Is The Guardian trolling us?

// 3 January 2013

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The_Guardian_Building_Window_in_London.JPGThis post may contain information which is triggering, about child sexual abuse, and although we have decided to primarily use content notes, I thought that the details within this post merited extra care.

The majority of paedophiles, however socially inappropriate, seem to be gentle and rational“, are not words I expected to read in today’s Guardian online.

Nor that J Michael Bailey of Northwestern University, Chicago “was forced to recognise that “persuasive evidence for the harmfulness of paedophilic relationships does not yet exist”“, or that Sarah Goode, a senior lecturer at the University of Winchester would say, “There are a lot of people,” she says, “who say: we outlawed homosexuality, and we were wrong. Perhaps we’re wrong about paedophilia.”

And while the article explains that views like these are not mainstream, it gives them enough of a voice to suggest that they are worth considering. It also equates violence with psychotic illness, in paragraph five, which is a needless and damaging assumption.

The actual effects of child sexual abuse on the victim include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, dissociation, inability to form relationships, physical and neurological damage, self-harm and self-destructive behaviours, flashbacks, panic attacks and nightmares. And that’s just a fraction of the long-term impact of this exploitation.

I think the worst aspect, however, of the publication of this article is the fact that people who are already sexually abusing children, or those who are tempted to do so, will use it to justify their assaults. They will list – perhaps only in their own minds – the academics and specialists saying that it’s normal, it’s no different to being gay, and it doesn’t do any harm. If they needed to destigmatise it for themselves in order to be able to carry out their abuse, this article takes them to a place where they can do just that. After all, they are “gentle and rational” people, right? And nothing says “gentle” like raping a child.

[The image is a photograph of a window with the words The Guardian and The Observer in white. In front of the window is a black fence with a bicycle chained to it. It was taken by Bryantbob and is used under a Creative Commons Licence]

Comments From You

Laura // Posted 4 January 2013 at 9:04 am

The comments are really disturbing as well. So many focusing on at what age it’s OK to have sex with a child/a child can give informed consent or “enjoy”/want sex. The point should be that no adult needs to have sex with a child, and doing so – regardless of whether certain 15-year-olds may believe they are old enough to make their own decision to have sex with an adult – is to risk abusing someone, because children are extra vulnerable to exploitation and coercion and are immature both in terms of sexual and life experiences.

Any adult who thinks it’s acceptable to have sex with a child (as some of the commenters appear to believe) is essentially saying it’s acceptable to risk abusing someone for your own sexual gratification. If you want to have sex, there’s plenty of adults out there. Leave children alone.

Philippa Willitts // Posted 4 January 2013 at 3:55 pm

Thanks Laura – I agree, the comments under the original post were really worrying. I thought about including some in the post but it felt like it needed a whole post to itself!

If you want to have sex, there’s plenty of adults out there. Leave children alone.

Yes!! Also, this seems like a good place to mention that Tom Watson MP has written a good response to the OP, with a slightly different focus to the above.

Claire Parfrement // Posted 4 January 2013 at 11:40 pm

I’m not sure I agree with the slant newspapers seems to have given this viewpoint. However, if exploring a different attitude to paedophilia means that we can assist people that have these urges to not act on them, then that’s a positive step in my book.

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