The age of consent in Brazil is fourteen years. This means that before the age of fourteen, any penetration or libidinous act is considered violent by default. The law that was supposed to protect minors from adult advances ended up posing a problem for harmless libidinous acts performed by children on other children in a context of play, as well as some acts that might be erroneously considered libidinous when engaged between adolescents or between children and adults, but without real violence and without negative consequences for the teenager or child. The purpose of this text is to evaluate the law’s text and it’s application by enforcers, in order to point the flaws of the law and how it could be made better in the future. The idea is to keep children and adolescents safe, without incurring in collateral or accidental damage.
I define “minor” as anyone who has not reached the age of consent.
I define “non-minor” as anyone who has reached the age of consent.
I define “child” as anyone who has not reached age 12.
I define “adolescent” as anyone who reached age 12, but not 18.
I define “adult” as anyone who has reached age 18.
I define “precocious sexual relationship” as any sexual relationship involving one or more minors and lewd acts, but not violence nor immediate or late harm. Such a concept is included in the Brazilian definition of rape of minor and is a crime.
I define “child sexual abuse” as any relationship involving one or more minors and lewd acts, as long as such acts are violent or harmful. Such a concept is also included in the Brazilian definition of rape of minor and is a crime.
I define “child sexuality” as the ability to feel, desire and seek pleasure of an erotic nature. Such ability is intrinsic to children and adolescents.
I define “child asexuality” as the belief that minors are, or at least should be, asexual.
I define “age of consent” as the age from which one person can engage in lewd acts with another, provided that the other person has also reached the age of consent and is a willing participant. In Brazil, such age is fourteen years.
I define “presumption of violence” as the doctrine according to which all libidinous acts between minors or between minors and an adult are, a priori, violent. Such a presumption may be absolute (not admitting proof to the contrary) or relative (may be rejected in face of proof to the contrary).
I warn that the focus of this text are relationships before the age of consent, including relationships between two minors, but also between minor and non-minor.
I warn you that the discussion presented here should not serve as an encouragement to break the laws, even those with which the reader may disagree.
- This is a mostly automated translation of an existing work in Portuguese. As a result of the automated process, some footnotes are not linked in the text’s body and vice-versa. If you can understand Portuguese language, you are encouraged to read the original, which is far superior.
Article 217-A. Having a penetration or performing another libidinous act with person under the age of fourteen (Included by Law No. 12.015, 2009)
Penalty – imprisonment, from 8 (eight) to 15 (fifteen) years. (Included by Law No. 12,015 of 2009).
– Brazilian Penal Code.
Our laws punish child sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse is, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a situation in which the child or adolescent has a sexual contact that they do not understand, for which they cannot give informed consent or that violates local moral standards.1 For example: sexual exploitation. One person who rapes another is subject to heavy penalties and our Federal Constitution states that child sexual exploitation must be severely punished and, in fact, sexually exploiting a child or adolescent guarantees an even worse penalty to the offender. Sexual abuse, like any other form of abuse, is harmful and can even be a traumatic experience that has serious repercussions throughout an individual’s life. Sexual abuse, such as physical abuse, emotional abuse and verbal abuse, deserve punishment. Thus, if the penetration, or other lewd act, when done without consent, is punishable, it is even more worth punishing if the same act is done to a child or adolescent who is deemed vulnerable. Young people often don’t have the power to say “no” to someone stronger than them. To set the age limit for this vulnerability, our republic has stipulated that you are vulnerable if you are under the age of fourteen: the same age around which boys in ancient Athens were initiated.2 Before the age of fourteen, any libidinous act is a rape crime, even with the victim’s consent, even if the act is harmless, even if the act occurred between two minors.
But what if the minor wants this contact and values it?3 Does the minor have a right to sexuality? Contrary to popular belief, the child is a sexual being.4 The child has desires of an erotic nature, desires centered on oneself or others.5 Such reality becomes undeniable when we consider the teenager who struggles to derive meaning from his puberty.6 The child is motivated to engage in sexual behavior for pleasure and curiosity, while the adolescent is motivated by various things, including romance and a desire for more self-esteem.7 For the adolescent, sex is something emotional, recreational and procreative, but each of the three aspects receives different emphasis depending on the moment.8 Human sexuality serves not only for reproduction, but also as a means of expressing feelings or merely seeking pleasure.9 Science, including medical science, recognizes that the child is not asexual, even less the adolescent, but we are trained to see them in this way, which hinder the impartial appreciation of the “child sexuality” theme, even when such discussion happens in academia. Indeed, books on this subject do not sell because they are outrageous.10 To make matters worse, moral panic over child sexual abuse also hinders the reception of any serious research on the subject of child sexuality, because such talk is “controversial”.11
In this document, I define “child sexuality” as the threefold ability to feel pleasure, desire pleasure, and seek pleasure as long as such pleasure is sexual.12 For example, observe a male baby in a crib. Leave him naked and see how he will touch his genitals for a while and will continue to do so “for no apparent reason.”13 Why does this happen? Why the genitals and not another body part? It’s because, we adults know, genitals are a source of a different and more intense pleasure that can’t be found in the arms, legs, face or belly, although the plastic nature of child sexuality can allow virtually any part of the skin or mucosa to be used as a source of pleasure (and indeed, in the case of babies, according to traditional Freudian theory, such an area is most often the mouth).14 Who could have taught the boy to behave this way? Most boys learn on their own, and some, as teenagers, practice the act with other boys who do the same.15 Many boys have their first ejaculation this way, although it is not a majority phenomenon.16 A large number of adults remember having masturbated before puberty. In fact, the boy’s erectile ability is intrinsic to him: erections can occur in the womb, although many erections are not sexual in nature.18 But it is also true that some adults recall episodes of their childhood in which they felt genital pleasure during seemingly innocuous activities, such as sitting on someone’s knee.19
Some very young children are even capable of displaying signs that coincide with signs of orgasm, although child orgasm is often not aided by fantasies and is abstracted from the meaning that adults give to the act. If the child seeks such sensations, it is only because such sensations bring pleasure on their own.21 They do it because it is “fun”, because they derive pleasure from their body parts.22 If children were asexual, they would not be able to enjoy their body parts in this way. If a child is capable of this sort of pleasure, it is because sexual development began when subject was still a baby. In fact, sexual development begins before birth, when they are still in the womb. Contrary to popular belief, sexual development does not start with the visible signs of puberty: it begins before and continues throughout childhood and adolescence.23 Puberty is only one element of this development.24 One may wonder how this can happen, since the glands that produce sexual hormones are not fully developed in the child. This is because humans do not need such hormones to feel or seek pleasure.25 This is related to the fact that, in practice, human beings do not go into heat: they have sex when they please.26 It is not an entirely hormonal matter, nor a biological demand that drives us to a specific act, but a matter of pleasure. If something feels “nice”, it will be repeated, with or without hormones. It is because of these curiosity-relieving experiments that some children aged six have a rudimentary knowledge about pregnancy.27 By ten years old, most children know about pregnancy.28
If the children feel pleasure, they will want more of it and will seek it out, prompting them to repeat the experience, feeding their curiosity. Children may soon turn to the body of peers, regardless of whether they are boys, girls, brothers, or friends, since child sexuality is indifferent to it. Hence, we see the emergence of those traditional games that we all heard about, such as playing doctor, the oddest incarnations of truth–or–dare, or show–and–tell games, which are further facilitated and modernized by technology.30 But there are authors who dispute the definition of these games as “games”: it is not a mere imitation of adult behavior, because the child and adolescent, if they have sexuality, can act with a truly erotic motivation, which could disqualify these behaviors as “games”.31 In fact, there are children losing their virginity at age eleven, although this is a rare occurrence, more common in populations with low socioeconomic development. On the other hand, for many young people, losing their virginity is trivial: their virginity was lost yesterday, but life goes on today. This suggests that sexual initiation, even when it occurs in adolescence, can be an innocuous and perhaps even insignificant experience depending on the subject. The way each teenager handles the experience varies.33
All things considered, it is not surprising that children and adolescents date each other.34 Some of these relationships are even monogamous and lasting, which, ironically, arouses fear in adults, who interfere with these often peaceful experiences, as this may foreshadow more intimate activities.35 This is a valid concern, since our society accepts that love justifies sexual activity, an ideal that we take for granted, but becomes scandalous if applied indiscriminately: it was the romanticization of sex that led to the acceptance of homosexuality, of premarital sex, and divorce when love ends, things that the most conservative sectors of society find as hard to swallow as the birth control pill.36 If a boy dates a girl because he loves her, who are we to stop them? This is what conservatives are afraid of. That is why it is necessary to insist that “children do not understand love“.
This explains the dating culture within the school, a place where children learn about sexuality with each other during recess, even in the playground.37 Most of these displays of eroticism occur in the context of dating. However, if you pay attention to what most children do when dating, it is difficult to see material, practical reasons for worrying about the phenomenon.39 They are probably just kissing or holding hands. Still, addressing “corruption” requires that we recognize children’s desire for self-determination (they want to be able to control their bodies). If the child is denied this agency by adults, he or she will look for it on his or her own. The question that should be asked would be: how to give this agency without objectifying the minor?40 After all, minors are more concerned with harassment than with “corruption”.41 They want to attract and get involved, but they don’t want to suffer because of it. However, adults rarely make this distinction (harassment and adventure) when it comes to young people, although they do so when it comes to themselves.
From an evolutionary standpoint, the denial of child sexuality did not always exist, we did not act like that before.43 This is even truer in historical terms.44 For example, the traditional Jewish interpretation of Numbers 31:18 states that God, in saying that the Israelites should keep virgin girls (called “children” in some translations of Numbers 31:9) taken as spoils of war for “themselves”, but kill the adult men and women (according to Numbers 31:17), allowed the Israelites to use the captive girls also for sexual purposes. 45 While such an interpretation is disputed, it does not seem out of place considering that the historical context had no age-of-consent laws in the first place and these girls were Midianites, who were considered enemies. We read throughout the books of the Kings and Chronicles that the Israelites had given themselves practices that were not allowed by God, between their departure from Egypt and the Babylonian exile. What would these practices be? It is speculated that one of them was prostitution, possibly also involving children, not because this particular type of prostitution was wrong, but because all forms of prostitution were so.46 In an age without strict laws to govern consent, it is not strange to conclude that children and adolescents also prostituted themselves, not that this was an acceptable practice for the Mosaic code or for the Christian code (Jeremiah 13:27, Ezekiel 43:9, Acts 15:20-29). Many of these practices ceased after the return from Babylonian exile: Israel had learned its lesson, at least for the time being. Excluding prostitution, Hebrews, as described in the Talmud, could marry girls as young as three. In ancient Christian communities, the age for the same effect was seven. Prior to this, if the subject had a precocious relationship with someone before the age of three or seven, the sexual act would be null and the marriage, if it had occurred, would also be null. Still on the subject of Christianity, clergy historically abused their authority: clergy used their authority to obtain sex from those under their authority, and victims of forced sex were threatened with excommunication if they revealed the incident.47
In other cultures, such as in ancient Greece, boys were sexually initiated by adult men, in relationships regarded at the time as pedagogical. For example, it was a masculine task to raise a local boy. This boy would then have this man as his mentor. From him, the boy would learn the male virtues, which would be taught by conversation and by role-modeling. Such teachers sometimes took on the role of lover, and the boy’s sex education was also a task for this teacher and lover, who was usually friends with the boy’s father.49 It seems strange to today’s citizen that homosexuality used to be regarded as “masculine” in distant times, but, in ancient Greece, it was viewed by some as part of masculinity. Maybe it was considered masculine not to need a woman. In ancient Rome, boys and girls attended solemn dinners wearing little or no clothing and had sexual encounters after dinner was over. Kinsey witnessed similar (but often motivated by financial need) lewd events on his trip to Rome in the last century, though not so openly, since times changed.52
According to Petersen, sexuality becomes a moral problem with Christianity.53 This may be because, although the law of Moses, for example, did not prohibit sexual relations between two women, but only between man and man, man and animal, woman and animal (Leviticus 18:22-25), which suggests that sex and therefore sexual sin needs penetration to occur, Paul said we should avoid “debauchery” (Galatians 5:19-21). This leaves ample room for reflection on which acts are moral and which are not. Because of this, the prohibitions extended beyond those explicitly written: what acts, besides those explicitly prohibited, constitute debauchery?54 The use of terms such as “debauchery” or “immorality” facilitates the segmentation of the Christian movement into different denominations: as these are terms that vary according to culture, that is, according to time and space, or even from person to person, it is unlikely that two Christians, while trying to follow the Holy Bible to the letter, would be in complete agreement as to what is and what is not sin. Morals change: what is immoral today was not yesterday and may not be tomorrow.55
In the Middle Ages, it was not uncommon to get married and have precocious sexual contacts at age eleven.56 This was because, at that time, sexual relations that did not involve adultery, bigamy, among other practices unacceptable from a religious point of view (because sin and crime would often coincide) were often lawful. precocious sexual contacts did not necessarily fall into these categories, so it was not automatically prohibited, provided it was also voluntary. Age-of-consent laws are relatively recent and the early ages of consent were very low, being increased over the years, by movements aimed at sexual purity, for example.57
In England, the first law to govern this matter appeared in 1548, and advocated that no boy should be subjected to sodomy. Then, in 1576, another law passed, condemning to death anyone who raped a girl under ten. Rape here must be understood as forced sex, not voluntary sex. Sex before age ten was invalid, that is, legally invalid if it was voluntary, but not a crime (except in the case of rape). The first age of consent as we know it today, at least in English territory, was ten years for girls only. In the same year, in Italy, Germany and France, the age requirement for a lawful relationship was puberty, when the subject was no longer considered a child, but an adult, earning the right to participate in adulthood. Only with the construction of youth as a distinct period of life, from the nineteenth century, that children and adolescents were excluded from the spheres of adult socialization to devote themselves exclusively to education.58 We are led to believe that there was never a time when such relationships were accepted. When it comes to historical sexuality, the focus is on the heterosexual adult couple.59 This repression is relatively recent, although the “discovery” of the child as a sexual being, which explores such a facet with other children, has been more than a century old.60 Thus, the concept of innocent child and sex child coexisted and still coexist.
