Start What is new? Table of Contents

Statement # 11

Intimacy: danger or opportunity to grow?

We’ve repeatedly pointed at the importance of intimacy, including intimacy between the young and adult people. The less intimacy, the greater the chance of violence later in life. So we need to have room for intimacy. However, there is a problem.

Nowadays, such intimacy is soon identified with what is called incest or pedophilia. These concepts are directly linked to sexual intimacy, which in turn is usually known as sexual abuse and evokes the notion of permanent damage.

This is a subject for research. We will limit ourselves here to voluntary intimate contact outside the family. We will return to the discussion about incest later on.

Studies indicate that we can only speak of permanent damage in very rare cases.

Resistance to such voluntary contacts can be explained from formalistic and sloppy thinking.

Some authors stress the harmlessness of voluntary contacts, whereas other authors explored the boundaries that should be respected in such contacts.

The article

Intimacy has become suspect 
Meta-analysis: an investigation of investigations 
Voluntary contacts outside the child’s family 
Where does the resistance come from? 
Looking for ethics: criteria and boundaries 
[with a PS dated 2004]
Science and morality 


In statement 5 we pleaded for the conservation of warmth and intimacy in childhood. In statement 6 we stated that this certainly is valid for boys as well. In statement 7 we talked about the right to intimacy, also for children. In statement 8 [not translated] we saw that violent behavior among adolescents can be related to a lack of adequate and sufficient intimacy during childhood. In statement 9 [not translated] we read about individualization gone too far and about a lack of social infrastructure, of contacts among neighbors and in the neighborhood at large. In statement 10 we revealed that English-speaking countries don’t know what to do with their youth, with sex and even less with the combination of both.

In the meantime we discovered the research by Prescott [in the "Read More" section of Statement 7]. He shows the connection between intimacy and violent behavior: the more intimacy a society allows its youth, the more peaceful this society will be, the more intimacy it keeps from its youth, the more violence one may expect. We certainly see quite some violence around us nowadays.

Now we might say: Okay, let’s create some room for intimacy, even for intimacy between the generations, including outside the family (to which we limit ourselves here). But then we have a problem: intimacy has become suspect.

Intimacy has become suspect 

The fear of homosexuality if a man and boy have an intimate relationship with each other has been long-standing. But recently there have been new fears added to this.

Feminists were right to point at the repression of women by men and at the existence of rape within marriage. They also pointed at something else: the existence of forced father-daughter incest and its consequences. In the analysis of this phenomenon they used the same model, namely that of ‘rape of the powerless woman by the powerful man within marriage’, which was translated as ‘rape of the powerless daughter by the powerful father’. Male sexuality continued to be seen as the bad and wrong factor, man being the perpetrator; woman and daughter received the status of the victim.

Within such relations, between man and woman and between father and daughter this may be a good approach. However, the application of this model of interpretation was also extended to intimate relationships outside the family: school teacher-pupil, sport coach–pupil, groupleader –child, neighbor-child next door, and also to friendships between adults and children or teenagers. As soon as there was intimacy involved, all of these relations were now approached from the feminist model of exploitation. This implied that the adult could only be seen as a perpetrator and the younger party was exclusively seen as the victim.

Intimacy was exclusively regarded as sexual abuse. And just as automatically, this was linked to the notion of permanent damage.

Ever since families, schools, children's homes and clubs have become 'colder'. Adults don’t risk touching children anymore or it is even explicitly prohibited to do so.

We already touched upon this subject in our first statement, and the articles attached about the fear of touching and about cramped reactions in schools.

All the more reason to take a further look at intimate relations between generations: What about the real damage? How correct are the usual ideas and assumptions about this?

Meta-analysis: research of research 

Prof. Dr. Bruce Rind and his team already sought publicity for a research report in 1997. Research into Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) used to be exclusively aimed at a very one-sided population, namely the one that populates the clinics and prisons. It is to be expected that you will find a lot of cases of damages there. However, that damage-hypothesis was also applied to the population in general: there would be damage in any case whatsoever. Now, Rind c.s, investigated the population at large and (accordingly) reached very different conclusions.

