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Statement # 7

The Right to Intimacy ... Also for Children?

In Short

Children are in need of intimacy in order to grow in a balanced way - also intimacy with adults, intergenerational intimacy.
Regrettably, nowadays almost nobody dares to offer intimacy, it has become suspect.
Particularly in education and child care, the new rule is better to keep a distance than to be viewed as a pedophile. Children and adults meet each other merely in a functional role, quite seldom as a person. The children miss intimacy.

This is a pity for the children - and bad for society. 
In 1975, neuro-psychologist Prescott proved that a culture that denies its children intimacy becomes an aggressive culture. 
The knotty issues are eroticism and sexuality. Cuddling may be still OK, as long as it is pure, that is: lacking all sense of pleasure, delight, eroticism or sexuality. Whoever cuddles a child and expresses pleasure will be suspect. 


Children like to be cuddled. What do they feel? The general assumption is that they feel innocent pleasure, that is: without any erotic or sexual aspect. The caregiver is expected to feel the same. 

We are grown up with the assumption that sexual intimacy in childhood is harmful - if not dirty. Children's' sexuality is denied and declared a taboo, so it remains a knotty issue. Whoever is confronted with it, becomes confused, might close the eyes for it and might forget what happeded.

The first who are confronted with their own feelings and the desires and acts of the little kids are the mothers. Pediatrician Friedrich asked the mothers to observe their children and to tell him what they did concerning their body, intimacy, eroticism and sexuality. He concluded that sexually colored behavior is quite normal for children and not inevitably a sign of sexual abuse or other problems.  

We might remark that Friedrich, as well as the mothers, quite easily labeled behavior as "sexual". It is still a question if the children themselves the same behavior also felt as sexual. What Friedrich studies, was behavior, not feelings or interpretation. It were the adults who interpreted the behavior. 

The same holds true for a caregiver who nourishes or cuddles a child. Adults are quick to blame her or him of being sexually colored active, whilst the caregiver her- or himself has a quite other interpretation. That is why educational specialist PhD Gieles wrote in his lecture A Carefully Reconnoitering of the Limits Between Wanted and Unwanted Intimacy: "Do not sexualize what is not felt or meant as such."

The same problem is discussed at a Dutch online group "Parents Online". The problem discussed was that a parent might feel pleasure or lust while caring their children.

In the meantime, children go their own way. Puberty starts earlier than before, but also before puberty sexual desires and experiences may exist. After puberty, the child's develops even more quickly. The average age of the first explicit sexual experiences is in our culture mid-17, with a variance from 13 year or younger. 

Children are courting quite young. Remarkably enough, people expect that they do so. The first question of the host of a kids TV show is: "Have you already a girl (or boy) friend?" Simultaneously, sexual expression of those friendships are strictly taboo. 

Nevertheless, sexual experiences are not wrong, concludes psychologist Jany Rademakers. The Beligan child psychiatrist Marneffe concluded the same: Its is the taboo and the command to say no, what is not good for children.

Neuro-psychologist James Prescott concluded the same for a society as a whole: the more a culture permits its children intimacy, the less aggression that culture will show. Regrettably, in Western culture we see the opposite: lesser and lesser intimacy - because of fear of sexuality, fear of love - thus more aggression. So, the question if children have, additionally to the right of protection against abuse, also the right to intimacy, is really an actual political debate.

In this debate, fear of intergenerational intimacy dominates. Society labels such intimacy as pedophilia and labels pedophilia as the ultimate evil. The pedophile is the ultimate devil, the modern demon. 

The Bible tells the story of the man who exiled one demon from his house - but seven other and worse demons returned to it. If society exiles intergenerational intimacy as a demon, al least four worse demons will dominate society:



lack of intimacy, and ultimately

an increase of aggression of the whole society.

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