In the twentieth century, the work of Alfred Kinsey and his colleagues comes out. They discovered that sexual experiences before age thirteen are not uncommon. Not only that, but subsequent to this study, the research team suggested that the sexual contact between subjects of very different ages, even when the youngest is “immature,” is normal in other mammals.61 Sexual games between immature subjects are also pointed by others, even in birds. If the human being is the only mammal who makes a fuss about this phenomenon and has not done so before, it cannot be said that precocious sexual contacts are abnormal (they are historically frequent and probably remain frequent) or unnatural (they occur in nature). In the nineties, some people began to question child asexuality as a concept that was timely applied exclusively to girls, so that the girl was deprived, early in life, of any means of developing self-determination. The discourse of asexuality, especially when applied only to the girl, served to subdue the future woman.64 Fighting to save a sexual girl’s virginity could then lead us to admit that she has an interest in losing said virginity, that is, claiming that she is sexual and because of that she must be tamed. There would be no need to fight so hard for it if adults were the only “threats” to the girl’s unwanted purity. In the case of homosexual or bisexual boys, Bruce Rind, in his study of Savin-Williams data, found that most of the subjects in his sample already identified or suspected their homosexuality or bisexuality during childhood. This would only be possible if these boys recognized that their same-sex attraction had an erotic component that differentiated it from mere friendship. Strangely, displays of “corrupted” behavior are not seen as problematic when the sexual child is a (presumably heterosexual) boy. Sexuality is seen more as a problem in female childhood, while the major problem of male childhood is violence, not that boys’ sexuality is always taken as positive.67
Despite these recent conflicts, our sexual morality still dictates that the “good” relationship is heterosexual, adult, monogamous, marital, and reproductive. Anything that deviates from it is “bad”. If child sexuality does not fit this model, it must be suppressed or, if not possible, repressed. Thus, child asexuality is not intrinsic, but comes from outside. And if it is to be defended, it is because asexuality is fragile, and it would not be fragile if it were part of the childish nature. Asexuality, or childhood in general, is an ideal, not the child in fact. It is an ideological and educational model, therefore cultural and historical. The clear consequence of this is that the self-determination, especially that of the girl, but also of the boy, is denied.70
The very idea that the child is asexual, or at least should be asexual, is a few centuries old. At first this asexuality had to be forced and it was believed that such an attitude would be beneficial to the child. Also about this age is the ban on precocious sexual contacts, as we saw in the previous paragraphs. To know the reason behind such a young prohibition, we have to look at the lives of minors around this time. In the past, minors were introduced to adult society early on by participating in adult activities and attending to places where adults gathered. Minors learned a profession in childhood and exercised it in their teens. Around adolescence, they built families. This did not make them adults, but minors of that time participated in the adult world without being adults, a world in which they were encouraged to participate. They were small, they were less capable, but they were by no means considered totally incapable because of their age. Such disadvantage would be remedied by living with adults, that is, it was not the age that mattered, but the experience, which can only be obtained by living.
With Enlightenment, ideas such as “human beings are naturally good, but society corrupts them” and “mind is a blank sheet in early life” paved the way for the modern concept of asexuality, which ultimately led us to worry about what we are teaching our children. Thus, by the end of the nineteenth century, the child had to be protected from sex, politics, and socialization with adults. The adult world and the child’s world were separated: before, there was a single world in which the two beings participated. But even after the conception of asexuality appeared, sexual wisdom was still accepted if it came gradually. For example, the fact that asexuality was a concept that arose before the twentieth century did not annihilate teenage marriage and the pregnancy that could arise from it. Childhood asexuality has been denied by Freud, but its effect on the collective unconscious remains. In fact, even after Freud, sexuality was still seen as a risk, even to the teenager. However, separate worlds can rediscover themselves: as Levine points out, children are enrolling in college, adults are returning to school, among other things that show that these worlds tend toward reconciliation, although child and adult are separate political categories and studied separately. The separation between the worlds is artificial. Child and adult are different concepts, but concrete subjects are not concepts.
According to Herdt, there are several isolated tribes in Papua New Guinea, for example, in which boys may have sexual experiences, but only with other boys. Heterosexual activity can only occur within marriage in these tribes, so that before marriage the boy has no choice but to build a precocious relationship with another boy. This is cultural to them, a custom. Other tribes have other customs: the sexual relationship between minor and adult may have social significance as part of a rite of passage that involves the initiation of the subject into adult sex life.77 According to Bettelheim, Australian aborigines live without any sexual modesty, seeing no problem in discussing sexuality with their children. The sexuality of the little ones is not repressed and sexual games between minors and an adult are not taboo. Same goes with some Polynesians. Certain games are actually played in public by the very young, but they become secretive with age.79 The Múria tribe of India encourages girls to be sexually initiated by older boys. This tribe also encourages small boys to bond with older girls.80
The Chewa tribe of Africa believes that precocious sexual contacts initiation favors fertility and the little ones choose potential partners for marriage by playing “dad and mom” with each other. Thus, we see that the denial of child sexuality is a culture-dependent phenomenon: child sexuality exists everywhere and in all historical contexts, but our attitudes towards it vary. The child’s sex life is as complete as is allowed by the society in which the child lives. Given these anthropological data, the view propagated by the Western social sciences seems very narrow, but this is because anthropological data such as these are often ignored or generally unknown.83
If the nonsexual child is uncommon, the presumed asexuality is contestable. But that is not to say that children are perverted: the degree of interest in these activities varies from child to child, but it varies less in adolescence.
If children were asexual, we would not have to enact a law to prevent them from performing lewd acts on each other before the age of fourteen or to exert our efforts in purity campaigns, nor would have any need to stress that “children don’t understand love”, as it would be self-evident. According to Robinson and Davies, children not only date, but are capable of feelings of love and intimacy with other children, which, according to Renold, is evident in the pain felt when a relationship abruptly ends.85 Love is felt for the first time around the age of five: children’s love seems legitimate, pleasant, and joyful. The child does not need special training or education to feel and recognize tenderness or love. There is no reason for this feeling to be trivialized, minimized, or ignored as a love that is not “real.” Children not only feel attracted to same age peers, but even an adult can be the object of childish desire: Albert Moll tells us about a girl who, in love with her teacher, was trying to get her attention by studying harder at school, a phenomenon intensified by the jealousy felt when the teacher paid attention to another student who could perform better than her. So the girl tried to be the best student possible, the best in her class. Looking at cases of this nature, Moll even implies that children who change their behavior (for the better, in this case) for no apparent reason may be motivated by love. The same goes for the child who wants to act more “adult-like” when around a specific person: it may be an attempt to get the attention from the desired person.88
However, it must be recalled that there is a difference between feeling love and understanding it. In fact, many adults do not understand love. Such an understanding of love requires its conceptualization and a rational work of the resulting concept, that is, it is the task for philosophy, not for mere common sense. Now, such lack of understand does not prevent adults from enjoying love, because, to do so, you just have to feel love. So, yes, children date because they are capable of love even if they do not understand it well, just like many, if not most, adults.90 Incidentally, child love is sometimes recalled as the most sincere love by some adults. One may wonder where those sexual children are, as no one sees them. They have plenty of reasons to hide what they do, especially considering the legal climate. 92
If children were asexual, conservative parents would not need to suppress their child’s masturbation, nor would there be any need for school dress codes that forbid the use of skirts. The more we deny that children are sexual, the more we repress the sexuality that already exists in them and, consequently, the more we admit that it exists. If it did not exist, we would not fight it: child sexual desire is a reality that we can not confess. Concerns about the “purification” of the child are a reflection of the moral panic regarding relationships between an adult and minors, which leads us to attitudes that, because they are taken in haste, do little to reduce the frequency of these relationships, with some solutions being opportunistic and political in nature.96
Another evidence against childhood asexuality is objectification of the girl by the girl herself. Excessive preoccupation with the body, the weight, the clothes, the feeling of shame and guilt felt with the failure to achieve the ideal body, these are consequences of this objectification. The use of provocative looks is very present in the media and the girl understands that she can use this aesthetic to attract attention, through clothes and makeup, obtained even in children’s fashion stores. Why would the girl want such appearance so badly? Renold interviewed school-age girls (around age eleven) to find out the answer and found that one of the reasons is the desire to get boys’ attention. The reason for this varies from desire for romance to using the relationship as a status symbol. But a status symbol is only recognized as such in a community where such status is desired by others. If there is a girl who is interested in relationships to acquire status, it is reasonable to assume that there are other girls who want those relationships, so the girl who manages to attract a boy is taken more into account. Our society views this as unhealthy: the normal girl, if asexual, shouldn’t want to look “corrupted”, shouldn’t want to date, shouldn’t want to behave “like a woman”. However, in another interview, Allen and Ingram find that, for girls from eleven to thirteen, desire is normal. Here’s the conflict: What adults abhor is not abhorrent to minors.
Nonetheless, girls themselves exert a limit on these practices, so girls want to behave provocatively without crossing the line of ridicule, which would diminish the girl’s status in relation to other girls. But adopting a provocative or mature look is not always enough: girls practice dancing moves that they learn through media. They practice and display dance movements with erotic charge. Adults repudiate this, but do not wonder why minors would be into such dances in the first place.
In the case of boys, the practice of building sexual relationships for status also exists: sexual expression is considered masculine, something to be proud of, especially if the boy has evidence that something has happened or is happening.105 The boy also objectifies himself for the girl, but not in the way the girl does: while the girl wants to be provocative and show her voluptuous form, the boy wants to pose as strong and big. The ideal body of many girls is the slim body and the ideal body of many boys is the “buff” one. And, yes, these muscles are not pursued solely for health purposes, but above all to cause attraction and receive approval. If we think that children are asexual, we ignore that girls objectify themselves for the boy, and vice versa, which causes us to blame the media, culture or education for the child’s “”corruption””, when in fact the child is already sexual. So we ignore the cause of a lot of problems that modern kids have to deal with. After all, child sexuality exists and children, if abandoned to themselves, will not be able to handle their feelings as well as if they were instructed by an authority. To do so, it must be admitted that children and adolescents have a desire to be attractive.
One may still ask, “How does the child learn that a particular outfit or attitude is sexually attractive?” They derive this knowledge from interaction with the environment, the media, and other minors.108 Children are not idiots. They observe the behavior of adults, both those shown by the media and those who live in the same house as them, and ascribe meaning to what they observe, an ability that matures with them.109 For example, Anna Sparrman tells us about a study with preadolescents in which they were given some images that we adults recognize as provocative in order to know how the interviewed children would react. Most were able to identify which traits make a picture sexy, through a collective effort. Thus, children can recognize when adults are trying to seduce or provoke attraction. Finally, observation is not the only information channel to which the child has access: children can obtain information from other children, books, the Internet, and directly from parents.111
Thus, minors who see the adult body can see themselves and the adult as subjects capable of attraction, that is, the sexuality of the world, especially as displayed by the media, has an effect on the little ones, but one has to wonder if this effect would not be a result of the child’s relationship to the body that is seen in the magazine, for example, and not only of the image or only of the child. No: seduction does not exist without a subject who understands it. The seductive appeal, therefore, lies in both the seducer and the seduced. And seduction is everywhere, thanks to the media, which “corrupt” everything.112 The fact that children identify and respond to seduction with their own attributions of meaning leads Sparrman to question whether child sexuality and adult sexuality are, in fact, two sides of the same spectrum. If that’s the case, there is no need to wait up to the age of twelve to provide sex education, nor to offer differentiated sex education for boys and girls. If the prepubescent can notice when another individual is trying to cause attraction, so can the pubescent, who, in the confusion of his or her hormones, comes across a person who has perfectly matured secondary sexual characteristics. Thus, even if we want to doubt the sexuality of the child, it is much more difficult to doubt the sexuality of the adolescent.
This should suffice to show that childhood asexuality is a myth: children have sexuality and want to understand it because they want to understand themselves as sexual beings who participate, voluntarily or not, in the categories “boy” or “girl”. In fact, the way we imagine children to be is a collection of prejudices, motivated by the adult rationalization of our own moral problems: the sexuality of nowadays is unacceptable, so we have to prevent the child’s “corruption” so that the next generation comes to develop in the “right” way.115 This concern is not recent: according to Egan and Hawkes paraphrases, literary novels, comic books, television programs, and the Internet have all been accused, in different historical contexts, of putting the asexuality of children at risk. This is because our sexual morals are centered on concepts of “adult” and “private,” so that our sexual morality views child sexuality as immoral. The concept of asexuality is in the collective unconscious. Because of it, child sexuality causes astonishment. Child sexuality is denied because it makes parents nervous about how the child is going to develop.117
This shows that the battle for asexuality has never been won, but on the contrary: it is because sexuality is intrinsic to children and adolescents that the battle for asexuality is a losing battle. Pointing to the media is just a way of blaming someone for child sexual “corruption”. It never occurs to sensationalists that precocious sexual experiences can be voluntary or pleasurable because it is uncomfortable to admit it. No, child sexuality is always seen as a problem. And maybe that reflects on our laws. The child does not feel asexuality as it is a concept created by adults and applied to children. Only adults worry about the “loss of innocence”. Perhaps this is why the girls interviewed by Allen and Ingram do not feel “corrupted” by expressing sexual desire or knowledge. But such desire varies. For example: some children, especially very young children, say that they should only kiss after marriage, with exceptions reserved for parents and other family members. But there were cases where the kiss between father and daughter landed a parent in jail, as we will see in the next section.
As we see in the news, the Brazilian age of consent law does not set a minimum age for the offense: a precocious relationship between two minors is an infraction analogous to the crime of “rape of minor” if we take the text of the law literally. If the difference between friendship and dating is lust, then the law, by banning lustful acts before the age of fourteen, is implicitly saying that dating before the age of fourteen is prohibited. And yes, there are cases where teen dating became a case for police intervention. If the precept that love justifies sex must be maintained but cannot be applied to children and adolescents, reconciliation can only be made by pretending that children and adolescents are unable to love each other “for real.” Thus the libidinous act before the age of fourteen can only be forced (rape). That means that, in Brazil, if a 13-year-old kisses his peer-aged partner, that is analogous to rape. Renold, in his observation of a group of children in a UK school, observed a boy sitting on his girlfriend. The boy then kissed her. In a report by Robinson, when photographer Anthony Browell was tired of trying to take pictures of adults kissing (because none of them made a convincing kiss), two children interrupted the photographer and said they were able to kiss convincingly. The resulting photo was accepted by him and used in advertising. In Brazil, such events would cause problems, perhaps legal problems, to a greater or lesser extent.
A law is usually made after unwanted behavior is perceived. If there is a law that forbids libidinous acts before the age of fourteen, it is because such contacts occur. In his interviews with boys, Renold realized that boys, still in their childhood, have sexual curiosity: they want to know what sex is like and they want to know more about a girl’s body. In addition, Renold reports that boys show dissatisfaction with their sex education classes. Contrary to popular belief, school sex education does not teach how sex is done and that is precisely the concern of boys: if they are deprived of any means of obtaining information about intercourse itself, there is no guarantee that they will know what to do when they get sexually involved with someone later in life. They develop nervousness about this subject, such nervousness being an undeclared goal in our sex education. Sex needs to be an uncomfortable subject in our society, especially for boys, because we consider this subject to be outrageous, something that children should not see with naturalness. Some boys who are dissatisfied with this situation turn to older girls who are willing to tell them about the opposite sex (older sisters, for example) and are even willing to consume female media to find out how girls think. This may lead the boy to satisfy his curiosity with a real girl.
Even boys who show no signs of puberty, nor have a habit of touching their genitals, express a desire for physical contact with the opposite sex, including a desire to kiss girls. Unfortunately, practices such as these have put young people in trouble, since teenage dating between people who are not fourteen years old is, as we said, an offense in Brazil, which requires educational measures, ranging from a warning to up to three years in a reformatory institution for rehabilitation of young offenders. But dating is prevalent: the average age for first dating in New Zealand is thirteen.129 Don’t you remember falling in love when you were a child? If the law was perfect in its application, the judiciary system would be overloaded with such causes, which would even delay the assessment of crimes with victims. I say this because two teenagers dating each other before the age of fourteen is a victimless infraction. This is even more delicate for children: in his study of the sexual subjectivity of four- and five-year-old children, Robinson shows that kissing between children is display of profound affection (when not done in a context of play). It is so true that many children link kissing to marriage and are willing to marry those they want to kiss. Are we really going to punish this? Because the literal text of the law opens this possibility.