In 1998 they issued another publication that reports on the analysis of investigations on student populations. This publication also reached another conclusion than what was commonly assumed to be true.

The report of 1997 has not got that much attention, but the one of 1998 has been the focus of much controversy. We will get back to this in statement 13.

So far we can orientate us on a lecture given by Rind in the Paulus Church in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, late in 1998. We have an English version of the lecture that offers a good explanation and discussion of that research, i.e. the meta-analysis.

A correction:
F.E.J. Gieles; Forget the four percent - remember the one percent - August 2017
Now and then, I have said that the research of Rind c.s. should prove that a sexual experience during childhood in only four percent should result in lasting harm, and only for girls and only for cases of incest and force. This is not correct. I discovered this in a shock after someone said that this was only one percent. In my text to correct this into 4%, I wanted to place a link to this cipher in Rind’s meta-analysis. This 4% cannot be found there! ...
The 1% can be found in Rind’s meta=analysis, but this cipher has another meaning. ... Explanation ... Snakes in the grass ... Contemplation ...

In the "Read More"-section of this statement we have included three articles that discuss the studies by Rind et al. and explain them in shorter summaries: the articles by Ferguson, and G. G. Because everything is already mentioned in these articles we may limit ourselves to this reference instead of giving a summary here. We have more to discuss.

Voluntary contacts outside the family

Rind’s team investigated all experiences and all sexual experiences, both within and outside the child’s family. However, not all experiences with intimacy are sexual in nature and there are also intimate relations outside the family.

Rind also investigated this topic himself: see statement 15 about gay teenage boys.

Where does the resistance come from?

There remains a lot of resistance against the relationships we discuss here. Where do they come from? By now, especially sexologists, psychologists etc. should know that the damage is quite limited. So why the continuing resistance? 

We already mentioned a source in statement 4: sexual intolerance for what is or seems to be 'different'.

Formal ways of thinks, defining, and validating, and 

Faulty ways of thinking and reasoning: category errors and errors of thought.

Looking for ethics: criteria and boundaries 

Three authors

We also present three authors who have looked for the ethics in this kind of relationships: 

what is possible, 

what is allowed, 

what is not allowed, 

where are the boundaries, 

what are the criteria? 

In the end the three authors formulate practically identical criteria on which such relationships could be evaluated for ethical soundness. In his "Carefully reconnoitering of the Limits Between Wanted and Unwanted Intimacy", read as a lecture in 1995 and published in 1997, orthopedagogue Frans Gieles is looking for those limits, especially concerning child care workers in his area of expertise. 

He identifies the boundary as lying somewhere within the realm of the erotic, namely where a sexual purpose is involved. Critics of this paper point out that the boundary is not very clear, which is partly the result of the various definitions of the word "erotic" (Van Ree 2001). 

In his paper "I did not know what to do with it" of 1997, Frans Gieles turns out to be the most cautious author here. He wrote this paper for the Newsletter of the NVSH National Workgroup JORis, a group that discussed the subject for years. Gieles then mentions the four criteria and the PS, as they were formulated and ultimately accepted in the group just mentioned. We will see the same criteria later on in the papers by Van Ree and Roelofs [not translated, but see here below]. That's why we mention them here:

The four criteria (Gieles)

These were developed over the years in the Platform committee of the NVSH National work group JORis and an international platform named Ipce

1. Control: 
Children must always remain in control of their own sexuality, their relationships with others and their own lives.

2. Initiative: 
Sexual initiatives must always come from the children themselves, also at a later stage of the relationship.

3. Freedom: 
At any moment, children must be able to withdraw from a relationship with an adult (dependency relationships in which sexuality plays a role limit their freedom in this respect). Love and attention must be unconditional. There must not be any manipulation in the area of sexuality.

4. Openness: 
the child must not be burdened with a secret. How a child experiences sexuality partly depends on the situation. It depends to a large extent on the quality of the relationship and on the support by (the) adult(s).

