The Effect on Children
The Medical and Legal ‘Solution’
The Myth of the Molester
The Effect on Children
When Clarence Osborne carefully placed a hose from the exhaust into his car and patiently waited for the fumes to kill him he was undoubtedly choosing what he saw as the best of alternatives open to him. For if he had waited for the police to return and arrest him his tribulations would have just begun. A punitive criminal justice system would undoubtedly have incarcerated him in one of Her Majesty’s prisons where the full fury of fellow prisoners would have descended upon him. Between the time of his arrest and imprisonment the media would have scapegoated and stereotyped him in ways that only paedophiles could anticipate.
Central to the fury and wrath exhibited by both the media and the criminal justice system is the common belief that Clarence Osborne’s activities adversely affected the children he had relationships with. According to certain people sexual relationships with children must have a negative effect on children, especially on their sexual orientation. One policeman, reflecting the community’s view on the subject put the argument bluntly, ‘We’ve probably got a race of bloody poofters around now as a result of what that man did during his lifetime; it’s probably just as well for everyone he died in the way he did.’
A man who fleetingly met Osborne during his training as a shorthand reporter in the courts reinforced the police attitude to the Osborne case. According to this man what Osborne did was ‘to stop kids becoming just normal kids and made them into homos’. This workmate of Osborne went on to venture that, ‘Those kids would have grown up to be normal kids just like you and I if it wasn’t for that queer. [*1]
The assumption behind these observations is that the encounters that Osborne had with his partners psychologically disturbed the youths and determined their sexual orientations later on in life. The Clarence Osbornes of this world, it appears, are given almost magical powers to substantially alter the sexual inclinations of young males as a result of transient or, in some cases, multiple contacts. While this may not be the only reason for vengeance towards adults who sexually relate to children, it has in itself sufficient potency to explain the antagonism displayed towards paedophiles.
Nearly all who speak or write on adult-child sexual encounters presume that all such contacts constitute abuse. As Larry Constantine writes in his paper on the ‘Sexual Rights of Children’, this view ultimately rests on the notion that children are neither sexual nor possessors of sexual rights.’ But if, as seems perfectly reasonable in light of the evidence, children are seen as sexual beings with some rights to express themselves erotically, then not all sexual contact between adults and children can properly be called abuse. Psychiatrists Brant and Tisza are two of the few who have attempted to differentiate abuse from non-abuse. They define sexual misuse as:
What Brant and Tisza are suggesting is that the effects of a sexual experience on the child can differ according to the circumstances and that the effects themselves might distinguish sexual abuse of children by adults from legitimate and constructive sexual expressions of affection between children and adults. This of course begs the question of just what are the effects of adult-child sexual encounters? Many men who had a relationship with Osborne when they were young considered that the older man had a minimal effect on their sexual and social development. Not one person I interviewed implied that he changed his sexual orientation as a result of the physical contacts that occurred between himself and Osborne. Nor did any, for that matter, complain of Osborne having adversely affected their psychological functioning and social skills when they grew up. Of course the limitations of these declarations are obvious because I saw only a small number of the young males who had relationships with Osborne. However when we turn to the scientific literature on the topic similar information is found.
Larry Constantine is among many scientists who have carried out extensive reviews of literature on child-adult sexual contacts. In reviewing 130 separate sources on the subject Constantine concluded that: ‘Immediate negative reactions are minor or completely absent in the majority of cases and significant long-term psychological or social impairment is rare.’ [*3] As Constantine points out, this is a remarkable finding as most of the studies carried out on children who had sexual contact with adults were conducted with young males who were referred to psychologists for counselling, or alternatively who came from juvenile or adult penal institutions. These are clearly very biased sources of information and the fact that even with this selective sample negative results were found would indicate that, if nothing else, the psychological effects of adult-child sexual encounters are minimal indeed.
These findings are important when one considers that it is relatively common for young men to have had, during the course of their lives, a sexual relationship with an older man. For example, among the English youth studied by Schofield [*4] 35 per cent described at least one such experience and similar proportions have been obtained by Gibbins [*5] in the United States and by Tolsma [*6] in Holland. In the latter study Tolsma traced 133 men who had had homosexual contacts with adults when they were children. All but eight were married and had not continued homosexual practices. A long-term detailed follow-up by Bender and Grugett of a small group of child victims of molestation also led to the conclusion that the experience did not usually affect sexual adjustment adversely, provided the child was not in some way disturbed to begin with. [*7] Bender and others have pointed out that children starved of affection or attention from their parents might well be those most likely to suffer adverse consequences. But this is only conjecture as any character or sexual disorders that manifest themselves in later life could result from lack of affection in the family rather than from the sexual contact with a male.