This may help explain why boys consume pornography: in addition to helping with masturbation, pornography shows what sex education does not show (how sex is done) as well as what a women’s clothing hide. If the boy is a child, not a teenager, parents may be held responsible for their child’s “porno adventure”. The average age for first contact with pornography is, at least outside Brazil, eleven years. And, contrary to what one might expect, this encounter with the provocative image is not intrinsically traumatic. All of this contributes to the fact that the child and adolescent have sexual information, so that contrary to popular belief, sexual knowledge is not a sure sign that the child has been abused or has had sex: our “corrupted” world offers many opportunities to learn about sex without actually having sex.134 Of course pornography and school sex education are not the only means of obtaining information, although a holistic sex education would be the ideal choice in terms of quality.135
Laws like these can be enacted only for the political purpose of self-promotion. What’s more, whenever we create new crimes, more arrests occur, giving the impression that there are more criminals, an impression that is only correct because the laws have changed, not because the behavior has changed. Nevertheless, the sense that crime is on the rise also prompts people to call for even stricter (and more expensive) laws. These people didn’t suddenly become dangerous with the nod of the presidential pen.
Returning to our initial question, if the child has a right to sexuality, the law is silent on this point. Even if the act is voluntary, even if it does not occur in the context of prostitution, even if engaged between two minors, even if they have a stable relationship, it is rape (or rather, analogous to rape, as no one under age 18 in Brazil can be handled by the penal system, but rather by the juvenile system, which means that children do not commit crimes, but infractions that are “analogous” to crimes): the child or adolescent cannot believe in their own consent, because it is assumed that people under the age of 14 do not know what they are saying. Thus, the so-called “child sexual abuse” needs not be forced, needs not occur between minor and non-minor, needs not be painful or harmful and needs not be penetrative to be typified as such, even if parents do not see a problem in it, because a person under the age of 14 is psychologically immature. Perhaps because of this, both vulnerable and an adult are taken by surprise by this law, because illegality is not always clear to those who engage in illegal libidinous acts, perhaps because we have the idea that something must do some harm to be considered a crime. If the act is voluntary and harmless, how can it be abuse?
The law that protects is the same law that punishes, and that law can punish those it should guard. Thus, as Stevi Jackson and Sue Scott argue, the assertion that sexuality is a special area of human behavior from which children must be protected is actually detrimental to the well-being of the child who is a sexual being in a “corrupted” world, but also bound to adult beliefs that deny both the child’s sexuality and the impact of the “corrupted” world upon the child. The war against child sexuality is a sacrifice of the physical child in the name of the ideal child. The sooner we see that our idea of children doesn’t match what children are, the better it will be for all of us.
One might argue that laws are not built for nothing and that such a prohibition, even if it seems heavy, has a strong justification. This is not always true. To illustrate: same-sex relationships are a crime in thirty-eight of the fifty-five African countries. What would be the solid reason for this? Thus, the fact that a legislator issues a bill and such bill passes does not guarantee that the resulting law will be rational. Consider this: the law, by making no distinction between what is libidinous and what is not, led adults to trial for harmless acts, such as kissing their children. How can it be beneficial for a child to be deprived of a beloved father or uncle for an act whose presumed violence was not even felt? The separation between father and son can have tragic psychological consequences for the young. How can a “rational and justified” law do such a thing?
This reaction is especially severe in the case of relationships between minors and an adult because the moral panic surrounding such relationships already predisposes us to a negative judgment of the older party’s attitude, undermining the presumption of innocence, even if there was no actual crime or offense. Even if certain absurdities were not committed, there is still a historical difficulty in saying exactly what sex is, this being a complex aspect of human activity. So if we decided not to punish “lewd acts” in general anymore, such as kissing, but only sex in the strict sense, it is still difficult to know exactly what is punishable. What is “sex in the strict sense”? When is something sexual? How to prove that something was done in a sexual context? How to prove sexual intent? Depending on who judges, several things can be sexual. Is it possible to make them all illegal as long as one of the subjects is vulnerable?
Moreover, another problem we see in the laws is that the age of consent implies the concept of presumption of violence. If consent is invalid, a yes is equivalent to a no. If there is a precocious relationship going on, violence is presumed to have occurred because the minor, psychologically immature according to the interpretation of the law, cannot consent. And if you can’t, your consent is invalid. If consent is invalid, there was no consent, hence the term “rape” of minor. The judiciary will regard the incident as violent. One might argue that the law should not presume anything and so the term “presumption of violence” is incorrect, but it in fact presumes: the law must at least presume that the defendant is innocent until evidence to the contrary contradicts such presumption. If so, how does the presumption of violence stands? If the law presumes nothing, there is still the exception that it presumes the defendant’s innocence, then evidence against the presumption of violence should be accepted and the presumption of violence, rather than absolute (does not accept proof on the contrary), should be relative (accepts proof on the contrary). What would be the rational criterion for instituting, side by side, the presumption of innocence and the presumption of violence? There is a contradiction here. So even if the legislature made its laws in full possession of reason, the judiciary may from time to time interpret the laws erratically.
Fortunately, the São Paulo court said a little too late that consented kissing is not rape. However, the fact is that parents were arrested for harmless acts before such ruling. If kisses could be rape in Ceará in 2009, but not in São Paulo in 2012, what counts as libidinous and what does not? Is there a closed definition of “sexuality”? The law does not say, or at least it is unclear: it is not possible to know whether or not the affection I show for a child can be regarded as “libidinous” by a judge. So the law doesn’t always know what’s best. And when we see that a law is undermining personal freedom for no good reason, we should speak against it, especially if that law is harming children and adolescents, as I will try to show below (in the secondary victimization section).
In spite of all this, perhaps the problem of child sexual repression could be ignored. Who knows? Maybe this is a small problem. Even if that were true, it is a problem that tends to increase. At puberty, child sexuality becomes closer and closer to that of an adult: subjects understand that the pleasure they feel can be shared to be amplified. They will want more intimate experiences, different from childish superficiality. And puberty, as adults observe, is coming sooner and sooner. Because of this, the tendency is that the problem of child sexual desire will worsen: this is the world in which puberty starts before adolescence starts, putting into question the argument that the physical immaturity of the minor makes such relationships questionable, since such maturity (in this case, reproductive maturity) is coming earlier. For many, adolescence is a time of “boiling hormones” in which our desire intensifies. However, if adolescence is a social construct that links childhood to adulthood as chronological steps, it makes more sense to attribute such “boil” to puberty, not adolescence. We have to prepare for a future where this ebullition will begin sooner. According to Campbell and colleagues, the first sign of puberty occurs at age 11 for boys, with sperm production beginning on average at age 13, when the first male orgasm commonly occurs (although it can happen earlier or later depending on the subject and the experience he had). In girls, however, the first sign of puberty occurs at age ten on average, but can occur at any age between eight and twelve, with menarche occurring at age twelve, usually. Thus, puberty begins before the age of fourteen, which is the age of consent in Brazil.
What is causing puberty to occur earlier and earlier? Because puberty is a hormonal process, the answer may lie in factors that alter the functioning of the endocrine system. Unfortunately, most studies on this subject are focused on girls, so theories that explain the increasingly early occurrence of puberty may not be valid for boys. One such theory concerns weight. Campbell and colleagues identify two theories that make the relationship between weight gain and precocious puberty: puberty begins when the body’s energy reserves are at an acceptable level to begin the process or the first signs are forced to occur because of the secretion of estrogen by adipose cells.157
Whatever the truth is, the excess of calories consumed could start puberty earlier. For Dehghan and colleagues, excessive weight gain among minors is facilitated by over-consumption of sugar (especially sugar in soda), lack of exercise, consumption of larger portions of food and lower consumption of fruit and vegetables. Rapid weight gain at certain stages of childhood accelerates the occurrence of puberty. And indeed, there has never been easier access to greasy or sugary food than now. This adds to the natural tendency of some ethnic groups to mature faster, such as us, South Americans.
Another theory that attempts to explain the early occurrence of puberty concerns substances of natural or synthetic origin found. Such substances can be found in water, food or even air. Such substances alter the normal functioning of the endocrine system when consumed. Finally, another theory concerns the personal stress experienced by the child. Things like absent father, emotionally distant mother, and family conflicts that could arise from such things cause stress, and stress also alters endocrine functioning.160
Since puberty is a time when desire intensifies, it is no wonder that the effort to refrain from satisfaction is sometimes too great to keep at all times. This is compounded by the fact that prohibition makes crime known: if children or adolescents learn that such an impulse cannot be satisfied, they will fight the urge, but fighting it requires that it be kept in mind. You end up thinking more about sex than you would if you didn’t know that such satisfaction is prohibited. That undermines self-control. Very sexually restrictive societies sometimes have higher frequencies of sex crimes.162
That is why this work is pertinent. Our laws are conflict with nature. This will make more minors be punished for natural urges, which can be satisfied by mutual agreement with people they love, a phenomenon facilitated by the natural disposition of youth. Minors not only have hurried bodies, but also possess a hurried mind, holder of knowledge and language previously reserved for adults. Add to it the “corruption” in the media, and soon the critical diagnosis of our concept of childhood becomes evident.164 In the name of childhood (concept), not in the name of children (concrete subjects), society has been interfering with child sexuality. Society makes sexuality a problem, and it is because of it’s insistence on sexuality as a problem that our society is unable to offer a good solution. Childhood has been in crisis for a long time, but now the crisis is clear to everyone: children reject asexuality in front of their parents. Today, children are entitled to political engagement (more in some countries, such as Brazil, than others) and reject their passive role. Many even behave with surprising autonomy and are directly heard by some governments. That didn’t happen before.
Such a phenomenon calls into question classical development theories that treat minors as totally incompetent and dependent. Not that such theories were not challenged before by anthropology, which examines societies other than ours, such as indigenous ones, where children have autonomy and responsibility that our children do not enjoy. Now we see children in Western Christian capitalist society recovering their autonomy, little by little. If we do not change the concept of childhood to reflect real children, who adapt to new times faster than adults do, new times brought to us by politics (sexual tolerance), social changes (availability of information and media) and economy (consumer culture), we will never have an efficient way to deal with child sexuality.168
Concepts are stable, but the material subjects to which the concept refers are always changing. Today’s child is not yesterday’s child, if yesterday’s “child” ever existed: were your early years, reader, stereotypical? Is such stereotype universal? The concept of childhood we have is outdated. The reluctance to change this concept has led to acts of censorship (the classic example is our concern for the kind of music that the next generation is listening to), in order to keep the minor ignorant and “pure”. However, either because of curiosity or biological pressure, minors want knowledge and experience. They want to get dirty. One might imagine that this problem is even greater in adolescents or children for whom puberty has come too soon. What it seems to me is that we are trying to defend childhood as a concept from the attacks that come from concrete children and adolescents.
The purpose of this text is to suggest how the law should behave so that it maintains its punitive capacity and enhances its protective capacity, verifying what are the problems around the age of consent. The method for the creation of this text is the bibliographical revision: using texts that are already available, I will make a bridge between philosophical argumentation, scientific data and the law, more specifically the Federal Constitution and the Brazilian Child and Adolescent Statute.
The freedoms cannot be limited without careful consideration.170 Then, in the next two sections (the doctrine of informed consent and the prevalence of harmless sexual contacts before the age of consent), the focus of the text will be the scrutiny of such limitations imposed on child sexuality, to see if such limitations are warranted. In addition, it is the duty of all, including mine, to ensure the physical and mental well-being of children and adolescents. Then, in the secondary victimization section, we will also see if literal application of the law has negative consequences for the child or adolescent. If it has, the way we deal with the phenomenon of child sexuality is immoral and the law must change.171
Thus, our goal is to verify whether the limitations imposed on child sexuality are justified philosophically or scientifically and to verify whether these limitations are good or bad for children and adolescents. If the limitations are not justified or if the law is actually harmful, it needs to be rethought. It is our goal as a republic to promote the well-being of all, without prejudice, including ageism (Brazilian Federal Constitution, article 3, item IV). Although the subject matter of this text is controversial, I have constitutional rights to freedom of thought and expression (Brazilian Federal Constitution, article 5, items IV and IX, and article 220; Universal Declaration of Human Rights, articles 18 and 19). Although I am writing and publishing this text, its use depends on the readers, who are responsible for their actions.
I highlight ten rights that children and adolescents have and will check throughout the text if any of them are violated by the age of consent law.
To be raised in an environment that guarantees the minor’s integral development.
To live with family.
To being punished humanely, without humiliation or ridicule, by those who should protect the minor.
To respect, this includes protection of one’s physical and mental integrity.
To freedom, which includes freedom of opinion and expression.
To be treated as a developing human being.
To not be treated inhumanly or in a degrading manner.
To be protected from violence.
To have one’s best interest as a guiding element of legal decisions.
For this text, I am equating “best interest” with the concept of “best interest” as used by Lavin: what is good for children is what keeps them in good condition. The “good condition” we are looking for has three levels: physical, mental, and social. The road to this triple good condition must be pointed by science. I make these specifications to avoid the ambiguity implied in the term “best interest”, as the definition of best interest may vary according to who evaluates the situation. On the subject of the welfare of the child, see especially secondary victimization. Note, however, that Lavin says that cultural beliefs, even without scientific support, may come into the calculation of the minor’s best interest, but I notice that cultural beliefs about child sexuality cause verifiable harm to the child. If there is a conflict between science and culture, science is preferable because it is safer and less variable, at least in cases where one’s welfare is under discussion.174
There is a difference between simply saying “yes” and saying a legally valid “yes”. If the “yes” does not count as a legally valid “yes”, it is muted. In sexual matters, this means that a legally invalid “yes” is practically equivalent to a “no,” that is, the act was rape. The legally valid “yes” is also called “informed consent”. It differs from “pure” consent, defined as the presence of intimacy, affective bond, shared pleasure, and mutual respect, which is not sufficient for the law.175 The doctrine of informed consent rests on two pillars: sufficient information and power equality.
In the first pillar, an individual’s consent is valid if he is aware of the consequences of the act and understands it.176 In the second pillar, the individual’s consent is valid if both parties have equal physical, mental and social capacity. This is how informed consent works, at least in sexual matters. This may help to explain why, historically, the consent of the adult woman was not always valid, so that relations between man and woman could be considered illegal even if they were voluntary, because society had the idea that a woman was unable to issue legally valid consent. Maybe that was because we had the idea that women were intellectually inferior and also physically weaker. Today we know that this is not always the case: women are as capable of issuing informed consent as we, men, are, and they are not always weak, especially in the legal sense, so that they can counteract the violence that may have been done to them.
