forty-one were boys; thirty-five were girls. At the time of the offence the majority were under ten years old and only four were in their teens. The offender was usually a neighbour or friend of the child's parents (15), or persons known to the child but unknown to the family (17). Most often they were workmen or tradespeople whom the child had formed a habit of visiting or helping. Generally, the incident took place in the friend's home, or place of employment, or in the child's own home.
Burton used two measures of personality adjustment with these children, one being the Bristol Social Adjustment Scale, which pinpoints the child's tendencies to emotional unsettledness, as recorded by a teacher at school. The other was the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), a standard personality test used by psychologists. This test involved the child in making up stories about a set of pictures. From the themes of these stories psychologists consider it possible to learn something of the child's fears, needs and emotions. All the children were seen twice, with a year's interval between testings. The first test took place on average two years after the assault.
As a result of these tests, Burton was able to detect distinct personality characteristics which set the 'assaulted' children apart from their age-mates:
'Perhaps the most significant single characteristic of sexually assaulted children is their tendency to seek affection. The characteristic was noted by teachers (who did not know of their sexual experience) on both year's testings. The most frequent comment regarding their behaviour was that they tended to sidle up to and hang around the teacher. In addition they were described as very anxious to bring objects to the teacher, always finding excuses for engaging him, very anxious to be in with the gang, trying to become the centre of attention, and tending to flashy dressing.' 23
While she suggests the possibility that the affection-seeking may represent a need to cling to familiar adults following an unsettling experience, Burton also recognises a totally different alternative (which is supported, as she says, by other studies) 24 that children who need affection meet their sexual experiences in the course of their search for it. Burton even concedes that a further possibility cannot be ignored:
'The affection seeking behaviour observed in this study might also indicate an attempt on the part of the child to replace the adult with whom he had a sexual relationship. As many previous studies have suggested, children do not always view the sexual act as distasteful and many children may gain considerable comfort from thinking themselves loved and wanted by an adult. For this reason, the child's resentment of the figures of authority, observed in the classroom, 25 may stem from his dislike of all those who might possibly have condemned his relationship with his "friend".'
Burton's work was not designed to test the motive behind affection-seeking behaviour, however; so far as her study is concerned, the above comments are only speculations. More important is her overall conclusion, that
'The sexual assault does not appear to have an excessively unsettling effect on the child's personality development, as seen in his behaviour. One is forced to the conclusion therefore that subject children have suffered little lasting fear or anxiety as a result of their sexual experience.'
Interestingly enough, some studies have indicated 26 that those children who appear to make the quickest 'recovery' from sexual 'assault', are not the 'participant victims' but the 'accidental' ones: the minority who are molested in the true sense, in public parks, playgrounds and so on. Yet the paradox is easily explained. The 'accidental' victim is likely to receive a great deal of parental sympathy and support in relation to the incident. On the other hand, the child who is 'found out' having a relationship with an adult is likely to be made to feel guilty about it – especially by parents struggling to repress any unwelcome thoughts that their own inadequacies (especially in failing to give their child affection) could be responsible for the relationship developing in the first place. The issue is complicated slightly by the fact that some 'participant victims' come from homes which show no sensitivity at all to the prevailing sexual mores of society. Such homes are over-represented in Bender's studies, and perhaps in Burton's too, to a lesser degree, so we should not be too surprised at Burton's comment that 'As a group, these sexually assaulted children . . showed no inordinate amount of guilt or anxiety following the affair. . .
The real disturbance may be much greater, however, in cases where the parents are very strong on 'morals', but not so good at being warm and loving towards their children.
Typically, the harm begins to make itself felt in the often hysterical initial reaction of the parents. Father Michael Ingram, a Roman Catholic priest and child counsellor, has described the process in all its misery, from the moment of parental discovery to the retribution exacted by the courts: 27
'Take the case of an eleven-year-old boy whose parents overheard him tell his brother about a man who was "having sex" with him. There was a family scene, mother crying, father pacing up and down and vowing he would "kill the bastard". The police were called in. The boy was interrogated over and over again by both parents and police. The boy was taken to the police station where he was told to lower his trousers. A doctor examined his penis, retracting the foreskin. The boy was made to bend down while the doctor put a lubricated rubber sheath on his finger which he inserted into the boy's rectum. The man was charged, denied it, and the boy was examined by the magistrates. The man was remanded on bail, so in order to prevent the boy meeting him again, he was sent to stay with relatives in Ireland until the trial three months later.
'What seems to have happened was that the boy was rather deprived of affection from his parents who were cold and undemonstrative. He had often allowed the man to cuddle him, and this sometimes led to the man feeling him inside his trousers. If one can make a strong attempt to master the disgust this might evoke, and consider the possible damage done to the boy by being starved of love at home, by enduring the anger, fearful interrogation, and most of all by submitting to the formal repetition by the doctor of the acts which were causing all the trouble, one can see that the offender was the last one from whom the boy needed protection. As a psychiatrist involved in the case put it, "If he hadn't been buggered by the man, he certainly had been by the doctor."' 28
'The offender in this case was sent to prison, where he pretended to be there for larceny. He was put in the ordinary wing. His secret was discovered and he was beaten up, suffering severe injuries. He lost his job, was cut off from his family and his voluntary social work. He had done a great deal for his local community, especially for the children, and all this was forgotten. At the age of twenty-six he was a ruined man because he showed too much love for a little boy.
