Friday, April 10, 2015

Why pedophiles (and others) should not have sex with kids

Being in favor of adult-child sexual activity sounds awful to most people. Some might think it outrageous to even have a post addressing this question. They would think it is beyond debate, and if I'm willing to take the question seriously then I'm a friend of child abusers.

I don't ultimately want to shy away from any question just because it makes my readers uncomfortable. If adult-child sex is wrong, there ought to be reasons one can provide, not just revulsion.

Some pedophiles think adult-child sex is fine today -- just make sure you don't get caught. Very few defend the idea in public forums that I am aware of. One reason may be fear of legal harassment -- they can be taken as inciting illegal behavior of a kind society takes very seriously.

All other pedophiles are united in opposing adult-child sex today -- or that's what they say.

There is a major division among them in terms of the future society they would like to create. The pro-contact pedophiles feel that adult-child sexual contact is fundamentally OK. The anti-contact feel it is fundamentally not OK. In upcoming posts I will argue against the pro-contact position -- that adult-child sex is wrong and that there is no desirable transformation of societal laws and attitudes would make it OK. I hope it will be persuasive. But I have a more immediate concern: making sure people do not abuse kids -- right now, today, in our society. Even if you hold pro-contact views.

One argument for abstaining is selfish and simple: You want to avoid the harsh criminal penalties. That might not be enough for some people who are willing to take a risk.

But most pedophiles see themselves as caring about children (they restrict their attention to cases where they perceive the child is truly willing) and would abstain if they felt it would risk serious harm to children.

I start with a simple question: Will the sexual activity remain secret?

If it becomes known to others, a child in the US and many other countries can expect rough treatment from social services and the legal system. The system will try hard during a highly unpleasant process to reinforce in kids the idea that they have been abused and wronged, even if that was not their initial experience. If they didn't think it was a big deal, the system will convince them that it was a big deal. The system will also get them to cooperate in sending to prison a man who they typically care about. Most ordinary people of course feel this legal treatment is basically correct, but we are looking here at what pro-contact pedophiles think -- and this should be sufficient reason for them to abstain. This source of harm is recognized in some pro-contact communities as "iatrogenic" -- a term that originally meant harm caused by doctors, but broadened here to harm caused to the child by society's reaction to the sexual activity.

The other case is that it never becomes known. Many recognize that it is a burden for children to keep a secret -- a secret they must keep well into adulthood to avoid those unpleasant consequences. If they enjoyed the sexual experience, they might want to share with their friends. If they feel regret or turmoil later, they might want to get help from a professional therapist, discussing the issue while keeping their privacy. But mandated reporting laws mean that a child who reveals sexual activity with an adult has no control about keeping a secret -- the therapist must report. Family and friends might also alert authorities on their own initiative, and in some US states ALL people are mandated reporters. A child who understands these consequences is then stuck with a secret -- a secret about a subject that they are likely to have strong feelings about.

Those are reasons to abstain today even if you believe that with more relaxed attitudes, adult-child sex would be OK. They are sufficient reasons, even if there are other reasons.

Much sexual abuse is carried out by men who are not pedophiles -- they find adults more attractive, but the children are available and somewhat attractive. These arguments apply with full force to them too.

Not just the public, not just anti-contact pedophiles, but even the bulk of pro-contact pedophiles are united in opposing sexual contact with children today. Don't do it.


  1. Well said Ethan.

    I am a reformed pro-contact. I used to sympathize, but now I do not.

    I can relate to a child who was abused. I am autistic, and my autism makes it impossible to keep a secret. I probably would not be a good target as a kid, because I would have told.

    On the mandatory reporting thing. I am a victim of physical abuse. Though CPS closed the case, I am glad they responded. That way, I would have had someone in my corner. It is not the reporting laws that are bad, but the lack of resources CPS has to work with. I would have rather they responded and closed the case, than not being believed. Unfortunately, the way society is set up, it is easy to disbelieve a child.

    In Iceland, CPS is not very punitive. Neither is the justice system. They have the same rate of sexual abuse as the United States. CPS educates parents, not punishes them there. We need that here, not abolishing mandatory reporting laws.

    1. Thanks for the thoughts. Keep in mind that even without *mandated* reporting, the relevant party could have *chosen* to report the situation.

    2. Here is the problem with your argument, Ethan. Most people I know, if they had the choice, would not report, because society wants to protect abusive parents. Look at all the people hating children's services, because they somehow interfere with parent's rights. As if parents have the right to abuse their children.

      I see what you are saying. And I would agree if society would be more respectful of children, and believe them.

      If a child is raped in a park, the passerby is likely to intervene. If there is a surly teenager getting the belt in public, people are likely to either ignore or (more disgustingly) applaud the abuse, saying things like "that's what we got in our day, good for [x mother/father]".

      The day that society starts believing children, instead of calling children disrespectful for demanding their rights, then we can talk about repealing the dreaded reporting laws. I don't like them at times either, but it is the law, and for good reason. And I don't know one country that is at that point yet. Not even Iceland or Sweden.