First, no one is fully aware of the consequences of a given act (even if the act is understood), and if this were a requirement for all human relationships, none would be morally acceptable. We can only be aware of the approximate consequences, for example, by education and experience. Also, as people like to experiment, we often do something for which we are not sufficiently informed. Unfortunately, we only become aware of our lack of information when something goes wrong. A critic of this doctrine might say that if we can perform or receive lewd acts to or from someone only after being sufficiently informed, sexual experimentation is never consensual.
Another criticism that could be raised concerns the nature of information: whether it is theoretical or practical. If to perform or accept a libidinous act I need theoretical information, the subject just needs to prove to be sexually educated. Why not inform the youth then? Because society, the child’s guardian, thinks that the minor will not use this information correctly. Here is a circular reasoning, pay attention: youth are not informed, because those charged with informing youth deny them information; there is no need to inform youth, because youth must be protected (vulnerability), including from the bad choices they could make with such information; youth must be protected, because sexual expression before the age of fourteen is dangerous; sexual expression before the age of fourteen is dangerous because youth are not informed enough to express themselves sexually; youth is not informed, because the subjects in charge of informing youth deny them such information (and deny access to information because youth is vulnerable and so on). Nevertheless, theoretical information is accessible to every teenager today by other means, such as the media and even sex education given at school, so one has to assume that all minors are sexually ignorant.179
If it’s practical information that I need, then I can never have my first time, since I can only have practical information (experience) by trying to perform the act. So the reasoning is circular here too: I can’t have sexual experiences because I don’t have practical information, but I can’t get practical information without building sexual relationships. The most interesting part is that turning fourteen doesn’t give me that information. If consent depends on information, it is education that counts, not age. Whether we consider practical or merely theoretical information, the refusal of information is always circular (ignorance depends on vulnerability and vice versa), therefore invalid. Thus, the argument that minors are always sexually ignorant is not enough to invalidate sexual consent, especially because it is hard to find a sexually ignorant minor nowadays, despite our efforts to safeguard them from knowledge.
Secondly, power disparity is intrinsic to human relationships. There is a disparity in physical strength between man and woman, between fat and thin, between strong and weak. There is a disparity in mental strength between literate and illiterate people, between high school and college students, between people with different intelligence quotients. There is a disparity in social strength between ordinary citizen and president, between teacher and student, between rich and poor. However, it would not necessarily be forbidden for any of these disparate parties to perform lewd acts on the other; otherwise, even heterosexual relationships would encounter ethical barriers. As Malón tells us, such obstacles are constantly mentioned by radical feminism, according to which a woman can never give valid consent to a heterosexual relationship because she is socially disadvantaged towards men eager for dominance, so that all relationships between man and woman imply the use of women as a mere means of satisfaction. Even seduction is a veiled violence. It should be recalled that there are a number of women and girls who do not think in the same way as popular feminists, but they are only listened to when in agreement with these more conservative views of feminism. Thus feminism overrides women whose opinion is undesirable.182
Now, so far, power disparity has not invalidated heterosexual relationships. This is because exploitation is a contingent concept: presence of power, use of power, and abuse of power are different things, so that even in a situation of inequality, the stronger part will not necessarily use its advantages to derive more from the relationship than the other, disadvantaged party, that is, both can enjoy a relationship equally, even though they are naturally unequal.183 Thus, the presence or absence of exploitation must be identified or discarded on a case-by-case basis.184 In the case of informed consent for sex specifically, power equality is there only to ensure that neither party was manipulated, coerced or otherwise forced into the act.185 Thus, if exploitation is a situation in which one person has an advantage over another at the expense of that person, then exploitation does not occur every time an unequal relationship is built, as will be seen in the prevalence of harmless sexual contacts before the age of consent.186 Moreover, this view negates the benefit of power disparity, such as identification, important to pedagogy, and opens the possibility of legal intrusion into nonsexual relationships, but which are also unequal.187 Thus, the power disparity is insufficient to invalidate consent as well.
Finally, as Mulya tells us, the power dynamics in an unequal relationship can be subverted by the minor, while the presumption that this inequality is immutable precludes the sexual self-determination of the minor.188 In his study of narratives of children and adolescents who had sex with adults in Indonesia, Mulya shows us that the power dynamics between adult and child is not absolute. To illustrate: The penalty for adult/minor sex is disproportionately high, and because peaceful relationships between an adult and the minor rarely leave any trace, the minor’s testimony is the main tool for condemning an adult.189 Minors who are aware of this and achieve such a relationship can use their power of reporting to keep an adult under control: paraphrasing Leclerc, Wortley and others, Lahtinen and colleagues tell us that a third of all attempts at underage sex are aborted if the minor says that the incident will be reported. Unless an adult kidnaps the minor (as there are men who kidnap women), the minor can always tell what happened to parents, teachers, doctors, or directly to the police (see my exposition of Lahtinen and colleagues, 2018, in prevalence of harmless sexual contacts before the age of consent). But for that, the minor must learn that society condemns such relationships, because, by default, the minor does not understand the social values that govern culturally normal sexuality.191 That being said, if the minor would want to use their reporting power to subdue an adult, they must first understand that adult/minor sex is an offense. Here’s an example of how lack of information causes vulnerability.
In addition, there are ways to teach the minor how to defend themselves in situations where sexual abuse seems imminent. These are simple techniques that involve saying no, running away, and telling an adult about what happened.192 Thus, sex education enables the minor to resist an unwanted sexual advance, although it also enables them to assess whether an invitation is acceptable, but the uninformed minor is reticent, not sure about what to do, which makes them more vulnerable. We might even say that the minor who is aware of the illegality of this relationship is even capable of blackmail. Perhaps this is why, in relationships established between an adult and the minor, it is often minors who sets the boundaries to contain the non-minor.195 the minor must be informed of the means of self-defense in concrete situations and the means of guaranteeing his or her rights. This same reasoning applies to the once oppressed woman, who now enjoys various legal protections.
In non-sexual matters, informed consent can be obtained from a person through five steps described by Lavin: explanation, risk elucidation, benefit elucidation, explanation and elucidation of the risks and benefits of alternatives and an open space for asking questions.196 Lavin applies this process to medical treatments that require informed consent. This may help to explain why a twelve-year-old in some places may consent to hormone treatment in order to live as a person of the opposite sex, at least on a social and, as best as possible, physical level. Those five steps are followed before hormone therapy, so that the adolescent can choose if he want to take the risk or not and go with the treatment (of course, with parent approval as well). However, some boys who have undergone such treatment regret it, so there is a great risk implicit in this type of treatment: a fourteen-year-old boy who had hormone therapy at twelve to live as a girl regretted and had to surgically remove the excess of breast tissue that was developed. As we will see in the prevalence of harmless sexual contact before the age of consent, precocious sexual contacts can be less risky than hormonal treatment, which can lead to negative consequences that are very difficult to reverse. Moreover, not every libidinous act is equally risky, as is the penetration, raising the question of what are the dreaded consequences seen by society when it comes to superficial contact between minors.198
So why is the consent of the minor invalid specifically for sex? Why can’t the minor consent like an adult? Because minors, like women in the past, often fulfill both conditions for invalid consent: they are not sufficiently informed and are in a position of disadvantage to the rest of society. And why is this important? Why is informed consent necessary for sex? Because of the risk: informed consent is required when there are serious risks implicit in an act.199
So when someone says “children can not consent”, what is being said in functionalist language is “children and adolescents are not sufficiently informed to give valid consent to sexual relationships that are intrinsically unequal” and “this is important because sex is dangerous”.200 The reasoning then concludes that the minor, who is legally unable to consent, necessarily dissents. Having sex is not like riding a bike. Since sex is risky (compare with prevalence of harmless sexual contacts before the age of consent), the possibility of harm must be minimized and this is done by this double safety net, namely sufficient information and power equality. You can ignore one or both of these safety nets after a certain age. Perhaps this is because it is assumed that after a certain age the risk of damage is lower. The idea here is to prevent the weaker party, that is, the child or adolescent under fourteen, from being manipulated or forced to perform lewd acts with a stronger and smarter person who is also probably responsible for the minor.204
The argument, however, does not work for relationships between two minors. This is because, if both individuals are minor, the power disparity is small or even nonexistent. This explains why some states in the United States have “Romeo and Juliet” laws, according to which the age of consent law (which ranges from sixteen to eighteen in the United States) can be relaxed if both parties are adolescents (or if one of the participants is a teenager and the other is an adult up to nineteen) and if the age disparity between the parties is insignificant, which does not mean that the act will not be punished, but that it would be permissible to use the age of the parties involved as favorable evidence by the defendant.206
The argument also does not work for the sexually active minors. the minor who has done a lewd act with another minor gains experience in dealing with that act. Therefore, to perform the same act with an adult does not involve ignorance, although it involves power disparity, but power disparity alone, for reasons seen above, cannot invalidate one’s consent. This helps to explain why some judges, when acquitting defendants accused of sex with person under the age of consent without actual violence, use the juvenile’s previous experience as evidence that consent is valid. If anyone claims that the minor can be forced by the older party, let us remember that this is less valid for male adolescents.208
Therefore, it is not possible to say that the consent given by the minor is always invalid, from a philosophical point of view. There are factors around the act that need to be taken into consideration. More than that, denying the consent of the minor before evaluating the whole case is an attack to the minor’s sexual self-determination. That is why there are judges who advocate the relative enforcement of the child sexual abuse law: it is not rape if there has been consent and such consent is validated.209 There are gaps in our sexual morals that, if exploited, allow these relationships, provided that minors are not coerced into them. It would be interesting if the judge would evaluate these contacts on a case by case basis.211 That would require the relative application of the law, which is not legally impossible.212
Moreover, an objection raised against the doctrine of informed consent itself is that we only speak of the consent of the minor in sexual matters, only to say that the minor cannot consent, when we do not ask their consent, for example, to go to school church: a small child probably does not understand the importance of religion and probably would not have the ability to understand the divine, but also has no strength to resist the parents who compel the child to attend to church. So the child does something that isn’t understood because the child was ordered to do that by someone stronger, so without consent (without enough information and without power equality).214 Minors are forced into many things. One might argue that education and religion are not intrinsically harmful, but neither is sexuality (as we shall see in prevalence of harmless sexual contact before the age of consent). Thus, applying the doctrine of informed consent only to certain behaviors, such as sexual behavior, is opportunistic. What is said is that the minor has the right to say no, but without the right to say yes, such a right becomes a duty. A duty is not a freedom, and claiming otherwise is to deceive the listener.
Another objection is that while we say that children and adolescents are incapable of informed consent, they are denied access to the means to give such consent to relationships they desire. By analogy with physical abuse and emotional abuse, which exist alongside physical neglect and emotional neglect, sexual abuse can coexist with sexual neglect, which would be the denial of information and experience. If child sexuality is intrinsic to the minor, is part of the minor’s nature, each restriction should be carefully checked before it is approved and this does not occur with the age of consent law. It is a simple constraint that, because it is simple, greatly reduces the ability of the minor to obtain information and to experiment. If the problem is lack of information, we should give sex education in schools. If the problem is power disparity, minors should be informed of their rights, giving them a means of self-defense. These solutions are not simple, but, if properly executed, allow for more freedom and fewer restrictions without sacrificing safety.
Yet another criticism that can be made is that the absence of “true” consent is not an indication that there was coercion: violence cannot be presumed, and violence is the essence of rape, just because the minor is not fourteen years old, because there is a difference between lack of informed consent and coercion, which is refusal followed by violence. Coercion requires more than lack of consent: there needs to be no choice, either because of physical strength (threat), mental manipulation or social neglect (for example, in the case of the father who denies food to the child for not doing him sexual favors). Thus, the minor who consents without the legal capacity to consent does not signal, by his act, that any violence has occurred, so the Brazilian law, by automatically presuming that violence has occured, is distancing itself from reality. Another criticism that could be made is that consent, insofar as it is understood as rational acceptance of a proposal, is given in response to something offered. Therefore, if a thirteen-year-old boy offers something sexual to a fifteen-year-old girl, she is the one who must consent, not the boy. Provided that only what has been agreed upon is done, consent is valid because the consenting party was capable of informed consent and did only what was offered.219
Finally, a lower degree of risk facilitates the ability to consent: the less risk there is in a situation, the easier it is to make a choice. Therefore, consent may be situationally valid if there was no risk in a given situation or if the risks were small enough to be understandable and predictable to the minor. This may also apply to other people who are considered vulnerable, such as adults with reduced mental abilities, if they are able to understand the risks and the nature of what they are doing. If a risk is small enough to be understood, the need for informed consent is lower.220
Our society teaches that children and adolescents must be submissive while denying them information, so that our society manufactures children who are both ignorant and vulnerable. What’s more, keeping minors ignorant about sexual matters makes them more vulnerable, so they need more protection, which in turn make them even more vulnerable. Thus, the presumed vulnerability has a fabricated aspect: we educate our children not to disobey adults, and the child who learns such a value becomes vulnerable to adults, for example. If we gave minor the means of self-defense, we would be doing the opposite, empowering the child rather than making the child vulnerable.224
Such vulnerability requires a separation between the adult world and the child world, so that the subject crossing from one world to another is viewed with suspicion. This has the potential to drive children away from unknown adults who could even provide help in case of emergency. For example, a certain man saw a baby crawling alone in the open, but, fearing being seen as a pervert, he did not grab the baby to send him back to the nursery nearby. The baby fell into a lake and drowned to death. On the other hand, children learn to see any adult with suspicion, a suspicion that can extend to parents and teachers: because she understood that she shouldn’t talk to strangers, one girl spent weeks without talking to her new teacher, while another girl arrives at home and suddenly tells her father that she doesn’t want to be touched in the vagina by him, even if the father would never do that nor had ever thought about doing so. Seeing adults with suspicion is a behavior that is learned in school.226
Thus children learn not to trust any adult and adults get the message that it’s never acceptable to approach a child. This is especially serious for men, who are setting aside opportunities to teach young children in schools because they are under suspicion. The risk to the child is always supposed to come from the man, which is not true: if any lewd act involving children under fourteen is “rape” according to the Brazilian law, women and girls can also be rapists, especially when the child is a boy. A boy’s mother said that her son was very uncomfortable when he was pinned to the ground by two girls who liked him and tried to steal kisses from him. If it were two boys pinning a girl, the case could have made it to the news. Since it was two girls pinning a boy, not even teachers intervened.229
There is vigilance placed on the child and on the adults who come close to these increasingly vulnerable children, including parents. This vigilance is nominally done in the name of protection, but it can be a veiled attempt to maintain the power relations established between adult and child. For our society, the child needs to be weak and dependent, ignorance is essential to this. Presumed asexuality, the so-called “innocence”, is a kind of ignorance. It is a “good” type ignorance that keeps the child “pure,” vulnerable and dependent. But, as we saw in the previous paragraph, this vigilance that sets sharp boundaries between adult and child may operate against the best interests of the minor. Robinson notes that our attempts to protect the child are often counterproductive. How come? Consider this example: if minors learn that they cannot talk about sex with adults, they will hide their experiences from adults. This can even make it difficult to detect when a child is being abused or when a teenager is having a voluntary but risky relationship. Aren’t we mistaking the protection of children and the protection of childhood? It is different to defend concrete children and to defend the static idea we make of them, which, as we saw in the introduction, is outdated.