'Nine years later the boy is now twenty, cold, repressed, afraid of sex, isolated and friendless, depending on anti-depressants to make his moods tolerable.'
Readers may remember for themselves the 1977 case of a woman teacher tried at Lewes Crown Court for an alleged case of sexual intercourse with an eleven-year-old boy pupil. She was acquitted, so we must presume that actual sex did not take place, notwithstanding the boy's evidence that it did. Nevertheless there was plainly a loving relationship between the two – love letters and endearments were exchanged, and the child showed every sign of experiencing this relationship as a positive thing.
All that very rapidly changed with the involvement of the law. The boy's father, as chance would have it, was a policeman. When he discovered the relationship, by accident, not by the boy's complaint, he felt that his son must be made to give evidence against the woman, in the public interest. As a result the boy had to go through the full routine of police questioning his father admitted grilling him as he would any other witness – and had to wait nine months or so for the case to come to trial. By which time he could well have got over the supposed horrors of the loving relationship. He might even have got over the initial questioning, but instead he had to suffer the whole affair being brought back under the spotlight. He had to stand up in the witness box, with a packed press gallery eager to record every detail, and – perhaps worst of all – had to face a necessarily intimidatory defence barrister whose task it was to make every effort to confuse him and make him out to be a liar.
Not surprisingly, the strain was too much for him. He broke down in tears more than once in the witness box, only to be called inexorably back to face his tormentors. And all this in the name of protecting the child! In the end the case was lost by the prosecution, and all that had been achieved was the public branding of the boy as a liar, and the embarrassment of an apparently kind and loving lady who was made to look a fool or worse.
With a kind of symbolic idiocy that completely sums up this asinine approach to child 'protection', the father declared after the verdict that his own course of action had been the right one and that 'I would make my boy go through it all again.' For what, one wonders? 29
Not all those involved in the prosecution process are that dogmatic, thank goodness. In a letter to The Times, 30 a police surgeon of twenty-five years' standing echoed Ingram's feelings by pronouncing that legal proceedings in most paedophilic cases do the children more harm than good – and he was honest and courageous enough to admit that the examinations of children he had been obliged to conduct over the years contributed much towards this harm.
Such enlightenment is rare, however, and the usual lot of paedophiles and their child lovers is not a happy one once the police become involved. PIE's own evidence cites the case of a young paedophile, himself a boy of only fifteen, who was beaten up every day of his remand at Risley, near Manchester. Some prisoners cut his back with sharpened combs and the boy attempted suicide.
A homosexual counselling agency heard the following story from one of its clients, 'Jack', in the 1960s. When he was about forty, Jack had a sexual relationship with a sixteen-year-old boy. The boy was arrested in connection with another relationship and was interrogated by the police. Under pressure, he divulged the names of other men, including Jack. Subsequently, the boy committed suicide. When the police arrested Jack he was told, 'Your young friend has killed himself: it's probably the best thing he could have done.' Jack, who loved the boy, attempted suicide himself soon after, and several times since.
Even in enlightened Holland, the police have been known to pressurise children into admitting their sexual involvement with an adult, though such incidents are now much less common than they used to be. Dr Brongersma writes:
'Only three years ago in our own country, a thirteen-year-old boy was questioned from nine o'clock in the morning until five o'clock in the afternoon in a small barred cell in a police station in order to extract evidence from him. He stubbornly maintained that nothing had happened, until the examiner said, "Good. If you keep on lying we will have to turn your friend loose. But your father has told me that he will waylay the fellow and kill him. Then your friend will be dead and your father will get fifteen years in the clink for murder. And all because you persist in lying." Thereupon the young boy told everything, after which he went into a total psychological collapse.' 31
The situation is a good deal worse in the United States. NBC journalist Robin Lloyd has reported 32 that the police there have been known to go to amazing lengths in order to get youngsters to 'confess' their sexual involvement with an adult: in one case such a confession was extracted by dangling a boy by his ankles over a cliff until he talked. In such a case there is no difficulty at all in identifying the child as a 'victim' – but not a victim of a sexual relationship with an adult. 33 33
Strange, isn't it, that society professes a concern for the child and obsessively keeps her/him away from adult sexuality as an expression of this concern, yet when – for whatever reasons – sexual contacts are found to have occurred, the child's real interests fly out of the window. She or he may then be harangued by parents and the police, subjected to medical examination, dragged through the courts and debarred from seeing the adult friend in question. Some concern!
A challenge has been made in this chapter to the validity of two linked concepts: that of seeing the paedophile as necessarily a molester, or would-be molester, and that of the child as being always a victim. The question of the physical, as opposed to psychological, ways in which a child could become a victim is considered separately in Chapter 6, in relation to PIE's proposals on the age of consent.
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