I. A Center for Paedophiles?
II. The Meaning of Paedophilia
Dr. Frits Bernard
From Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia, volume
1 number 2 (Autumn 1987), p. 46-48. Copyright © 1987, Frits Bernard. Reprinted
by special permission of Frits Bernard and Paidika.
Paidika editor's note:
This is the first English translation of a pamphlet by Dr. Frits Bernard,
writing under the pseudonym of "Victor Servatius" that was published
in 1962 by Enclave, Rotterdam. The Dutch title was Over pedofilie - Een
centrum voor pedofielen - Zin der pedofilie. The sections had already
appeared in February and April of that year in Vriendschap, the
official publication of the COC, the Dutch sexual rights organization. It was,
as Dr. Bernard describes it, "a deliberate attempt to rally support in
the COC for the formation of local workgroups, and a national one as
well." It was also Enclave's attempt to summarize in short form their
thinking on paedophilia and make this view known to a wider public.
I. A Center for Paedophiles?
In every society, including that of the Netherlands, there are paedophiles,
that is, persons whose love and interest is exclusively directed toward girls
and/or boys who have not yet reached the age of puberty, and for whom such
children are of the utmost importance. They are not large in number--there are
no statistics at present--but this group is nevertheless not insignificant.
Strictly speaking, we should not consider paedophiles as a group, but rather as
separate elements forming a collective. This minority is composed of individuals
who are not really connected with each other, in contrast to other minorities
which do form a kind of unit, such as, for example, the Jews. Nevertheless,
individual paedophiles have one thing in common with each other, and that is
their affective life--or, better, many facets of it. In our society they live
under pressure and they are certainly a persecuted minority. However people
might regard them, the above factors make up their reality.
For the most part, people know very little about their psychology--and this
also holds true for professionals who are considered officially as experts in
the field. The greatest difficulty resides in the fact that paedophiles do not
easily reveal their sexual preference because, with good reason, they are afraid
to do so.
Until now nobody has concerned themselves the reality of the
paedophile's world, despite the enormous increase and expansion in all
directions which has taken place in our country since 1945 in social welfare and
social work. Naturally, experts have from time to time given their individual
opinions, but these were isolated cases--and, in general, this happened on the
whole only where the pressure from circumstances gave them no other choice.
The average citizen is acquainted with only the most negative aspects of
paedophilia, based on what so often appears in the press, and on radio and
television. As a consequence he has a totally distorted picture of paedophilia.
Just imagine forbidding love between man and woman because occasionally a crime
of passion is committed! That is precisely what people, consciously or
unconsciously, do with respect to paedophilia.
The Consequences for the Child
In recent years there has been some research into the psychological
consequences for the child of having sexual contact with an adult. The
conclusion is that the overwhelming majority of seduced minors later develop
normal heterosexual preferences, marry and raise children. Psychoanalysis also
demonstrates this. Discovery of sexual contacts and the consequences of
discovery, however, can be traumatizing.
A Few Phenomenological Aspects
Recent investigations have shown that paedophiles as a group are not less
intelligent or ethical than heterosexuals. Their intelligence quotients can be
higher or lower, just as is true of their achieved social status.
With respect to their affective preferences, paedophiles can be divided into
the following groups:
a) the heterosexual paedophile
b) the homosexual paedophile, and
c) the bisexual paedophile.
There are no statistics to show with any certainty the relative percentages
of these groups.
With the bisexual paedophiles, a certain alternation can be observed: after a
heterosexual phase a homosexual one follows, and vice versa.1
What is the Solution?
Whatever standpoint one adopts, there is agreement that today we can not
afford to ignore this phenomenon. Whether one considers paedophilia the result
of a disturbed development or as a normal variant, one thing is clear: as things
stand now, one can only consider the situation most unsatisfactory, both for
society and the paedophiles themselves.
What is the solution? At the moment it is certainly not in sight, but it is
very possible to try every avenue to improve the situation.
Experience has shown that no solutions are being offered by the spiritual,
social or governmental resources in the Netherlands. Only in the most extreme
circumstances (especially when it is too late) will the paedophile make his way
to such institutions, and when he does nobody knows what advice to give him.
This is the reality.
This lack, or gap, in our society must be filled by one means or another. We
are thinking here of some kind of center for paedophiles. In the first
place, it should have at its disposal a number of advisers and experts (for
example, a psychologist, a lawyer, a social worker, etc.). Primarily it would
exist to help the paedophile adjust as best he can, and achieve a feeling of
self-acceptance. In addition, providing information about the phenomenon to
larger groups of people (such as teachers, youth leaders, parents) should be a
very important task. Obviously, too, scientific research should also be part of
We are fully aware of all the difficulties which would face the
implementation of such a project, but we are convinced that something must be
done, and that this would only be a first step along a very, very long path.