Note that lack of information causes more vulnerability and vice versa. If we did to children and adolescents what we did to women, that is, if we empowered them, the opposite would happen: more information would result in less vulnerability. After all, it cannot be denied that women are weaker in terms of physical strength, at least on average, but they no longer are at the mercy of men. And why aren’t they? Because they have rights, they are aware of their rights and may enforce them. Child liberation is already implicit in the Brazilian Child and Adolescent Statute, we just have to make minors aware of their rights and how to enforce them.
One might argue that it makes no sense to inform minors because their brains are not fully developed to process this information constructively. The proponents of this argument rely on the fact that the brain is only fully developed at age twenty-three. But this implies that the age of consent should be increased to twenty-three, so that relationships between a twenty-two year old and a twenty-five year old would be considered abusive, because the oldest is taking advantage of the younger party’s sexual incompetence, which would be the consequence of an immature brain. 234
This argument ignores the fact that even if the brain reaches full maturity at twenty-three, it does not guarantee that the brain does not decline with old age. Now decline is the opposite of maturity. So if brain maturity were a criterion for validating consent, a maximum age of consent would have to be stipulated, from which consent would also be invalid. However, this argument also ignores one’s neurological plasticity, that is, one’s ability to develop one’s brain through practice. It is also for this reason that brain exercises maintain brain skills in the elderly. Developing the brain by practice requires experience.
Also, if you have to be twenty-three to be sexually initiated, you will be, at twenty-two, more sexually incompetent than the sixteen-year-old who is sexually active. Thus, reaching twenty-five, for example, with no experience is like receiving a car without having a driver’s license. The value of learning from experience is highlighted by classical theories, such as those of Piaget and Vygostky. For example, a four-year-old who has never seen a row of stairs will climb it awkwardly, while a three-year-old who is already used to stairs may even climb it faster. Thus, brain development is not the only measure of one’s mental maturity: the experience gained through interaction with one’s environment also translates into maturity. And our environment abounds in information that refines the decision making of minors, although we try, in the name of asexuality, to censor that information.236
In addition, in late childhood and early adolescence, the brain begins to change more slowly, since it already has almost adult cognitive abilities. So even though your brain is not fully developed, the cognitive ability, that is, the ability to learn, is almost comparable to that of the adult when the teenager is thirteen. This echoes Piaget’s research that the child’s cognitive development enters the final stage (emphasis on “enters”, which is not the same as “completes”), the formal operative, around the age of eleven.
Moreover, in late childhood and early adolescence, the normal normal brain maturation allows the child or adolescent to understand the world in a more complex way, as observed by the refinement of his social skills. If this is the case, it is possible to inform the adolescent about sex and reduce the age of consent, as he or she can learn about sex. After all, because it is primarily based on sensation, sexuality is not difficult to understand. Why don’t our teenagers behave like adults then? For the same reason that they will not behave like adults at twenty-three: we do not teach them to and deprive them of the means of learning adult skills.
In addition, according to Robinson, four- and five-year-old children are able to piece together the information they have about sexuality to create a complete picture through a critical process. Now why is the child’s interpretation of sexuality so distorted? Because sexual information is often wrong or missing. Even if the child has sources of information, the fact that the child has to interpret the information alone slows this maturation. The lack of correct information is what makes the child believe and nurture wrong ideas and myths about sex, sexuality, pregnancy and various other issues. Thus, minors have a distorted view of sexuality because there is no one to guide them through all the information they consume from a wide range of sources. It is not that the child does not want this information or cannot understand. The problem is that there is no one to guide the child, answer questions and give accurate information. Without this guidance, minors will have to interpret and organize all the information themselves. They will eventually succeed, but very slowly, which can be dangerous.
Other critics prefer to defend the age of consent based on the sexual maturity of the body rather than the sexual maturity of the mind. It is supposed that the minor does not have a body ready for sexual expression. This argument makes perfect sense if we mean by sexual expression the more adult acts such as the penetration, here defined as phallic penetration through the mouth, anus or vagina. But if we admit that sexuality (ability to feel, desire and seek sexual pleasure, see introduction) is intrinsic to the minor, it is therefore natural to him even if he is physically immature. And if we admit that there are libidinous acts that are not penetrative, and if we admit that these acts can be viewed as a game, then we admit that the lack of secondary sexual characteristics is irrelevant: the minor is not performing non-penetrative libidinous acts to reproduce (nor could he), but because he likes it, assuming the act is consensual. If you are doing lewd acts because you like it, physical maturity is of little importance.242
Another situation in which such a configuration is irrelevant is the initiation rites between isolated societies, in which the precocious relationship represents the entrance into adulthood. In this case, the relationship serves neither the reproductive purpose nor the sensual purpose, and such faculties are therefore unnecessary. This is a social or even religious ritual that all boys in these cultures go through because they want to. Given the ritualistic aspect of this initiation and the fact that boys go through such a ritual to gain the right to have sex with women, such relationships cannot be identified with our modern and Western concepts of “homosexuality” or “pedophilia.”245
Even if one wants to use the physical maturity argument, it is complicated by the fact that puberty is not reduced to visible processes, with most changes occurring internally. It is also complicated by the fact that puberty does not end when such visible signs set in, and may proceed beyond the age of fourteen.246 To use the argument of physical maturity will lead us to admit that the age of consent should be higher than fourteen, if we identify physical maturity with the end of the pubertal process, exacerbating the problems presented in the introduction.
Moreover, the minor himself who does a lewd act on another does not always see himself as a being capable of reproduction and he often really is not.247 This is the case of two children playing doctor. This is also the case with adult homosexuality: the fact that the body “was not made” for same-sex penetration does not invalidate other lewd acts for which the body is ready or for which the body is indifferent. The sex life of the minor begins before puberty.248 If so, child sexuality is indifferent to physical maturity or reproduction, for the presence of desire or curiosity in a prepubescent child attests to this. Other evidence against this argument is that Eastern eunuchs, who were castrated before age seven, still develop heterosexual feelings and even passion. This shows that the development of sexual desire is not totally dependent on physical maturation, since castration, the earlier it occurs, the more it hinders or even suppresses the appearance of secondary sexual characteristics, which separate the adult from the prepubescent child.249
However, adult homosexuality has the differential that adults have more control over their bodies and that, from a clinical point of view, their freedom is worth more than their physical well-being and this is not the case with minors.250 Thus, acts that risk the minor’s well-being could not be admitted, and this is the case of penetration. But this is not the case with many other lewd acts that minors do to one another and that are harmless, such as kisses, caresses and games. Therefore immaturity is not a valid argument unless one wants to maintain an age of consent exclusively for the penetration, which makes the argument perfectly plausible.
An effective protection would be the gradual exposure of the minor to sexuality without leaving him abandoned to himself. If he sees sexuality as a threat, he will grow sexually incapable. In addition to protecting the minor, we must also teach him to defend himself, as was done with women.251 This is true not only in sexual matters: excessive protection prevents maturation. We are keeping our minors as children by emptying their ability to take responsibility, forgetting that they will one day become adults.252 They will be adults without the experience to act like adults. They will be adults who will still depend on their parents.
Even if consent is valid, proponents of the age of consent state that these relationships are always negative and traumatic. This monolithic view is demonstrably false. The idea that relationships prior to the age of consent are intrinsically harmful has no empirical foundation.253 Remember that the age of consent varies around the globe. It is twelve in the Philippines, fourteen in Brazil, sixteen in the United Kingdom. If relationships before the age of consent were always harmful, the age of consent should vary less. It is like saying that building sexual relationships at fourteen is healthy in Brazil, but harmful in the UK, whereas building sexual relationships at twelve would be healthy in the Philippines. Japan has a basic the age of consent of thirteen, which may be higher depending on the prefecture. However, although the laws mention heterosexual contact, Japanese laws seem to not mention whether there is an age of consent for homosexual acts as well.254
There is no agreement even among experts as to what the ideal age of consent would be.255 In the academic field, the proponents of the age of consent have said that it could be anywhere from 12 to 18. Perhaps because of this, UNICEF says that the age of consent should be set within each country.256 There also are countries, notably in the Middle East, where there is no age of consent with the condition required for legal relationships being marriage. This type of law also does not exist in isolated indigenous tribes or preindustrial societies (presumably because the demand for longer periods of education is lower).257 Thus, different cultural contexts (time and space) have different degrees of tolerance to child sexuality. By saying that all sexual contacts before the age of consent are always violent, you are conditioning the experience of other countries to that of your country, exposing yourself to the error: the precocious Filipino or Japanese will be living proof that your reasoning is wrong.
The emphasis on the problem of harm only began to grow in the last three decades of the twentieth century, not for empirical reasons. Nowadays, according to the definition of child sexual abuse, any sexual contact between adult and child is, by definition, abuse.258 The problem is the “by definition” part, because if you classify voluntary and pleasurable experiences as abuse, the definition then includes “positive abuses,” which, being positive, are still abuse.259 This makes the definition of child sexual abuse empirically indisputable therefore not falsifiable and therefore not scientific. The motivations for emphasizing the problem of harm are, in fact, political, stemming mainly from feminism.260 Before the 1980s, there was almost a consensus that precocious sexual contact was not always a traumatic occurrence.261 But feminism, when evaluating relationships between father and daughter as abusive according to the incest model, eventually expanded this model to all relationships between man and girl in particular and subsequently between adults and minors in general.
If rape is a manifestation of power, then incest, which takes advantage of the power dynamics between father and daughter, must be a type of rape. Thus, the rape model, particularly the incestuous rape model created in feminism, according to which father/daughter relationships are generally violent (because they are manifestations of power) and harmful, has become the lens by which we evaluate all relationships between adult and minor, although such a model was not designed for such application. Since this model assumes intrinsic harm, the subjective interpretation of the act by the alleged victim is not taken into account: the child or adolescent who claims the experience was positive must be feeling pressured by the offender or is lying.262 the minor would only speak the truth if they were condemning the relationship.263 The elements of sexual information and power disparity discussed in the informed consent doctrine also open the possibility of the same model (intrinsic harm) being also applied to relationships between two minors, which are the focus of this text.
Before the problem of child sexual abuse taking on hysterical proportions, it was believed that relationships engaged before the age of consent, even between non-minor and minor, were not intrinsically harmful, much of the damage being caused by the social reaction to the act and the judiciary machine.264 This is because, for the citizen of that time, as well as for some critics of nowadays, there are precocious sexual contacts in which there is no force, coercion or threats, so that a relationship would only be bad depending on circumstances.265 Nevertheless, the discourse promoted by the child abuse paradigm emphasizes the trauma that could result from this type of relationship, although such trauma is statistically rare in non-clinical populations.266 This is reflected in the news: notice how relationships between adults, which are rarely harmful, are very often depicted as positive, while relationships between minors, which are also rarely harmful, are very often depicted as negative.267
Despite this panic, the intrinsic harm thesis is not falsifiable, which makes its scientific validity questionable. For example, a Dutch-led study of a sample of people who, as minors, had sexual contacts with non-minors, found that most subjects “failed” to realize that the experience had been traumatic.268 The key word here is “failed”: if the person says that their precocious sexual experiences were not harmful, they have a problem, not the researcher, not the study, not the method, nor the assumptions. It is assumed that the experience is always traumatic, so when the victim says that it was not traumatic, the victim is wrong. This is unfair because we override the interpretation of the minor with our own interpretation, even though we have not experienced what the minor has experienced. Such practice disconnects the therapist from his patient, because some people seek help in dealing with the consequences of an abuse they have experienced, but find doctors unwilling to take their experience seriously, leading to unproductive treatment.269
The thesis of intrinsic harm is very influential. Notice how policies that concern the sexual health of the minor always take into account only the problematic aspects of this sexuality. That allows conservative states to find excuses for preventing teenagers from building sexual relationships. That’s not really a liberal interest in the minor’s welfare, but a conservative interest in the minor’s sexual purity, otherwise, the state would not only emphasize the negative side of this phenomenon, but give child sexuality an impartial appraisal instead. This blinds the legislator to the implicit nuances in this phenomenon, as well as the influence of sexual repression on the child’s development.270 When talking about sexuality and children or even sexuality and adolescents, one does not talk about pleasure, adventure, satisfaction, but only about abuse, illness and teenage pregnancy. This increases the relevance of this section of this text.
Without appealing to distant cultures or distant times, there are quantitative studies done in the western population on the prevalence of harmless sexual contact before the age of consent. Before exposing this data, it is necessary to consider some elements: sampled population, number of subjects, definitions and third variables. Many studies done before the 21st century use few subjects from the clinical or forensic population, but this results in non-generalizable studies and data that provide a distorted view of a phenomenon.271 There are studies that use less than ten subjects.272 For example, suppose I study the lethal potential of influenza. I go to the hospitals and watch ten patients. All of them die. With that, I conclude that flu is lethal 100% of the time. Is this information correct? No. But where is the mistake? In the generalization of data collected from only ten subjects.273
The other part of the problem is the sampled population.274 Suppose I want to find out the percentage of people traumatized by precocious sexual experiences. I get my subjects from a psychiatric institution for people recovering from sexual abuse. So, I used clinical subjects. Obviously, I will get a percentage close to 100%, because I only studied people who are already being treated for abuse sequelae. I deliberately did not research people with a different narrative.275 In the aforementioned example of influenza, the subjects included in the study may even be from a population of people who more easily die from the flu, such as the elderly. However, even in clinical populations, there is a percentage of subjects who claim they have not been harmed by experience and others who claim that the harm came from the reaction of others to the act (see secondary victimization).276
A real example of opportunistic sampling was the report in the American Psychology Association: almost all subjects in the reviewed studies were white, straight, middle-class girls. There was little information on the “corruption” of other girls, as only psychology studies were reviewed to create the final report and there are few studies in the US population on the “corruption” of black, homosexual or working class girls.277 For the film The Purity Myth, this is due to the fact that the moral panic about child sexuality is centered on the white girl, who happens to also be heterosexual and middle class.278 This panic is especially embarrassing because, according to statistical evidence collected by Kilpatrick, the white girl is more sexually active than the black girl.279 It can be argued that the interest in specifically protecting the white girl is an attempt to position her as “superior” to black, hard-working, “corrupted” girls, since child sexuality is viewed as negative and therefore undesirable for dominant groups, an attitude aggravated by the non-acceptance of the true sexual attitude of the middle class girl.
Thus, the American Psychology Association report had a restricted population and looked only for negative effects, which can be seen as a way to legitimize this battle against “corruption”.280 Another serious problem is that, as we shall soon see, the reaction of boys to precocious sexual contact tends to more neutral and positive. So an easy way to make a study conclude that negative reactions are more prevalent is to exclude boys from the sample or at least to recruit a disproportionate amount of female participants.281
Another problem lies in the definitions.282 “Child sexual abuse”, for example, is the current term used in the scientific community to designate relationships between child or adolescent and adult or between children and adolescents in which the age disparity is five years or more. This is problematic because it predisposes us to view data in a negative way. For example, in the introduction, you saw that it is not necessary for such an act to be forced or even penetrative to be considered “rape” with vulnerable victim. The victim may even find it inappropriate to apply such a term. But when this term appears in the news, this is the idea it invokes, that of forced penetration. You don’t think of two teenagers dating by mutual agreement or a father kissing his daughter’s lips.
