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May 22, 1999
Column #925

IS CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE HARMLESS?

     WASHINGTON -- Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the popular Jewish radio talk show host, participated in a press conference last week hosted by the Family Research Council to denounce a study published by the American Psychological Association that suggests if a child is ''willing'' to have sex with an adult, it may not be harmful, and can even be a positive experience.

     Further, the article asserts that when there is a ''willing'' sexual encounter between an adult and child, there should be no talk of victims, or child abuse, but we should use the value-neutral term, ''adult-child sex.''

     Dr. Laura charged, ''This study is the first step on the road toward normalizing pedophilia.''  That could have profound legal consequences. Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, made a prediction: ''When a man gets arrested for sex with a child, you can bet he will have an attorney who will cite this report, saying `He did no harm to the child.''

     Nicolosi said the article in the prestigious ''Psychological Bulletin'' alleges that ''childhood sexual abuse is on average only slightly associated with psychological harm, and that harm may not be due to the psychological experience, but to the negative family factors in the children's backgrounds. When the sexual contact is not coerced, especially when it is experienced by a boy and is enjoyed, it may not be harmful at all.''

     Rhea Farberman, spokeswoman for the American Psychological Association, told me, ''The APA position is that child sexual abuse is seriously harmful, especially to females and should never be considered acceptable behavior. All abuse is wrong.  All is exploitative of the child.''

     If that is APA's position, why would it publish a study arguing the opposite?  ''We publish studies not because we agree or disagree, if it can pass our peer review process,'' she replied. 

     Sorry, but that's irresponsible.  The health and security of tens of thousands of lives are at stake.  If a green light is given to pedophiles, there will be more child molestation.  And there will be fewer convictions in court.

     The American Psychiatric Association has already taken a dangerous step down this road. Dr. Nicolosi reports that in its latest diagnostic manual (DSM-IV), ''a person no longer has a psychological disorder simply because he molests children.  To be diagnosed as disordered now he must also feel anxious about the molestation, or be impaired in his work or social relationships. Thus the APA. has left room for the `psychologically normal' pedophile.''

     This is very alarming to men such as Anthony Falzarano, a man who was a victim of six major molesters from age 9 through 17. One was a school teacher at a Key Club convention. He says, ''I was very naive. I was consenting.  But I was a child, and did not know any better.'' The result is that he began to think of himself as being homosexual.  And indeed, he later became a male prostitute who had hundreds of partners.

     However, when the AIDS issue surfaced, Falzarano realized that he had been risking his life, and withdrew from the gay life scene.  He later married, fathered children and founded Transformation, a prominent ex-gay ministry in Washington.  He adds, ''I have ministered to 500-600 homosexuals in our ex-gay ministry, 75 percent of whom have been molested, raped or sexualized before the age of 18.   That is too high a statistic to ignore.''

     Therefore, the last step of the sexual revolution, normalizing pedophilia, must be fought.

     Interestingly, Falzarano organized 25 ex-gays and their parents to picket the American Psychiatric Association's meeting in Washington this week for another reason, its newly-stated opposition to ''reparative therapy' designed to change a person's sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. ''There is no scientific evidence that reparative or conversion therapy is effective in changing a person's sexual orientation.  There is, however, evidence that this type of therapy can be destructive,'' argued Dr. Rodrigo Munoz, APA President.

     ''We are concerned about this latest move to vilify therapists who help homosexuals heal,'' said Falzarano.

     Dr. Nicolosi has been trying to get three different studies published by the APA proving the viability of reparative therapy without luck.  One asked 882 people who had received therapy whether it helped them.  Some 17.6 percent said they are now exclusively heterosexual; 16.7 percent are ''almost entirely heterosexual and another 11 percent more heterosexual than homosexual.''  Another survey of 280 licensed therapists reported similar results: one third were cured and another third made progress.

     If either APA is intellectually honest, it would publish evidence contradicting its bias.

Copyright 1999 Michael J. McManus.

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