In 1998, we published a meta-analytic review (Rind, Tromovitch, & Bauserman, 1998) of 59 college studies that questioned victimological assumptions regarding the mental health consequerices of child sexual abuse (CSA). Dallam, Gleaves, Spiegel, and Kraemer (1999) and Ondersma, Chaffin, and Berliner (1999) responded by questioning the integrity of our study. In the current article, we respond to updated versions of these critiques (Dallam et al., 200 1; Ondersma et al., 2001), which stem from the victimological viewpoint.
Sexual victimology, one of several types of victimology to emerge in the wake of the various protest movements in the 1960s and early 1970s, all of which had victimization as a central theme, is a blend of social science, criminology, and victimization-based feminism that advocates social and legal reform (Best, 1997; Schultz, 1980; Sommers, 1995). As with other forms of victimology, sexual victimology holds as a basic tenet that victimization, which is defined in increasingly broad terms, typically produces lasting psychological damage; this view invited the medicalization of victimization, which prompted expansion of therapeutic services that embraced victimological assumptions as a basis for treatment (Best, 1997; Dineen, 1998; Sarnoff, 2001). For victimological therapists, CSA has become an essential component of their view of the cause of psychological maladjustment.
To avoid misunderstanding, we note that there is no doubt that some persons are harmed, and severely so, by CSA. In fact, we stated as much in our earlier article (Rind et al., 1998). Thus, the issue is not whether CSA can be harmful, but how often, to what degree, and under what circumstances, which contrasts with the more sweeping assumptions of sexual victimology just discussed. Additionally, we repeat from our earlier article that questioning psychological harmfulness should not be confused with questioning wrongfulness. The two issues are separate; determining that various types of CSA are not related to harm, for example, does not imply that they are not wrongful.
The critique by Dallam et al. (2001) focuses mainly on methodological and statistical issues. We consider all their major criticisms, including issues in
and argue for the validity and accuracy of our methods and analyses.
The critique by Ondersma et al. (2001) is concerned with the "moral standard" (p. 711 ), dangers that our article allegedly poses, and a perceived backlash against psychotherapy. They claimed that we misused science by suggesting that researchers use morally neutral terminology for some CSA experiences, which they regard as being "extra-scientific" and "an attempt to erode current societal views regarding CSA " (Ondersma et al., 2001, p. 710).
We show that our recommendations regarding terminology were scientific, not extra-scientific, as they were based on the attempt to improve construct validity. They warned that our research will be co-opted by groups that intend "to support predetermined advocacy positions" (Ondersma et al., 2001, p. 713). We argue that warnings about possible negative consequences of research are scientifically inappropriate, as they represent an instance of the argument from adverse consequences fallacy
(Lilienfeld, in press; Sagan, 1995). They classified our study as part of the backlash that continues to have an impact on their profession, and expressed concern that our study has or may hurt perceptions of the American Psychological Association (APA), which will impact on public trust and in turn negatively affect their ability to "service victims of child maltreatment" (Ondersma et al., 2001, p. 708).
We dispute the backlash classification as inappropriate advocacy rhetoric, based as it is on dubious historical perspective. We add that, contrary to their concern regarding public trust and its effects on therapy, the only legitimate avenue to public trust and sound psychotherapeutic practice is integrity in science (Dineen, 1998; Samoff, 2001).
In the spring of 1999, our study came under intense attack by social conservatives, culminating in congressional condemnation. Ondersma et al. (2001) incorrectly described the origins of the attacks. In fact, they began in December 1998, when the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, a psychoanalytically oriented organization of therapists dedicated to the cure and prevention of homosexuality, critiqued our study, arguing that it would normalize pedophilia as had previously happened with homosexuality. Their comments were then repeated in a religious newsletter in March 1999, which a Philadelphia radio host used as a basis for his own attacks. A listener contacted "Dr. Laura" Schlessinger, who initiated a public furor over it (see Rind. Tromovitch, & Bauserman, 2000a, for a complete description).
Dr. Laura characterized our study as "garbage research with a dangerous statement at the end" and criticized our use of meta-analysis, stating. "I frankly have never seen this in general science. ... This [pooling of studies] is so outrageous" ( Schlessinger, 1999). She soon added to her methodological criticisms those provided to her by the Leadership Council for Mental Health, Justice and the Media, an organization of professionals advocating the validity of repressed memories and related therapies. The Leadership Council's critique was authored by Dallam et al. (1999) and was eventually provided to certain members of Congress, who used it as a basis for condemning our study. In their current critique, Dallam et al. (2001) omitted this information, though it is central to the political attacks. Also important is that elsewhere we thoroughly rebutted the 1999 Dallam et al. critique (Rind, Tromovitch, & Bauserman, 2000a). Thus, the current debate between us is important, as it reflects further on the validity of their earlier critique and the political attacks it supported.
Ondersma et al. (2001) mentioned the American Association for the Advancement of Science independent review of our study but did not sufficiently summarize their reply. The most relevant part in terms of evaluating our study versus the criticisms of it is the following:
The validity of a research study is of course not decided by who praises or condemns it but rather by the methodological quality of the study and the empirical basis for its conclusions. As a consequence, we devote most of our response to addressing methodological criticisms. The reader may feel that these next several sections seem tedious at times, focusing on minute details. However, we feel it is both necessary and important to demonstrate exactly how and why so many of our critics' claims are either factually in error, debatable, or trivial and do not affect our basic conclusions even if accurate.