This is because the term “rape”, like the term “abuse”, has negative connotation. If these terms invoke the idea of damage, they must be used when verifiable damage occurs. Else, the researcher needs to make it clear that he is using the term “abuse” referring to the violation of social values, not the violation of children. This is problematic even when looking for subjects to participate in a study: Susan Clancy, when looking for people to participate in her study on child sexual abuse, was contacted by Erin, a woman who did not know whether or not she had been sexually abused, a doubt that only disappeared when Clancy explained that, for the purposes of the study, child sexual abuse is sexual contact between adult and prepubescent child child. Only then could Erin continue with the process, as that described well what had happened to her. Her doubt came from the fact that the experience, because it was peaceful, did not seem to have been abusive (although it definitely was not pleasant either). So a study that recruits subjects who have been “sexually abused” will have a huge representation of people with negative experiences, because the person who had peaceful sexual contact in childhood does not feel “abused”, leading the subject to think that the researcher would have no interest in their story. Thus, a skewed definition undermines the generalization of the study because it puts suspicion on the impartiality of the sample. Better to talk about “precocious sexual experience”.
Labeling voluntary, non-penetrative experiences as rape is not only a language distortion and therefore a lie, but is also a means of biasing the interpretation of data by even a specialized reader, making it difficult, perhaps on purpose, to distinguish between what is non-voluntary and what is voluntary. Another example of how definitions can be used to distort language is the case of the Brazilian Landless Movement: assuming that they were considered criminal under the anti-terrorism law, that is, if they were labeled terrorists, this would not change the peaceful nature of the occupation movements. But the association between the Landless Movement and terrorism, even as a legal concept, would give the layman a wrong idea of what happens in the occupied areas. Calling these occupations “terrorism” forms in the mind of the layman an idea that does not correspond to the reality of these occupations. O’Carroll points out that broadening negatively charged terms such as “harassment” also endangers adult relationships. Considering this, the statement made by the World Health Organization that one in four girls and one in six boys have been sexually abused worldwide loses its content entirely. Either this prevalence rate is wrong, or “sexual abuse” is often asymptomatic, calling into question the presumed intrinsic harm. Such a problem can be resolved by reevaluating what we call abuse. If one should not call all of these experiences abuse, it is ridiculous to say that child sexual abuse is a “worldwide epidemic,” as if two out of ten children were deeply traumatized by an act as painful as it could be violent, when trauma, pain and violence may well not have happened unless this is an epidemic of a disease that is often asymptomatic and often unobservable, which is itself doubtful. Because of this effect, there are researchers who are against the indiscriminate application of negatively charged terms, reserving these terms only for cases where their application is due, since the application of this term may distortedly describe a concrete case.291
Lastly, the researcher does not always know if what he is measuring is the damage caused by the relationship itself or by other reasons related or not to the act. For example, a child who manipulates someone’s genitals, such as the old “doctor” game, also gets a belting from his father when the act is discovered. The child then grows maladjusted. However, in a subsequent psychological assessment, the researcher assumes that the negative consequence came from the libidinous act, but not from the father’s correction, although precocious sexual experience probably harms less than being raised in a toxic family. This type of outcome is easily obtainable by suppressing the child’s or adolescent’s judgment of the experience: it is assumed that contact was negative, so contact has its role in shaping trauma.294 Of course this will be reflected in the research, which judges child sexuality by the adult look and not by the look of the minor, who is feeling the experience firsthand. Because medicine and public policy have science as one of their references, the rejection of childhood experience leads to misdiagnosis and harmful procedures, as such diagnoses and procedures may not respond effectively to what the child or adolescent feels, but to that we assume you feel (see secondary victimization). Incidentally, abusive parents end up teaching their children to abuse, so that they can, by normalizing their behavior, repeat abuse with the generation after their generation: the mother who beats her children encourages such children to beat their own children, and that is abuse, but physical abuse rather than sexual abuse. Children and adolescents are not heard about their opinions about sexuality, about their judgment. It is necessary to separate the damage caused by actual experience and the damage caused by social reaction to the act. There are ways of separating, during research, the damage caused by sexual experience and the damage caused by other variables. Because of this, some researchers, when dealing with subjects who have mental problems and a history of sexual contact at a vulnerable age, do not rush to form a causal relationship between the two.298
With these warnings in mind, I present below results from studies and syntheses made without subjects from the clinical population. You will see how these studies, conducted outside the clinical population, give us an inverse picture of that we are used to.299
The study Childhood sexual abuse and the sociocultural context of sexual risk among adult Latin gay and bisexual men (Arreola et al., 2009) provides data from 912 US adults, of whom, before age sixteen, 34.8% had voluntary sexual experiences with people at least five years older, 49.4% had no such experiences and 15.8% had forced sexual experiences with people at least five years older. The study saw no difference in levels of psychological adjustment between individuals who had voluntary sexual experiences with an older partner in childhood or adolescence and those who did not, but the level of psychological adjustment in the group who had forced sexual experiences was altered: they were more likely to have risky sexual experiences (such as seeking sex to escape bad feelings and usage of alcohol or drugs during sexual practices) in adulthood and to develop psychological imbalance (here defined as anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendency). The study also concludes that these negative effects may appear in adults who suffered discrimination for being gay or having effeminate tendencies in childhood or adolescence.
The study Childhood sexual experiences and adult health sequelae among gay and bisexual men: defining childhood sexual abuse (Arreola and colleagues, 2008) provides data from 2881 telephone interviews conducted between November 15, 1996, and March 1, 1998 (United States). The interviews were all with adults. The study concludes that 27% of respondents had no sexual relationships before age 18, 52% had voluntary relationships before age 18 and 21% had forced relationships before age 18. Again, those who had forced relationships were more likely to develop depression and suicidal ideation, but those who had only voluntary relationships did not differ in these meters from those who had no relationship at all. However, the welfare level of those who had voluntary relationships was slightly higher than the welfare level of those who maintained their virginity until age eighteen.300 This refutes the claim that precocious sexual contacts contact, even when considered positive (a recurring feature in precocious sexual relationships involving boys), is never beneficial. Since the most precocious participant was fourteen years old when his experience took place, these data do not serve to challenge the age of consent in Brazil, but they certainly point out that there is no need to increase it to sixteen, for example. Finally, the study concludes that while early experiences among girls are often forced, the same is not true for boys, so the application of the term “abuse” to early male relationships cannot be done without careful consideration. To be fair, however, levels of HIV transmission were higher among those who had precocious sexual contacts, but this may be due to the fact that relationships at fourteen are illegal in the United States, so the a precocious adolescent could not, for example, purchase condoms without pretty much reporting himself.303
Dolezal et al. (2014) interviewed 500 adult men who had oral, genital, anal, or manual sexual contact before age 13 in Argentina. Of those 500, 18% had sexual contact before age thirteen with a person at least four years older. Two-thirds of men who reported sexual experiences before the age of thirteen with an older partner suggested that the older partner was female. Of these, only 4% considered the experience negative or forced, validating anecdotal evidence. One participant even said that he had sex “a thousand times” with his older partner, indicating sexually active childhood. However, among those who had their precocious sexual experience with older men, 44% considered the experience to be negative or forced. The study suggested that sexual contacts between boys and women or boys and older girls are usually voluntary.306
Most participants did not view their childhood experiences as negative. The researchers used the term “abuse” only for negative or forced experiences, preferring the term “experience” for neutral or positive contacts that were considered voluntary.308 The study also cited statistical research that suggests that homosexual boys experience sexual abuse (again, defined as a negative or forced experience) more often than heterosexual boys, in a proportion of 27% to 1%.309 In addition, the study suggested that those who considered the experience to be abusive had less penetrative vaginal or anal sex, but were physically or emotionally harmed or threatened. This makes force and coercion the two more reliable predictors of a negative judgment by the minor, rather than penetration. Finally, the study states that researchers should treat voluntary experiences as being different in nature from forced experiences, as they have different effects and different characteristics, and it is not justifiable that both types of experience receive equal treatment by researchers.312
Lahtinen et al. (2018) obtained data from 11,364 children aged 10 to 17, enrolled in schools in Finland, to find out if these children and adolescents had ever, at some point in their lives, had sexual contacts with adult people at least five years older.313 2.4% admitted to having experienced such contact. Of these 2.4%, only 26% reported the experience to an adult and only 12% reported it to the authorities, but 48% talked about the contact with friends. The study asked why the incident was not reported and 41% of those who did not report the incident claimed it was not serious enough to warrant intervention. If that’s so, then the child who keeps secret about his or her experience isn’t necessarily being forced to keep secret.
The study found that among children who had sexual experiences with partners at least five years older, 45% had only one contact, 20% had between two and ten contacts, and 13% had more than ten sexual contacts. The average age for sexual contact was fourteen years for the youngest and twenty-three years for the oldest party. Most of the experiences (64%) were between adults and minors, while the rest would have been between two minors, provided the age disparity was five years or more. Of children who had sexual experiences with an older partner, only 16% considered the experience to be abusive. 51% considered the experience to be certainly harmless (not abusive), while 33% were unsure. Most experiences included non-penetrative contact. 71% of boys rated the experience as positive, but only 26% of girls claimed the same. 46% of girls rated the experience as negative, but only 9% of boys rated their experience as negative. Remaining percentages indicate neutral experiences or that the child was unsure about how to rate the contact. Force, blackmail and intimidation were, however, employed 20% of the time.315 20% is still quite high, but, for sake of impartiality, I should show this percentage, as it’s relevant to this matter.
14% of the experiences were with a friend, 35% with a stranger, 16% with an acquaintance, 6% with a family member and 8% with someone the child considered a romantic partner. Outside the sexual sphere, the study also found that 46% of these children who had such experiences suffered emotional abuse from their mother and 38% from their father. Physical abuse perpetrated by the mother amounted to 20%, but only 16% of physical abuse cases were perpetrated by the father. 80% of children and adolescents who had such experiences told someone about them (48% with friend, 20% with mother, 12% with father, 5% with teacher, 7% with police, 2% with school nurse, 3% with the school counselor, 4% with someone from social workers, 11% with siblings, 6% with someone not specified). This suggests that children can share if they wish and that campaigns to report abuse are working and should continue. However, it also shows that reporting to the authorities can be quite rare. It is also necessary to pay attention to parents who, knowing their child’s relationship and judging it beneficial, pretend not to know what is going on in order to excuse themselves for not intervening.319
As we can see, most did not tell the experience to authorities. The reasons for this were not finding the incident serious enough (41%), fear (14%), skepticism about adults’ desire to hear the experience (14%), not finding that reporting would be beneficial (14%, see secondary victimization) and shame (10%).320 8% did not report for other reasons.321
Rind & Welter (2013) examined data obtained by Alfred Kinsey. They focused on the first sexual experience of the studied subjects. The study concluded that among the subjects studied, minors who had sexual contacts with adults did not suffer more from these relationships than minors who had sexual contacts with other minors, or adults who had sexual contacts with adults only. The study also suggested that boys tended to enjoy the experience more than girls. In fact, boys (mean age of minors studied was thirteen years old) who had sexual contacts with adult women (average age of adults was twenty-four years old) claimed to have enjoyed the experience much more often than adults who only had sexual contacts with adults of the same age.
Subjects who had negative reactions, in general, in the minor/adult group represented 15% of this group, compared to 12% of the group that related only after adulthood. In the case of girls, the subjects in the minor/adult group (on average, the girl was thirteen years old and the man was twenty-six years old) who claimed very positive results was 17%, compared to 18% in the group of girls who only related after adulthood. The percentage of subjects who suggested that the contact was negative was 18% in the group of girls who had sex with adults and 16% in the group of women who had sex only after adulthood. In the sample studied, the number of minors who related to minors was 1,560, the number of minors who had sexual contacts with adults was 834, and the number of adults who had sexual contacts with adults was 5,444. Among minors who had their first relationship with adults, counting only those who did after puberty, the average age was fifteen for the boy and twenty-four for the woman. Although this also does not serve to question the Brazilian age of consent, it can still be used as an argument against raising it to sixteen. In the case of girls, the average age was fifteen for the girl and twenty-six for the male (also counting only those who completed puberty). Thus, the age disparity is greater in relationships between men and girls than between women and boys, at least in the sample studied.
Subjects who, in adolescence, had sexual contacts with adult women, generally reported a median degree of satisfaction with this relationship more often than the group of men who only lost their virginity after adulthood and also more often than the group of men who lost virginity when they were minors, but with another minor. For girls, the group that reported the highest median satisfaction was the group that only lost their virginity after adulthood, but the frequency of median satisfaction was only slightly higher than in the other two groups. The study reveals that loss of virginity is a generally better experience for the boy than for the girl in all three scenarios (minor to minor, minor to adult, and adult to adult). The frequency of respondents that claimed that the experience was excellent was 60% in the group of boys who had sexual contacts with girls of the same age, higher than in the other two groups of boys (minor with adult and adult with adult). In the groups of girls, only 18% said that the level of satisfaction with their first relationship was high in the group of those who lost their virginity in adulthood. This number is 13% among those who lost their virginity at an adult age and 12% in the group of girls who lost their virginity with another minor.
Now counting minors under fourteen or younger (average age 13 for boys and 24 for women), the number boys who had sexual contacts with adults and said that the relationship was very positive is 63%. Still considering only boys aged fourteen and under, 44% of the minor/minor group said they liked the first relationship very much. In the case of girls under fourteen (mean age for the girl was thirteen and average age for man was twenty-six), the number of subjects aged fourteen or younger who liked losing their virginity to adults was 17%, compared to 18% in the group of girls who lost their virginity to boys of the same age. The study concludes that the intrinsic harm thesis is wrong, even considering the fact that the data is old, since the damage, if really intrinsic, should manifest itself in any historical or geographical context. The study also contradicts the thesis that relationships before the age of fourteen are never pleasurable.
Finally, the study concludes that, in general, boys in the age of fifteen have a positive response rate almost equal to the positive response rate of adults who only related to adults, and that the level of pleasure of younger boys was even higher: 63% of boys between the ages of ten and fourteen who had sexual contacts with adult women said they enjoyed the experience very much, compared to 44% of adult men who had sexual contacts with adult women. Thus, at least in the sample studied, the rates of enjoyment and disgust on the part of children were similar to the same rates found in adult pairs, at least with regard to the boys. In the case of small girls, the pleasure rates in girl/man relationships were very similar to the equally low pleasure rates in girl/boy relationships. There was no significant difference between girls and women in relation to pleasure: positive responses were generally low for both girls and women (remembering that the study considers only the first relationship, not subsequent ones).