Ideas about what is morally acceptable are influential: openness about the sexual experiences of children are often not appreciated by the social environment. Children often have to experience sexuality in secret. For a lot of children and teen-agers homosexuality is still an important taboo. This may cause problems and insecurity. If the subculture in which they live is relaxed and strong enough, children may get support from that.

As a person and as the author of his paper, Frans Gieles concludes that the fourth principle of openness cannot be put into practice in present-day society. Therefore, he draws the conclusion that sexual relationships between adults and children are not acceptable in contemporary society and should be avoided.

Psychiatrist Gerard Roelofs joins in

He mentions the same four principles and the same PS in an interview in De Limburger [Dutch newspaper] of August 8th 1999, though he does not mention its original source. Roelofs goes against existing prejudices as much as is possible in a newspaper interview. He explains his criteria 

[the numbers of letters between brackets refer to the four principles and the PS mentioned above]: 

According to Roelofs, a sexual relationship with an adult does not have to be detrimental for a child from the age of 12. 

"From that age it is possible to have real reciprocity and to make certain the interest of the child comes first". 

He has formulated five conditions a 'healthy' pedophile relation has to comply with. 

There must not be any force [=1] and 

the child must always be allowed to stop [=3]. 

Thirdly, the sex must be on the 'psychosexual level' of the child. In other words; intimacies must fit in the sexuality of a twelve- to sixteen-year-old. 
"Masturbation may be conceivable, but hard S & M games are not", Roelofs explains [=1 & 2]. 

Two other conditions usually turn out to be the main obstacle for the present generation of pedophiles: 

Roelofs states that parents of the child must be informed. 

Also, the child must be able to talk about it with his or her environment without meeting disapproval [=4]. 

Thus his standpoint remains quite theoretical for the time being, and Roelofs is very aware of it. No responsible parent will allow a sexual relationship between his under-aged child and an adult. Roelofs confesses he would not even do so himself [=PS].

Psychiater Frank van Ree also joins in, 

late in 1999, though he does mention the source and gives a rather extensive discussion of the paper by Gieles. Van Ree also mentions the same principles:

1. Control: 
the child must always keep control of his or her own sexuality.

2. Initiative: 
the initiative to sexual contact must always come from the child.

3. Freedom: 
the child must be able to stop the relationship.

4. Openness: 
the child must not be burdened with a secret. 

Van Ree continues: 

It is not possible to discuss all these four criteria here. But I [Van Ree] would like to give attention to the fourth criterion, that of openness. Its necessity is obvious. However, as Gieles himself indicates:

"these relationships cannot be discussed anywhere. This is why I believe", he [Gieles] continues, "the fourth criterion cannot be put into practice (anymore) now, in this time and in this society." And he [Gieles] concludes: "This implies that I don't allow myself to have sexual contact with children or teen-agers." 

A really conscientious and respectable conclusion, based on a realistic analysis of contemporary reality. But this conclusion really amounts to respecting and maintaining an undesirable taboo!

Perhaps the four criteria may play a role in a broader societal debate about these matters.

A PS dated 2004

The discussion has gone on. From the Ipce Forum, Gieles describes in his article, subtitled as "First, do no harm", 2002, how the discussion went on. 

Recently, in 2004 two organizations have taken over the four criteria, be it in a slightly different order and wording. The Association Martijn and the group CLogo have accepted the next four guidelines:

1. Consent of both child and adult.

2. Openness towards the parents of the child.

3. Freedom for the child to withdraw from the relationship at any moment.

4. Harmony with the child's development.

Science and morality 

The foregoing paragraphs dealt with the content of the questions we want to discuss here and with what could be revealed about its content by research. However, this content has not always been gratefully received. Especially in the English-speaking world there has been a lot of resistance. 

We want to cut subjects into two and discuss them separately. This statement deals with adults, children and teenagers and about the relevant research. Next statement, [# 12 in Dutch, but] # 13 in English. Most papers about this subject are in English, and the attachments to that statement # 13 will consist of English papers: the meta-analysis and the various responses to it.

Read More about this Subject 


Start What is new? Table of Contents