These studies, together with others done by people such as Rasmussen [*8] and Burton, [*9] also highlight the fact that many of the children involved in adult-child relationships, even if they do not actively solicit sexual contacts, are easily lured by small bribes or by reassurance from a trusted adult and often become quite eager participants once contact is made. Any subsequent distress that occurs is far more likely to arise from the shock of discovery by other people and the ensuing criminal justice machine that is propelled into action. Police enquiries, family recriminations, court appearances and the prosecution of the offender are all situations that lead to considerable anxiety in the children. As well, children and adolescents are often distressed when the older male lover is punished by imprisonment and unable to see the child again.
Where the literature suggests that negative consequences of a short or long term nature occur as a result of child-adult sexual contacts, it is found that the consequences are generally associated with three common factors. The first relates to a situation where physical force, coercion or psychological pressure is used. The most adverse reactions occur when physical violence is involved, especially when the child attempts to resist but is unsuccessful. The second negative consequence occurs when poor communications exist in the child’s family. Sexual matters cannot be discussed openly and the child receives, or anticipates receiving strongly negative reactions to disclosure of sexual activities. The third relates to a situation where there is little sexual knowledge on the part of the child or alternatively where the child has absorbed parental values suggesting that sex is dirty, painful or frightening. But even when the last two conditions exist the effects, the research would suggest, are nowhere near as traumatic as popular folklore would have it. [*10]
Let us consider these factors in relation to Clarence Osborne. The man never used force so this factor cannot be considered when discussing allegations of harm in his case. It is true that many of the young males Osborne had relations with came from families where there was no communication about sexual matters, but most were able to talk about sex with their friends and did not appear from Osborne’s tape-recordings to be particularly guilt-ridden about disclosing their sexual aspirations and fears. The young males who were involved with Osborne were often ignorant about sexual matters, but I am not convinced that they were any more ignorant than other young males who did not meet Osborne. In short, it seems to me that in the case of Clarence Osborne there is no scientific evidence to suggest that in the vast majority of cases — perhaps as much as 99 per cent of them — negative consequences would have resulted from the relationships that developed.
All of this, of course, does not mean that we can categorically assume that Osborne had no effect on the sexual orientation of the boys and adolescents he had relationships with. But the accumulated evidence from all the research that has been done by physiologists, psychologists, and sociologists on sexual behaviour would strongly indicate that any individual’s sexual orientations are the result of a diverse range of experiences and do not develop as the result of isolated encounters with owe person. [*11] This is not to deny the possibility that some boys may have found their encounters with Osborne so pleasurable that they developed homosexual inclinations. Such cases, however, would have been very rare and the change may well have occurred even if Clarence Osborne had not been present as a result of the boy developing relationships with males of his own age later on in life.
What can we then conclude from the studies done of boy-men relationships and from the experience gained by analysing Osborne’s case? To begin with, it appears that what really determines the outcome of the relationship is what a paedophile does with a boy and how he does it. In other words, if force is used or if fraud and trickery are predominant in the approaches made by the paedophile to the boy, then the psychological effects on the boy are likely to be adverse. If, as with the case of most homosexual boy prostitutes, a consensual agreement is negotiated between the boy and the man then the psychological and sexual effects on the boy will be minimal. For it should not be forgotten that the vast majority of boy prostitutes are heterosexual in orientation and remain so for the rest of their lives. The literature strongly suggests that in nearly every instance in which the boy displayed a heterosexual interest, the interest was not interfered with by a sexual experience with an older man. [*12] It is therefore foolish to assume categorically that man-boy relationships are inevitably traumatic for the boy.
