Ethical Treatment for All Youth (Website)

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Ethical Treatment for All Youth
"They told me I was disgusting. Morally unfit to live. They said, 'Drop your pants' and I did. They said 'hook yourself up to the instrument' and I did. And there I sat, alone in a dark room, sitting on a cold chair covered with butcher paper with a sensor on me recording how 'deviant' I really was...
I had to go to weekly therapy...I found this therapy to be the most awful experience of my life...I had to take polygraphs and do weekly 'covert desensitization' tapes, describing in detail sexually 'deviant' thoughts or fantasies I had had in the past and why it was bad to have these. I truly felt like someone was chewing on my heart when I did those...
But it didn't hurt. It was years of slow agony. There wasn't a sharp pain. It spiraled downwards, layers of guilt and shame and fear until I hated who people said I was...
I was 16 and I cried, hours upon hours of tears, weeks on weeks of feeling nothing, months on months of pain, years on years of longing. People have told me to 'get over it' and I keep thinking I had. But it's all back and goddammit I don't want it anymore."

This is not the story of a young man labeled as "deviant" by unknowledgeable therapists 50 years ago. It happened in 1997. And this young man is far from alone in the treatment he received.

This site documents how children and teenagers are severely stigmatized by a label that allows adults to do things to them that would be considered abusive and unethical in any other context. This occurs with little knowledge by the general public. Parents of the youth involved are too embarrassed or fearful to discuss it with others. The purpose of this site is to inform the public of what is happening, and to advocate for a much more humane and ethical approach.

This site deals with taboo topics you may find distasteful or troubling, related to human sexuality and childhood. You may not want to read it, or feel that you can't talk to others about it. However, silence and lack of awareness are perpetuating a great injustice on some of our youth who can't speak up about what they're facing. So I ask that you at least read and consider carefully the information you find here, and think about what you may be able to do to help.

An important word about right and wrong

I am a Christian, and that influences my beliefs about sexual behavior. However, my goal is not to convince anyone to have certain beliefs about sexual morality. Instead, I want to unite people to work against actions which risk severe harm to children and teenagers. We can all agree that such actions are wrong.

To understand how this harm can happen, we need to think about why we believe certain sexual behavior is unacceptable. Our beliefs about what is acceptable may be based on:

  • our faith and/or moral beliefs

  • harmfulness to others

  • social appropriateness

These reasons are not all the same, and it is crucial that we remember that. Simply because something is socially inappropriate or even immoral, does not necessarily mean it is harmful. For example, loudly making crude jokes in the middle of a formal occasion is socially inappropriate and even offensive, but it is not necessarily harmful or violent.

In the case of sexuality, we seem to forget this simple idea. Many of us who believe that a certain sexual behavior is wrong, assume it must be psychologically harmful or even violent. The problem is that this confusion often leads to extreme injustice.

This can be seen in the abusive treatment homosexuals once received. In the 1950s, moral opposition to homosexual behavior resulted in the assumption that homosexuals were sick and their behavior was severely harmful. Some even assumed they were violent. This assumption led to widespread fears and the belief that they were less than human. Society felt justified in doing whatever was necessary to eliminate homosexuality, even to the point of disregarding universal ethical principles: homosexuals were routinely imprisoned and subjected to aversion therapy with electric shock or nausea-inducing drugs.

An important word about ignorance and expertise

Ignorance was another factor in society's abusive treatment of homosexuals. Let us remember that at the time, society didn't realize its ignorance. It relied on the experts, who claimed that extreme measures were necessary to cure them.

This can also been seen in the treatment of the mentally ill. In the 1930s, out of both fear and ignorance, experts used a barbaric procedure called the "trans-orbital lobotomy" in an attempt to cure mental illness. This procedure involved inflicting two quick shocks to the patient's head to render him or her unconscious, inserting a pencil-like device underneath the upper eyelid, tapping the device with a hammer into the patients’ brain, and swiping the device back and forth within the patient’s head. (For more information, see The History of Mental Illness at the Athens Mental Health Center, Ohio University.)

The lesson to learned here is crucial:

Today, I fear that necessary skepticism is in short supply, and this time the victims are children and teenagers.

Ethical Treatment for All Youth

Table of Contents

The information at this site is most understandable if it is read in the order given below.
  • Youth sexuality - Basic familiarity with what is currently known (and not known) on this topic is crucial to understanding the rest of this site. In fact, a lack of awareness of this information is a major cause of the suffering described on this site. I urge you to start here.
  • Reactions of therapists - How many well-meaning therapists react to children's sexual behavior in a way that risks severe harm to them.
  • Reactions of police - How the law enforcement system often charges children and teenagers with crimes for non-violent, mutually desired sexual behavior.
  • What is done to them - The therapy which many of these youth are coerced into receiving. Most people would find it extremely disturbing.
  • The effects of therapy - The potential harmful effects of this type of therapy.
  • Ethical violations - How this therapy violates basic ethical and therapeutic principles.
  • How can this happen? - I try to identify the conditions and attitudes that allow harmful, experimental therapies to be used on people without public outcry.
  • What you can do - There are many things we can do to stop the unethical treatment of youth. I make some suggestions here, and hope you can help me.
  • People and organizations - A list of groups contacted about this issue, along with their responses.
  • About me - In case you're wondering who I am and how I got involved in this issue.

Let us be skeptical of what the experts say when

  1. they are sure of themselves in spite of a shortage of facts, and

  2. they claim that frightful dangers justify the use of extreme, ethically problematic measures.