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On Paedophilia:
   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 the program.

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 discussion.

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 of it.

To stimulate this awareness was the aim of this discussion about the meaning of paedophilia.


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