Unfortunately the law and the criminal justice system have reinforced all the social stereotypes concerning the effects of man-boy sexual relationships and have ignored the scientific realities of such relationships. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the case of incest. Here, heavy penalties await the father who has had sexual relationships with the daughter, and as a result of this imprisonment, an often already economically underprivileged family is thrown into poverty. In incest cases as well as in paedophile cases, the so-called ‘victims’ suffer from criminal justice interventions because they are removed from the home environment for their ‘own good’. And the removal of the child from his or her family home can be more devastating that the actual sexual act that occurred.
The Medical and Legal ‘Solution’
The harshness of the law and how it deals with paedophiles has been amply demonstrated throughout this book. It is very common for paedophiles to receive far longer prison sentences than rapists, even though consent was present in the former case but not in the latter. This savagery is perpetrated within the custodial institution itself and there are many cases around the world of paedophiles being brutally assaulted or murdered by prisoners who, in their attempts to establish a hierarchy of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ criminals, unleash society’s vengeance upon them.
The rage and fury that the community generates towards men who love boys is illustrated by the recent prosecution by the British police of the English-based paedophile organisation known as PIE. Several of the executive members of that organisation have been charged with conspiracy to commit a crime. At the time of writing this book the trial had not yet proceeded but it was clear that the British police were mounting a concentrated attack against the organisation. In surveying most copies of their newsletter, I found nothing in it that could be assumed to be soliciting on the part of PIE members. On the contrary, the organisation went to great lengths to de-eroticise their publication, preferring to make the paper a self-help vehicle for paedophiles who were concerned about their social and legal position. There were, as with many other similar publications, advertisements placed by paedophiles wanting to get in contact with others who had similar interests, but in no way could these advertisements be construed as soliciting for boys. It can only be concluded that the conspiracy charge was brought by the police, not because of anything that the organisation was doing which was criminal, but because the very existence of such an organisation and a paper offended both the government’s and the police’s sense of morality.
The response of the criminal justice system both to the ‘victim’ and ‘offender’ in adult-child cases is counter-productive. We have already seen that the older male is treated with contempt by both the police and the courts and little sympathy is shown towards the way he will be treated in prison. Similarly, the young male’s treatment bears a remarkable similarity to that received by incest victims. In both paedophilia and incest considerable distress to the boy or girl occurs when parents, relatives or the police themselves discover the relation-ship. Constant and often insensitive questioning adds to this distress and it is not unusual to find that many researchers have noted that far more damage is caused by the confrontations the child has with his parents or the legal authorities than by the act itself. [*13]
In the case of homosexual molestation of a son by his father—a much less common occurrence than incest with a daughter — a similar distressful situation arises for the son. These cases usually occur in situations where severely disordered family relationships are present and the possible effects of the sexual incidents cannot be separated from those due to other unfavourable influences in the boy’s life. Such considerations have led workers in the field to devise model interviewing procedures for incest victims which attempt to minimise the effect that police or social work questioning has on the child.
No such consideration has yet been given to children in paedophilia cases, although some recent developments are encouraging. The inadequacy of the legal response to paedophiles is based partly on ignorance about them. Despite the rhetoric to the contrary, it is only a small minority of paedophiles who have criminal or anti-social tendencies and use aggressive sexual overtures in approaching children of either sex. Like Clarence Osborne, most paedophiles are isolated, passive personalities who find it hard to compete with their socially more robust male peers. Those whose attachment to children persists into later life become the typical fixated, exclusive paedophiles, who are liable to repeated convictions for indecent acts with children and whose prospects of change are rather poor. The statistics, however, show that the great majority of first offenders in cases of child molestation are never reconvicted. [*14] The sociological evidence suggests that many prosecutions, particularly of youthful offenders , arise out of incidental circumstances which are unlikely to be repeated, or alternatively out of the frustrations of young people who have not yet acquired acceptable techniques for forming relation-ships with people of their own age. [*15]
West, in summarising the numerous surveys conducted on paedophiles, demonstrates that there is substantial agreement about the usual characteristics of these men and about the nature and circumstances of their offences. [*16] For example, whether the paedophiles choose male or female children, they tend to be lonely, socially isolated and sexually inhibited individuals. As we have seen in chapter three they frequently come from homes where sex was a taboo subject and sexual instruction completely lacking. Far from being unrestrained sex maniacs — the common view taken by both police and judges — their approaches to children are almost always affectionate and gentle and the sexual acts which occur are mostly mutual display and genital fondling, resembling the typical sexual behaviour which goes on between children.
