American Psychological Association

May 24, 1999

A recent study published by the American Psychological Association has caused quite a stir. Everyone from Dr. James Dobson to Dr. Laura Schlessenger has criticized it. In fact, Dr. Laura came on Focus on the Family to criticize it!

The study claims that sexual relations between a child and an adult is less harmful to children than was previously believed. The study argues that harmful consequences of sexual abuse have been overstated and that a so-called "willing encounter" between child and adult should be simply labeled as "adult-child sex" a value-neutral term.

The outcry from family groups, psychotherapists, members of Congress, and talk show hosts has been deafening. Recently many groups gathered at the National Press Club to denounce the study. Meanwhile the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) has welcomed the study and would like to change existing laws dealing with adult-child sex.

I have three criticisms of the study. First, the premise is incorrect. Adult-child sex is not consensual. Pedophilia involves coercion on the part of the adult. This is abuse, not a loving relationship.

Second, the conclusions are not based on any new empirical data. Dr. Laura points out that the study is actually a meta-study that merely looks at many other studies and compiles the results. Third, Dr. Laura also points out that the study was not subjected to peer review. More and more critics are calling the study nothing more than "junk science."

There are members of Congress working on a congressional resolution to condemn the findings of the study. And, of course, there is the continuing criticism of the study on various talk shows.

Unfortunately the damage has been done. The publishing of the study gave legitimacy to adult-child sex and made pedophilia more acceptable to some people.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.