The study Gay and bisexual adolescent boys’ sexual experiences with men (Rind, 2001) examined data from 129 subjects outside the clinical population, of which 26 had sex between the ages of twelve and seventeen, provided the adult was at least five years older. The idea was to see how boys in the non-clinical population react to relationships with adult men, since a positive-biased pattern is observed in relationships between boys and women. The study found no difference between the subjects in this small sample and the subjects in the control group in terms of self-esteem, for example. Subjects’ reactions to their relationships were coded on a scale from 1 (very negative experience) to 5 (very positive experience). The experiences were also rated at consent levels ranging from 1 (forced) to 5 (encouraging).
Most subjects judged the experience to be positive and voluntary, with younger subjects reacting as well as older subjects. The study shows that informed consent has less impact on relationship quality than simple consent (defined here as mere willingness to participate). In addition, the author cites past studies conducted by his team that confirm that the child abuse paradigm is less valid for the boy, because the boy who voluntarily ventures into sexuality has a much greater chance of deriving positive or neutral reactions from these adventures, while the opposite is true for girls, even in the presence of simple consent.
Among the subjects studied, the average age for sexual contact was fifteen years, with the oldest being seventeen and the youngest being twelve. The adult was, on average, twenty-eight years old, with the youngest being twenty and the oldest being forty-six. 42% of the experiences occurred among subjects previously strangers to each other, 35% among acquaintances, 23% among friends or family members. 68% repeated the experience, 42% of the relationships lasted less than a month and 25% of the relationships lasted more than a year. 21% of the experiments involved non-penetrative contact. 96% of the subjects already identified as homosexual or bisexual before the occurrence. Subjects reached puberty on average at age eleven.
The average reaction was positive, with the worst reaction being very negative and the best being very positive. The percentages were 38.5% (very positive), 38.5% (positive), 7.7% (neutral), 3.8% (negative) and 11.5% (very negative). 23.1% encouraged the adult to participate, 69.2% were mutually consenting and 7.7% received and accepted the adult’s proposal. At least in the small sample studied, none of the boys was forced or threatened to give their consent. Contrary to expectations, young age did not impact the boys’ judgment of the experience, but the age disparity changed the interest: the higher the age disparity, the more the boy was interested. Positive reactions were more common among subjects in long-term relationships and lower among subjects who related to strangers. The study concludes that the only similarity between these cases narrated as positive and incestuous abuse is the age disparity between the participants. Therefore, the age gap does not guarantee that the experience will be forced or negative. The use of child sexual abuse as a model to which all relationships before the age of consent must abide to is therefore distortion of the facts. However, the fact that the study has a very limited number of subjects impairs its generalization, as we saw earlier.
The study “I’m in love with an older man”: reasons for inter-generational sexual relationships among young women in South Africa (Wet et al., 2018) examined 620 girls and women aged fifteen to twenty-four. These women and girls were or have been in a relationship with men older than them (the partner was always at least six years older, but the age disparity could be even greater than ten years). The study was interested in knowing why South African girls and women sought relationships with older adult men. Most state that age is not an important factor to consider when looking for a partner. Although financial support is one of the reasons for seeking such relationships, this is not the most frequently cited reason, behind, for example, the feeling of security provided by the relationship.325
Teens seek relationships with older men for financial reasons less often than adult women, unless such teenagers are students or apprentices. Seeking older men for financial reasons is more common among women in their twenties, who are divorced or are widows. Although these data do not serve to question the Brazilian age of consent, they show that, at least in the sample studied, adolescents who desire adult men do not necessarily do so out of material need and that such adolescents may not see age disparity as something important. Relationships for financial support are more common among adults, not among adolescents.
However, one of the reasons less cited by girls and women seeking such men was sexual loyalty. This means that cheating is more common in inter-generational relationships. If this is true and the practice of having multiple partners is more common in relationships with older men, there is a critical youth demand for means to have safe sex and sex education, as the practice of maintaining multiple partners is associated with the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. This is especially pertinent because one of the reasons cited, though still the second least cited, was sexual satisfaction. So there are girls and women looking for older adult men mainly because the older man is more sexually experienced than the person of the same age. A relationship in which sex is the main element should not be carried on without protection.
In the book Long-range effects of child and adolescent sexual experiences: myths, mores, and menaces (Kilpatrick, 1992), the author presents her own study of 501 mostly middle-class US women outside the clinical population and outside the forensic population. The study examined the sexual experiences women had from birth to seventeen, whether with adults or other minors. The study also uses wellbeing and adult functioning measurement scales of the subjects. 63% of the subjects were white, 35% black and 2% others. At the time the study was conducted, women were between 18 and 61 years old.331 51% of subjects reported having had at least one sexual experience before the age of fourteen and 83% said they had at least one sexual experience after the age of fourteen. Thus, much of the sample had sexual contacts (which could have been anything from a kiss to penetration) at an age when such an experience would be considered illegal in Brazil. Those who did not have precocious sexual experiences were still studied for comparison purposes (the so-called “control group”).
Most of these lewd acts consisted of lustful kisses and hugs. 37% of subjects said they had kissed and lustfully hugged an adult man, but 37% also reported having exchanged caresses with their partner. 35% saw their partner’s genitals, 23% showed their own genitals to the partner, 15% received caresses on the breasts. 5% report masturbatory engagement with their partner, while 2% report penetration. These data refer only to experiences up to age fourteen. Counting the experiences between fifteen and seventeen, 77% practiced kissing and lascivious hugging with an adult partner, 51% received caresses on the breasts, 33% saw the partner’s genitals, 27% practiced penetration, 23% were masturbated by the partner, 23% showed their genitals to their partner. Note that there are intersections, with the surplus beyond 100% indicating that part of the sample engaged in more than one behavior. 12% experienced an unconsummated attempt at penetration, 10% engaged in oral sex and 2% in anal.333
Counting the experiences before the age of fourteen, 37% of girls state that the contact occurred with men or boys who were not family members, while 13% report that the experience happened to a woman or girl outside the family. Counting experiences between the ages of fifteen and seventeen, the number of women who claim to have had sex with men or other minors outside their family rises to 73%. Still counting experiences between fifteen and seventeen, 6% were with family members. Counting both groups, 42% had a precocious relationship at the age of fourteen or younger with a person outside the family; 24% had a precocious relationship before the age of fourteen with a person within the family; 75% had a relationship between ages fifteen and seventeen with a person outside the family; 12% had a relationship between fifteen and seventeen to a person within the family. 334
Asked who made the advance, that is, who initiated the libidinous act, the subjects said that the partner initiated the contact in the following proportions: counting experiences up to fourteen, this number was 42%; counting experiences between fifteen and seventeen, that number was 71%. When it comes to “mutual” advances, that is, in which both had the same degree of initiative, the proportions were 30% (up to fourteen) and 62% (fifteen to seventeen). Finally, the proportions of women who suggested that, in childhood or adolescence, took the full initiative in the libidinous act were 23% (up to fourteen) and 39% (between fifteen and seventeen). Minority of the sample subjects were mere recipients of the act. Surplus beyond 100% indicates intersections, in which case the person has had more than one experience, with varying degrees of consent.335 The study also specifically inquires about experiences with older partners (at least five years apart). Before the age of fifteen, 17% of white women had relationships with people at least five years older. 5% percent of black women reported. Between fifteen to seventeen, these numbers were 23% and 15%, respectively. In all, 23% of subjects who related before the age of fifteen had relationships with an older partner, compared to 24% of subjects who related between the ages of fifteen and seventeen. Including those who had no experience before age eighteen, the total incidence rate of relationships with older people was 13% (before age fifteen) and 20% (between age fifteen and seventeen).337
Considering only relationships before the age of fifteen, 38% of subjects reported having pleasure during the experience, 37% reported indifference and 25% reported that the experience was unpleasant. The experience is more easily judged as unpleasant if it involves penetration and less easily judged as unpleasant if it is limited to kisses and hugs. Other libidinous acts lie along the spectrum. Considering experiences between fifteen and seventeen years, 62% of the subjects reported feeling pleasure, 20% reported indifference and 18% reported displeasure. Damage was reported by 28% of subjects who related before 15 years of age (10% considered the experience to be abusive) and 21% of those who related between 15 and 17 years old (13% considered the experience to be abusive). Considering only those who had some kind of sexual experience before the age of eighteen, 75% were not harmed by the experience and 85% did not consider what happened as “abuse”. 28% report that sexual experiences before adulthood have had both positive and negative impact on adulthood, 27% report that the effects are primarily positive and 6% report that the effects are primarily negative. The remaining percentage did not answer this question.338
In all, the number of subjects who were voluntary participants in the sexual experience was 67%, with only 33% reporting use of force. The use of force occurred most often in situations of active or passive oral sex. Taking into account only experiences before the age of fifteen, kisses, hugs and exhibitionism on the part of the subject were the acts with the lowest rates of force. In the group of women who had experiences between ages of fifteen to seventeen, the number of voluntary relationships was 1063, compared to 272 forced experiences. These data do not serve to challenge the Brazilian age of consent, but may serve as an argument against its increase. However, although the use of force was relatively infrequent, the use of “subtle pressure” (possibly a partner’s insistence but not threats, which were categorized separately) was reported in 63% of all experiences before the age of fifteen and in 74% of experiences between fifteen and seventeen. Use of physical force occurs in the proportions of 22% and 17%, respectively. Verbal threat occurred in the proportions of 17% and 7%, respectively. Being threatened with a gun occurred in the proportions of 1% and 2%, respectively.339
Finally, women were examined for self-esteem, depression, and satisfaction with their family situation. No significant relationship was found between negative effects in these areas and history of incest or relationship with a person at least five years older in general. Variations in these measures are determined more by combinations of factors than by isolated factors. Thus, it is not a matter of the experience being intrinsically bad: the outcome depends on who the partner was, what the nature of the act was, and how the subject feels about the act.340 The study concludes by stating that most of the experiences were voluntary, pleasurable, but also by noting that most of them did not involve penetration. It is not the lewd act itself that causes the damage, but elements associated with the act such as force, threat, pain, and feelings of guilt or shame, which are not intrinsic to such relationships.341
The study A meta-analytic examination of assumed properties of child sexual abuse using college samples (Rind and colleagues, 1998) appraised data from 15,635 subjects (adults) from the US college population via meta-analysis conducted with 59. These adults had sexual experiences in childhood or adolescence. The study concludes that the percentage of positive sexual experiences among girls is 11%, the percentage of positive sexual experiences among boys is 37%, the percentage of neutral sexual experiences among girls is 18%, the percentage of neutral sexual experiences among boys is 29%. The percentage of negative sexual experiences among girls is 72% and the amount of negative sexual experiences among boys is 33%. In addition, at least in the male population, the study found that there are a number of men who claim that their precocious sexual experiences had a positive impact on their sexual functioning in adulthood.343 Because of the fury that such data caused, other authors attempted to replicate the study while correcting its possible flaws but reaching similar results.344 It was a scandal in the United States, and the US Congress tried to suppress the study.345
The study Parameters of sexual contact of boys with women (Condy and colleagues, 1987) collected data from men to study their reaction to heterosexual inter-generational sexual experiences at the minor age. Most men who report such an experience in childhood or adolescence did not consider it a traumatic event. If the woman had coerced the boy, the chance of the experience leading to trauma was greater, as well as the chance of developing adult sexual functioning problems. Most of the experiences between boy and woman were considered voluntary, with many boys proposing the libidinous act to the woman rather than merely being a receiving party. In order to reach these conclusions, 571 men were examined: 359 university students and 212 people serving time in jail. A total of 797 women were studied: 625 female college students and 172 female prisoners. For men, the researchers asked if they, before they were sixteen, had sex with a girl or woman at least five years older. For women, the researchers asked if they had sex with boys at least five years younger but who also were not sixteen years old yet. Women were also asked if they had, before the age of sixteen, been in a relationship with boys or men at least five years older than themselves. The study surveyed the type of contact experienced and the frequency of repetition.349
The number of college men who had inter-generational relationships with women was 57, of whom 45 repeated the experience and 28 had more than one adult partner. The number of college women who had inter-generational sexual experiences with a younger boy was 3, one of whom repeated the experience. The number of inter-generational relationships with older women among incarcerated men was 97, of which 85 repeated the experience and 69 had more than one partner. The number of incarcerated women who had a relationship with a younger boy was 13, of which 8 repeated the experience and 6 had more than one partner.350 The most precocious male subject was three years old when the experience occurred, but most subjects (102 subjects) had their initiation between ages thirteen and fifteen (27 at thirteen, 37 at fourteen, 38 at age fifteen). The average age for the first relationship was, among men, 13 years.351
The types of libidinous acts were penetration (39 college men, 80 prisoners, 3 college women, 12 prisoners), oral sex (30 college men, 60 male prisoners, 11 male prisoners) and manual stimulation (48 college men, 69 male prisoners, two female university students, 13 females who were serving time in jail). Among the consensual experiences, the number of boys who received a proposal from the woman and accepted was: 38 among university students, 80 among prisoners. The number of women who proposed the act to the boy and the boy accepted was: 3 among university students, 7 among prisoners. The number of boys who made the proposal to the woman and had the request accepted was: 28 among college students, 53 among prisoners. The number of women who received the boy’s proposal and accepted it was: 3 among university students, 11 among prisoners. The number of men who claim to have been forced, when they were minors, by women was 8 among college students and 11 among men serving time in jail. The number of women who claimed to have forced the youngest boy was 2 among women serving time in jail. No woman in the college population claims to have forced a boy or feeling forced by a boy. The number of men who claim to have, in their early experience, forced their older partner was 4 among college students and 3 among men serving time in jail. The number of women who claim to have been forced by the boy was 2, but both were serving time in jail.352
The least frequent type of contact was oral sex. Most libidinous acts occurred between friends or neighbors, but a large number also occur between boy and babysitter. Among college men, 50.88% said the experience was good, compared to 24.56% who said the experience was bad. Among male prisoners, 65.98% said the experience was good, compared to 6.19% who said it was bad. 36.84% of college men say the experience has had a positive effect on adult sexual functioning and 43.30% of male prisoners say the same.353 The chance of a precocious sexual experience with an older partner resulting in negative feelings or negative effects on adult sex life is strongly related to the degree of consent of the relationship. Thus, if the younger party initiates or accepts contact, it is unlikely that the experience will be negative or harmful for boys.