Unwilling or unresponsive children are simply not pursued by paedophiles because it is easy enough for them to find responsive children amongst their neighbours or acquaintances. This pattern of making contact with such young people is particularly true for men who like young girls, because young girls are more protected than boys and less likely to go unaccompanied to cinemas, parks, sporting fields and similar places. And contrary to community expectations, paedophiles rarely hang around public toilets for they know that such places are hardly ever visited by boys looking for sex but are often visited by adults who would disapprove strongly of any approaches made by an adult to a youth.
Despite all this evidence on the passivity and non-aggressive nature of paedophiles, the monster myth continues to dominate the response of both the legal and medical authorities. The medical profession, for example, has proposed procedures for dealing with paedophiles that are both brutal and inhumane. In Germany, Denmark, Finland, Poland, Australia, England, and the United States, doctors have experimented with attempting to change the sexual inclinations of such men by drug or surgical procedures. Generally speaking this has been done without the consent of the men involved and with no regard to other possible options. Occasionally, drug or surgical ‘solutions’ have been imposed as a penal sanction or as an alternative to imprisonment or long continued penal detention. German law, for example, introduced penal castration for paedophiles and other sexual criminals officially evaluated as being ‘dangerous’. It is slightly ironic that the statute was passed in 1933 during the Nazi regime. Denmark, where castration of sex criminals became an acceptable preliminary to release from detention, operated a law as early as 1929 permitting castration provided the offender himself petitioned to have it done. And although it is illegal under the United States Constitution, there have been innumerable cases of judges in remote areas of America who have granted a paedophile probation or a suspended sentence on the condition that he agree to surgical castration. [*17]
Castration, of course, is not confined to paedophiles. Kinsey reports, with considerable disapproval, on a paper presented by Hawke in 1950 summarising a psychiatric study in Kansas where 330 male castrates furnished material for a nine-year research programme. [*18] In the sample, boys as young as eight were all castrated because they were considered to be a ‘defective delinquent group’. Such a study emulates prior American research conducted by Flood who castrated twenty-four males, half of them under fourteen years of age, ‘for persistent masturbation and epilepsy’. [*19] The damage done to paedophiles and other young and old males in the interest of ‘science is appalling and makes one wonder who really are the ‘monsters’ — the paedophiles or the psychiatrists?
In surgical castration the testes are removed with the penis remaining anatomically intact. However, by cutting off the body’s main source of androgenic hormone there is a concurrent reduction in the potency of the sexual drive. A variety of studies have reported on the results of this operation. For example, Bremer researched the effects of legal castration in Norway and found that only a minute proportion (1—2 per cent) were detected in any further sex crime. [*20] As West points out, considering that many of these men had committed sex offences on a number of different occasions before being castrated, the results from the criminal justice standpoint might well be regarded as being highly satisfactory. [*21]
No such satisfaction, however, can be obtained from these studies. Recent clinical evidence suggests that the results are not as glowing as some doctors and judges would like us to believe. Often the individual who is castrated sublimates his anger and hostility into other kinds of crime as a way of ‘getting back’ at the society that has mutilated his body. [*22] Furthermore, despite castration, some men never lose their virility completely as glands other than the testes provide sufficient androgens to maintain sexual interest. [*23] There can therefore be no guarantee that such men will not attempt to relate sexually to the person that they were involved with in the first place.
In addition, castration often leads to enormously embarrassing side-effects such as the formation of feminine contours of fat, loss of beard and body hair and the development of a smooth, facial complexion. Often the offender feels his body has been further mutilated by society and hits back at it in violent sexual and non-sexual ways. [*24]
Even more severe medical ‘treatments’ have been attempted such as that proposed by the German neurosurgeon Roeder, using a technique of inserting electrodes into the brain to destroy the ventro-medical nucleus by electrical burning. [*25] The use of suppressant drugs, many with the female sex hormonal oestrogens, are frequently prescribed for those who are called male sex deviants and, like the surgical techniques, the side-effects have been particularly painful and often dangerous. [*26]
In general, the attempts by psychiatrists and psychologists to change happy homosexuals to unhappy heterosexuals have been dismal to say the least. This is particularly so when homosexuals are coerced into some form of psychological or psychiatric treatment such as behavioural modification techniques. In the case of paedophiles the situation is even worse. Unlike homosexuals paedophiles have major external reasons for changing their behaviour — the social condemnation of their sexuality and the fear of criminal justice system repercussions are stronger than is the case with the homo-sexual. On the other hand, their fixation with young males is usually obsessive and few have any motivation to change their behaviour, preferring to suffer instead the loneliness and isolation that results from their lifestyle.