What has been written above is in large part applicable to the larger group
of ephebophiles, i.e. adult homosexuals who love puberal boys, but a great deal
has already been written about them so we will leave them outside this
Finally, we place before our readers the question of whether moving in the
above-described direction is the task of the C.O.C. This organization is for the
most part now a society of androphiles. What, readers, do you think?
1. See also Dr. Victor Servatius, "Phenomenologische
beschouwingen over bisexualiteit" (Phenomenonalistic Considerations in
Bisexuality), Vriendschap, January, 1961.
II. The Meaning of Paedophilia
There is perhaps no phenomenon about which so many untruths have been written
as paedophilia. This is the case in medical and psychological literature, as
well as in belles lettres. Most people approach it with fear, fear of
psychic contamination, distorted development or even worse. Of course there are
dangers, great dangers; if a paedophile preference is labeled as something
horrible, then an artificially nourished danger is created. For example, when a
paedophile relationship comes to light and the police become involved, along
with the local neighborhood and the probation department, those charged are put
under extra psychic pressure and tension and, perhaps, develop feelings of
guilt. These circumstances can certainly create a neurotic atmosphere and can
distort development. The most important factor in this situation is the way
paedophilia is considered and not paedophilia itself. It is, in and of itself,
an interesting psychological phenomenon to note that in psychiatric textbooks
all of the negative aspects of the situation are always laid to the paedophile
preference itself. In this case psychiatry reflects the common morality, and
this is why, when such literature is critically read, the reasoning within it
seems so unsatisfying and unconvincing. Moralistic science easily leads to
contradictory results. Through it one will never succeed in penetrating the
heart of the matter. The premises it starts from are of a dubious nature. People
are led to believe that the negative aspects of paedophilia lie in the
paedophile nature itself, not in the attitudes of society towards paedophilia.
What, really, do people understand by paedophilia? Nowhere is terminology as
vague as here. What, for example, are the age boundaries? Penal codes play an
important role by setting ages under which contacts can be punished. In a
country where the age of consent is 18 years of age, an adult can be labeled a
paedophile if he has relations with persons under 18; where the age of consent
is 12, the limits of what is considered paedophile relations will be lower. Some
people would even like to place the age limit at 21. It need not be said how
flexible these boundaries are. Research is needed here. Relations between an
adult and someone of 18 years of age are very different from relations with
someone of 11 or 12! The biological maturation process alone makes this clear.
In our opinion, the best criterion is the onset of puberty, which usually occurs
around the 12th year. On a biological basis, then, one can maintain that
paedophile relations are only those between an adult and a child under the age
of 12. Relations with youths of around 13 to 15 (puberty) should better be
called ephebophile relations, or, as we have proposed, puberfile
relations. There is a great deal of difference between the two--in any case, an
evident biological difference.
In this discussion, however, we will not use this biological criterion but
will accept what people think of as paedophilia. We keep the age limits, then,
as flexible as possible and place the emphasis here more on puberty.
We know nowadays that there are young people who can only fully develop by
having a relationship with an adult. If this phase is not experienced
(repressed) it can cause difficulties (neuroses) later. The general morality of
our society rejects every sexual relationship of this kind. It must be realized
that this rejection makes such relationships extra difficult through fear of
discovery, rejection, etc. It follows that these relationships cannot be wholly
harmonious under the given circumstances. Modern psychiatry conforms in order to
lessen the neurotic impact of the current taboos and attributes all difficulties
to the sexual relations themselves. But how often do tensions and difficulties
spring up just when a "case" is made of an affair? A closer
examination once again reveals that it is mostly the attitude of society which
does the damage.
The value of the paedophile relationship is two-fold. In the first place it
is an individual one: that is, the relationship is important for the personal
development of some individuals. Secondly, it is a collective, or social one:
the paedophile is, so to speak, a bridge with youth. It is primarily he, through
his very nature, who can and does have a true importance in everything which
concerns youth. He is therefore in a position to do a great deal for the
population of growing young people. It should be noted that society, by changing
its attitudes, would be able to profit greatly by their paedophile fellow-men.
Society is not, however, aware of this as yet, or perhaps is only becoming aware
To stimulate this awareness was the aim of this discussion about the meaning