Some researchers consider that the prospects of diverting the paedophile’s interest from younger boys to older males are better than the prospects of conversion to heterosexuality, but in both cases the chances of a conversion are slim. And whether it is a result of their sexual orientation or the social isolation that results from that orientation, it is clear that unlike the adult homosexual, many paedophiles are conspicuously anxious, confused personalities who would have difficulty in adjusting to an adult homosexual sub-culture even if ‘treatment’ was in fact successful.
West reports that claims have been made for the successful treatment of paedophiles by group discussion and individual psycho-therapy, or alternatively by conditioning methods and even by training in masculine assertiveness. [*27] A perusal of these studies, however, shows that the successes involve only isolated cases and cannot be taken as indicative of the efficacy of these techniques generally. In most cases where ‘success’ is claimed we find that the paedophile has unique personal and/or social characteristics that do not allow us to generalise about the treatment of boy lovers as a whole. For example, Edwards describes one case history of a man who was in serious difficulties from compulsive homosexual paedophilia over a ten-year period. [*28] After a series of behavioural modification techniques, including instruction in self-assertion, the client became satisfactorily adjusted with a permanent female partner. But this unusually favourable outcome was undoubtedly due to the fact that the man had had some heterosexual experience in the past and was married to a woman with whom he had a fairly satisfactory relationship. Edwards reports that the man was previously a resentfully submissive husband but after training in self-assertion he derived much satisfaction and gratification from practising his heterosexual domineering ways with his wife. While many paedophiles are married, very few have supportive and under-standing wives who have the patience and the inclination to help in the time-consuming and often very emotionally threatening therapy of the sort that Edwards describes. In the case of Clarence Osborne these external support systems were not operating and it seems highly unlikely that, no matter what the treatment was, Osborne would have changed his sexual orientation, even if it is assumed that he wanted to.
The justification adopted by many medical and legal men for. applying, in the case of paedophiles, barbaric ‘treatment’ procedures such as castration and suppressive drugs, is that they are doing this for the man’s own good. The professionals argue that paedophiles risk repeated prison sentences of increasing severity if they do not curb their sexual inclinations and so suppressant techniques such as hormones, chemical castration or electro-convulsive shock therapy become fully justified.
Is it justifiable to alter the physical appearance and psychological make-up of a person without his consent because one disagrees with his sexual tendencies? If we see castration and brain surgery as essential for helping people towards a better lifestyle, then such people as doctors, lawyers or social workers should seriously question their role as ‘helper’. These, the moral priests together with politicians, religious priests, warlords, slave owners and others, have for centuries unsuccessfully tried to force men to take moral options. In doing this they have robbed individuals of their true personality and liberty. Changing a man’s body and mind by surgical procedures imposes the tyranny of physical and psychological coercion disguised as therapeutic intervention. It therefore comes as no surprise to find that many paedophiles will say that they prefer imprisonment, with all its brutality, to the mind and body destroying treatment offered by contemporary psychiatry.
The Myth of the Molester
A major reason for the media and police’s violent reaction to the Osborne case was that both groups assumed that Osborne ‘molested’ young children. The myth of the paedophile as a molester is a myth of major proportions and permeates most of the thinking on this issue. It is assumed, for example, that paedophiles are more likely to murder young boys than normal heterosexuals. And, so the view goes, if they do not murder the boys, then at least they use force or trickery to entice them into a sexual relationship.
Views of the paedophile are reinforced continuously by the written word and by television and film portrayals of men who have relation-ships with boys. In Houston, Texas, the American killer Dean Allen Corll was found to have employed two teenage youths to procure adolescents and boys for sexual purposes. The victims were tied to a hoard, sexually abused and tortured and then disposed of by shooting or strangling. [*29] Similarly the mass murderer Ian Brady sexually attacked juveniles of both sexes, tortured them, recorded their cries of anguish and then murdered them. But as West observes, ‘These cases are excessively rare and puzzling and no generalisations about their psychology can be made with any safety.’ [*30]
Television often highlights in documentary form cases of men who love boys and use devious, if not violent means to entice them. In a well-publicised television programme created by the BBC entitled ‘Johnny Come Home’ a story was told of a man with a criminal record who claimed to be a priest and ran hostels for homeless men and youths for charity. According to the documentary the man would pick up destitute youngsters arriving from the provinces at London railway stations and would offer them accommodation at his hostel. The boys soon found that even though they did not have to pay in money for staying at the hostel, they had to engage in sexual relations with the man.
The view of the paedophile as nasty and devious was perpetrated by the documentary demonstrating that the man made substantial profits from charging different charities for the same boys. It was quite clear that this particular man was far from conscientious in seeing to the needs of the boys. Revelations indicating that he had a number of homosexual associates to whom he would pass on youngsters who no longer took his eye also added to the molester image. During the film the man was shown clothed in religious garments recruiting clients and describing his charitable activities in sanctimonious terms.
Originally the film was to be shown as an example of a good man works. However a murder had taken place at one of his ‘homes’ and police inquiries subsequently exposed the sex scandal and the frauds. Consequently the bogus priest was imprisoned and several of the man’s adult friends were charged with homosexual offences. This did not stop the television company from going ahead with the film and by a careful piece of editing they were able to show the film to a huge viewing audience as an example of paedophiles preying on innocent young children.
The reality concerning paedophile approaches to children is very different from that shown in ‘Johnny Come Home’. Aggressive sexual overtures and a willingness to approach children of either sex are unusual for adults who have a sexual interest in children. To be sure these features do appear with some degree of frequency amongst a very small minority of paedophiles who have criminal tendencies in respects other than their sexual habits. But careful studies in Australia and the United Kingdom demonstrate that paedophiles have a lower rate of violence when it comes to children than do other groups in the community. [*31]
An analogous situation is the position of homosexual teachers at schools. For years education departments, anti-homosexual groups and individual crusaders argued that young children would be in danger if homosexuals were allowed to teach in schools. Careful studies, however, have unequivocally demonstrated that homosexual persons have a far lower rate of molesting children in school than do their heterosexual counterparts. [*32]
A massive study of thousands of convicted sex offenders conducted by the Institute for Sex Research in Indiana confirms the view that while paedophiles form a group distinct from the ordinary homosexual population, their rate of violent assault on another person is very low. [*33] The Institute’s study demonstrated that the most aggressive types of men were those whose primary interest was with women and this particular group was marked by occasionally brutal attacks upon female children. The Institute noted that physical violence, though not unknown, is far less common in cases of sexual interference with young boys. As the principal of the Kinsey study noted, ‘In our total of 18 000 interviews, no man or woman reported being victimised, as a child, by a sadist. Child murders in connection with sexual activity receive great publicity which gives the impression that they are not infrequent; actually they are extremely rare.’ [*34]
Other researchers come to precisely the same conclusion. Thus Mohr in reviewing figures on heterosexual paedophilia found coitus rare and commented that, ‘The great majority of sexual acts in heterosexual paedophilia consist of sexplay types — such as looking, showing, fondling and being fondled.’ [*35] And yet another researcher, Gagnon, in reviewing his findings concludes:
These and every other major study done on paedophiles find the use of force a very rare phenomenon. Clarence Osborne was no exception to this rule. The vast majority of his activities were not of an aggressive, forceful kind but instead involved touching the boys’ bodies, exhibiting penises and, most commonly, masturbation. And as with the experience of most other paedophiles, Osborne often did not have to entice some of the boys he had relations with as they came to him and initiated much of the activity. The myth of the molester is therefore a very large myth indeed. The myth’s existence, however, ensures that paedophiles are hounded by criminal justice agencies rather than, upon detection, being calmly and dispassionately judged and sentenced.
If society is going to continue to assume that paedophiles should be subjected to criminal sanctions, then we are still left with the question of what should happen legally to both the victim and the offender if detection of their relationships occurs. To answer this question it might be salutary to return once again to the analogous crime of incest.
Generally in cases of incest where detection occurs, disastrous results occur for the adult and for the child. Take the case of father-daughter incest where, because of complaints by a neighbour or by the child herself, the police are called in to take action. What appears to happen in most cases is that the father is charged with incest and typically sent to jail for a substantial period of time. The mother, who as often as not knows that the incestuous relationship was occurring, is then placed in a position where she becomes economically at risk. The daughter is seen by welfare authorities and because the family is poor and now fatherless, the state considers she is at risk and requires institutionalisation in a government welfare or juvenile home. There she often languishes in an impersonal bureaucratic setting en-cumbering all the disadvantages that such institutions inevitably provide. In effect, the victim has been doubly punished by not only the act of incest itself, but also by the response of the legal and welfare authorities to her predicament.
An alternative approach in dealing with incest offenders and the children who are involved with them is to adopt a more humanitarian strategy which does not involve a punitive criminal justice system. Under this approach welfare workers attempt to alleviate the situational, psychological and economic factors that might have contributed towards creating the incestuous relationship. Under this strategy the father and husband would not initially be sent to jail, but instead would be asked to participate in well-designed family therapy programmes which attempt to locate the problems in the family structure that led to the incestuous situation in the first place. [*37]
The programme would continue by providing economic and welfare support to the families so that some financial and social security could be regained in the home. Obviously if the child in the incestuous relationship is suffering from traumas associated either with the attack itself or with the shock which occurred after the detection of the relationship with the father, then long-term supportive therapy would be provided.
This approach will not work in some cases. The literature on incest suggests that many offenders will never change their behaviour patterns and may attempt to enter into relationships with their children again. [*38] There is, however, sufficient evidence of successful intervention in these cases to warrant society taking a more humanistic approach to incest than the alternative damaging criminal justice approach. And it should never be forgotten that the ultimate sanction of imprisonment is always open to welfare or legal authorities with an offender who refuses to co-operate with this more humanistic approach.
The incest experience is a salutary lesson for those concerned with paedophilia. If we insist in keeping paedophilia as a crime, then I suggest that a more constructive approach in dealing with both the victims and the offenders be instituted. In the case of Clarence Osborne the scenes that would have occurred if he had not taken his life might well have been destructive for all. Osborne undoubtedly would have gone to prison and either through his own hand or those of other inmates, died. Many of the boys he had been involved with would have been subjected to rigorous police examination and some undoubtedly, would have been further traumatised by presenting evidence in court.
As with incest offenders there are more constructive alternatives. For example in the Atascadero State Hospital in California there are approximately two hundred paedophiles. West reports that in the past, in spite of the widespread use of aversive methods to produce conversion to asexuality or heterosexuality, many of the patients were found ‘unamenable’ to treatment and were committed to prison by the court. A retraining programme for paedophiles was introduced based on an acceptance of one’s homosexuality and encouragement of participation in the homosexual community. This approach was adopted because it was found that many of the paedophiles had limited their friendship to juveniles partly because they lacked the social skills needed to establish contact with adult homosexuals. [*39]
Similar programmes have operated in British and European institutions with considerable success. Under some Californian and British programmes homosexual volunteers are called in to act as models and instructors in an assertive training programme that includes role playing and social skill training in settings where the paedophile can learn to relate with other adult homosexuals. Evaluations of these approaches indicate that the paedophile’s self-confidence and his willingness to discuss his problems frankly and I openly improves dramatically. [*40]
I do not suggest that these training programmes are ideal ways of dealing with paedophiles. After all there is a certain amount of coercion involved in each of the programmes and coercive models do not generally lead to long-term changes of behaviour. And all of the social skill training programmes and assertiveness techniques that are used beg the question of whether paedophiles should be treated in the first place. Paedophiles themselves argue that child-adult relation-ships should not be an offence in themselves and that the law should intervene only when coercion is used as in equivalent homosexual or heterosexual crimes. But there can be no doubt that the adoption of welfare approaches based on voluntary participation by paedophiles themselves is a vastly better alternative to the past coercive ‘therapeutic’ measures of castration, drug therapy, or even aversion therapy.
In a sense, though, considerations of the alternatives in treating paedophiles are really premature, given a more important prior question. And that question is whether society should intervene in relationships between men and boys. If we do not attempt to come to terms with this question, then we have neglected some of the lessons that the Clarence Osborne case has taught us and failed in the process to learn anything about the sexuality and needs of adolescent boys. It is to this issue that we now turn.