The study Psychological correlates of male child and adolescent sexual experiences with adults: a review of the nonclinical literature (Bauserman & Rind, 1997) reviewed 35 published studies on sexual relationships between boys and adults. Adding the data from all the reviewed studies, most boys report indifference or positive reaction to sexual intercourse with adults. The proportion of positive reactions between studies ranged from 6% to 68%, the proportion of neutral reactions ranged from 8% to 33%, the proportion of negative reactions ranged from 8% to 46%. Some boys do not feel like victims. Adding up positive and neutral reactions, we see that negative reactions are the minority. This is not to say that the damage from negative relationships is small, but rather that such harmful relationships do not occur with the commonly believed prevalence.356 Such data is in stark contrast to data collected from girls, which are predominantly negative.357
The main precursor of a negative reaction is force: if the boy has not been forced into act or threatened in order to give consent, then his chance of developing trauma is smaller. None of the cases considered positive by the minor involved force or threat. Some boys claim that they were volunteer participants and perceived themselves as capable of consent.359 Whether or not this consent could be considered informed was irrelevant in cases where the experience was regarded as positive. This means that the absence or presence of force or threat, coupled with a willingness to participate, is more important in determining the outcome than the presence of things like power equality or sufficient information. The reviewed studies also point out that negative relationships occur most often in incestuous settings.361
The ratio of boy/woman relationships ranged from 40% to 75% across reviewed studies. Not all experiences between boy and woman were considered positive and not all experiences between boy and man were considered negative. At least in the case of boys, age disparity played the minor role, so that the age of the participants had less impact than the presence or absence of force, for example. However, such data is inconclusive and there is no consensus on the role played by the age of those involved in the relationship. Feelings of guilt, that is, the sense that what was done was “wrong” in the eyes of others, is also a precursor of negative effects.364 The study concludes that precocious sexual experiences among boys are not consistently negative, with most experiences resulting in positive or neutral reactions, mostly harmless to the functioning of the future adult. Thus negative reactions, at least among boys, are a statistical minority (but not a small minority). This contrasts with data sampled from girls, especially from the clinical population.366 The study also mentions that social intervention in the relationship may aggravate the damage caused by the relationship (if the relationship was abusive) or cause damage that previously did not exist (if the relationship was innocuous).367
The study Reactions to first postpubertal female same-sex experience in the Kinsey sample: a comparison of minors with peers, minors with adults, and adults with adults (Rind, 2016) studied female homosexual experiences, that is, involving only girls and women, using existing data from Alfred Kinsey’s studies, collected between 1939 and 1961, as corrected by Gebhard and Johnson. The data represent a total of 467 women and only pertain to their first mutual sexual experience. The aim of the study is to test whether precocious sexual contacts are universally negative (if a sexual contact between two girls or between girl and woman can be positive, the hypothesis that such relationships are “universally” negative will be wrong). The study found no significant difference in positive reactions to the first sexual experience when the three groups were compared: the girl/girl group (210 subjects), the girl/woman group (48 subjects, of which 20 were fourteen years or younger when the experience happened) and the woman/woman group (199 subjects).
Positive reaction rates were 82% in the girl/girl group, 85% in the girl/woman group, and 79% in the woman/woman group. If we separate only girls who were fourteen years old and younger when the sexual contact with a woman happened, the proportion rises to 91%. So most of the subjects enjoyed the experience. Girls who had sex with girls or women had no negative reactions, while women who had sex with women had such reactions, but rarely. The group of girls who related to women had a larger number of subjects who took the initiative rather than the partner. In the group of girls who had sexual contacts with girls, the experiences occurred between acquaintances or friends. In the group of girls who had sexual contacts with women, the experiences occurred between strangers, friends, guardians (nannies or teachers, for example) and very rarely with “clients” (the girl was paid by the woman). In the group of women who related to women, the experiences occurred among strangers, acquaintances, friends, relatives or clients (in the case of prostitution, as in the previous group).
47.8% of girls who related to girls took the initiative in the relationship or mutually agreed with their partner, but 52.2% were passive (the partner took the whole initiative). In the group of girls who had sexual contacts with women, the girl took the initiative or mutually agreed with the partner in 57.9% of the cases, but in 36.8% of the cases the initiative was taken by the woman (with an additional 5.3% representing the number girls who were forced by the woman). In the case of women who related to women, the initiative was mutual or taken by the subject in 32.9% of the cases, but the partner took the whole initiative in 67.1% of the cases. At least in the sample analyzed, use of force only happened in the group of girls who related to women, which leads us to question the validity of applying the child sexual abuse paradigm when a libidinous act occurs between two peer-aged girls. The study proves that, at least in the case of girl/woman relationships, inequality between parties does not negatively affect positive reaction rates. The study points out that of the four types of inter-generational relationships (man and girl, man and boy, girl and woman, boy and woman) negative reactions only predominate in relationships between man and girl.
The study Reactions to first postpubertal male same-sex sexual experience in the Kinsey sample: a comparison of minors with peers, minors with adults, and adults with adults (Rind & Welter, 2016) is the last in the series of three studies presented here about data from the Kinsey report, as reviewed by Bruce Rind and Max Welter, this time focusing only on male homosexual experiences (1094 subjects, 743 of whom lost their virginity in the minor/minor relationship, 189 lost their virginity in an adult/minor relationship and 152 lost virginity in an adult/adult relationship). 70% of boys who related to men report a positive reaction, with only 16% reporting a negative reaction. Boys who had sexual contacts with boys reacted positively in 82% of the cases and negatively in only 9% of the cases. Men who related to men reacted positively in 68% of the cases, but negatively in 17% of the cases. Taking into consideration only those aged fourteen or younger who had their first sexual contact with an adults, the positive reaction rate was 76%, with the negative reaction rate approaching 19%. Considering only those who were 12 years old or younger in the boy/man group, the negative reaction rate was 24%, compared with 13% if the relationship occurred from the age of thirteen onwards. Negative reactions were precursors of psychological problems later in life, but not positive or neutral reactions.
In the case of boy/man relationships, the relationship occurred between strangers (34%), friends (25%), acquaintances (12%), guardian (10%) or relatives (8%), with an additional 11% occurring in a situation where the man paid for the relationship. Minors took the initiative in the contact only 9% of the time in the boy/man group, but 45% in the boy/boy group. In the case of adults who had sexual contacts with adults, the interviewee’s initiative occurred 30% of the time. Prevalence of use of force was 7.5% in the boy/man group, 3.5% in the boy/boy group and 1.5% in the man/man group. Damage rates (any emotional impairment as a result of the relationship) were 18.9% in the boy/man group, 17.5% in the man/man group and 9.9% in the boy/boy group.
The study Recalled sexual experiences in childhood with older partners: a study of Brazilian men who have sex with men and male-to-female transgender persons (Carballo-Diéguez and colleagues, 2012) examined 575 male and transgender subjects (defined as males who assume female identity and transvestites), of which 32% (185 subjects) had sex before adulthood.368 The minimum age to participate in the study was fourteen years. The idea was to research the prevalence of precocious sexual contacts in a Brazilian urban area (Campinas, more specifically), what would be the interviewees’ judgment of the experience (whether positive, negative or indifferent), if such experience is considered abuse by the interviewee and if the interviewee developed risky sexual behavior in adulthood (in this case, behaviors that could lead to contamination with AIDS). The data focus on subjects who had sexual contacts before the age of thirteen with a partner at least four years older, that is, all cases that today would be considered child sexual abuse. Most relationships were with a man outside the family. Of those who related to family members, most relationships occurred between cousins. Only 6% of the sample had sex with women. Contacts refer to various libidinous acts, including penetration.372
The study shows that among subjects who had sexual contacts before the age of thirteen (the average age was nine years, with the partner being, on average, nineteen), only 29% consider the experience to be abusive, that is, emotionally or physically harmful. Surprising 57% consider the relationship to be pleasurable. 29% reacted indifferently (neutral reaction). 66% say they were not forced, threatened or injured during the experience.373 Of those who consider the relationship negative, a large number state that it was not negative at the time it occurred (see secondary victimization). However, the fact that more than half of the sample affirm that the experience was positive shows that this phenomenon is the minority: most of the subjects who evaluate the experience as positive at the moment it occurred still judge it positive later in life.374
People who had precocious sexual contacts deemed abusive were more likely to have subsequent unprotected anal intercourse.375 The phenomena is partly explained by Brazilian cultural norms, which are lighter than European and American norms. However, subjects who had such relationships used marijuana and cocaine more often than the group that did not have such relationships.377 The study concludes that, among the men surveyed, 73% deny being forced into their precocious sexual experiences, 80% deny being threatened, and 91% deny being physically injured. Among transgender people, 88% deny being forced, 86% deny being threatened and 77% deny being injured. Only about a third of participants feel bad about the experience, and even fewer consider the experience to be child sexual abuse.
It follows that, contrary to popular belief, sexual experiences in childhood or adolescence are not consistently negative.379 Science fails to irrefutably demonstrate the thesis of intrinsic harm, especially in cases where sexual experience is voluntary, making it necessary to differentiate between abusive and non-abusive sexual contact, making it difficult to establish a causal relationship between sexual contact and damage, although there may be correlation. Moreover, even among negative experiences, traumatic abuse is a rare occurrence. Thus, the chance of damage is relative and the depth of the damage is relative as well. If this is the case, then there is no reason to think that all of these experiences are traumatic, which makes the trauma model unsuitable for the study of these relationships. If there is such evidence and such evidence is strong, the thesis of intrinsic harm must be dismissed, because that is how science works: even a popular theory must be dismissed when substantiated evidence contradicts it. Unfortunately, even some academics advise their students not to research certain subjects, when the possibility of emotional or political reaction from the public and even from other scientists is factual.383 This is a politically correct world. And there is nothing more politically incorrect than the data exposed in the previous section. This is a symptom of disregard for the truth and confirmatory bias: the tendency to ignore data that contradicts our beliefs and to maximize the importance of those that confirm what we already think.384
The belief in intrinsic harm is actually supported by classical studies that are flawed in their sampling and measurement methods, problems that are aggravated by the use of biased language. This is even worse because some classic studies have no control groups or are based on opinion.385 These characteristics are typical of American studies, and are a reflection of a more puritanical culture in which child sexuality, the minor’s ability to feel, desire and seek pleasure is taboo.386 According to Dolezal and colleagues, the culture of a place has an impact on the value we attach to childhood experiences.387 Thus, data obtained in North America may not be relevant to Latin American populations, since we have less sexual taboos, which predisposes us to more positively evaluate our childhood sexual experiences.388 Because of this, it makes sense that researchers claim that the age of consent is merely a legal construct, as variable as it is arbitrary, with little relationship to the actual damage that could arise from such experiences. This statement is made, for example, by Rind and Welter, who argue that the moral panic surrounding relationships between minor and adult, for example, did not originate from an empirical concern, but from a political concern.389 Thus, attributing intrinsic harm to unacceptable behavior may be an attempt to justify its unacceptability. The age of consent has much more to do with local culture than objective criteria, which explains why the age of consent varies from twelve to twenty-one depending on where you are.
One might argue that the fact that a person claims not to have suffered from such an experience or to be a voluntary participant does not indicate that he has not suffered, but it may be that he is lying. If it wasn’t to listen to the victim, no researcher, therapist or delegate would interview the victim in the first place. Interviewing a person and concluding that they lie can be valid as not interviewing them. Moreover, this does not explain why the testimony of those who claim to have been harmed must be accepted.390 Nor does it explain how positive evaluations are majoritarian in some studies. So, if we came to a conclusion before the interview, what would be the need to interview? Unless the victim agrees with the interviewer (making the interview redundant), his or her testimony will not be accepted (making the interview invalid). The victim’s word should be the most important element in the interview and, as such, must be taken seriously.391
It should be noted that much of this data refers to relationships between minor and adult, so we can assume that relationships between two minors, given the lower risk, should be more secure. Thus, we can infer that most cases of so-called child sexual abuse refer to acts of low severity, which may contribute to the disparity between occurrence and reporting: the most severe cases are reported, but the milder are covered or kept secret, especially if the relationship is valued by the minor.392 Reflecting on prostitution, Cicero, politician of Ancient Rome, questioned when there was a time when prostitution ceased after being prohibited.393 The same applies here: libidinous acts before the age of fourteen have always occurred and continue to occur despite what the law says. This is not an unusual occurrence.394 Take, for example, the Ferriani report exposed by Albert Moll (early twentieth century), which shows how nine boys aged between eight and twelve learned to masturbate: one learned from someone outside that group, then taught it to a boy inside the group, who in turn taught another, and soon, because of one child, the group of nine boys was entirely influenced. One learned from the other and all that was needed was the first boy learning it learn from someone outside the group, possibly another child or adolescent.395 By today’s law, all of these boys have committed child sexual abuse. But who guarantees that such a law made such occurrences less frequent? And why would these nine boys report it?
If we owe credit to the data I just showed, the law is good for punishing what is being reported, but the fact that many of these contacts, for whatever reason, are not reported shows that it is unable to stop them at all. Thus, the preventive capacity of the law is questioned, but it is also questioned, given the percentages of nonviolent contacts, whether its punitive capacity is not being misused. This calls into question the presumed danger of other acts that aren’t exactly lewd (see introduction), but are discouraged, such as sharing a bed with a child, kissing them on the lips, or taking baths together, which in turn calls into question the validity of legal accusations based on these acts.396
This should remedy the confusion felt by the authorities when dealing with children and adolescents who insist that they were not victimized by the act: the absence of violence is a statistically real possibility, as real as child sexual abuse, although we are trained not to accept it. The discourse of sexual violence can be rejected by many minors, who may accept or even propose lewd acts and take pleasure in them.397 In fact, in some studies, the damage was exceptional and not regular, which allows us to argue that focusing on the damage is to focus on the exception, not on the rule, but we can’t legislate with the exception in mind.398 If a precocious relationship is likely to work, provided that it is not forced, this deflates the criticism that precocious sexual contacts are intrinsicly harmful to the future of the minor and therefore wrong or immoral, especially since some subjects have even claimed that such experiences had a positive impact on their lives.399 Intrinsic harm finds no empirical foundation anywhere: if we give credit to the above exposed evidence, it’s not the fact that the act was sexual or not, but whether it was or not forced, painful or risky that affects the outcome.400
Our society, marked by victim culture and conservatism, vehemently rejects this phenomenon.401 If the supposedly asexual minor engages in sexual behavior, he is always a victim, because, adults think, he would never do such a thing unless he was forced or lied to.402 But this is to assume something about the minor without first consulting him and reflecting on his interpretation of what happened, offering him a victim-oriented interpretation that he may not even accept.403 the minor must be able to speak openly about their experiences and their judgment has to be taken seriously (see Brazilian Statute of the Child and Adolescent, article 16, item II).404 In addition, as we have seen in Lahtinen and colleagues, 2018, there are minors who selectively report the incident according to their judgment of experience. If the experience is bad, they report it; otherwise they do not report it.405 This helps to explain why some adults, in retelling their childhood sexual experiences, do not see themselves as defenseless at the time when the contact happened, nor did they see their partner as having full power, among other things because they were aware of the fact that they could, if they wanted, report the adult to the authorities. the minor knows that telling an illegal sexual experience to someone has different effects, depending on who you are telling it to: whether the authorities or a friend.406 In short, the harm does not come from the libidinous act itself, but from the associated elements, including how the minor experienced the act and what was the reaction of the people around it (see secondary victimization).407
Given this, scientific evidence in favor of the intrinsic harm thesis, that all such experiences are negative, traumatic for both boys and girls, is very difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, even considering moral damage and especially considering data outside the clinical literature.408 But the high percentage of negative relationships involving girls should be explained in more detail.
Asexuality is double-force onto the girl in the form of a gender role. This could be behind the data that states that precocious sexual experiences are most often recalled as positive by the boy, but more often recalled as negative by the girl: the girl is expected to be sexually modest, while the opposite is expected of the boy, so that he sees his experience as an adventure, an “initiation,” from which he can emerge more experienced and with higher status among other boys.409 This is also evidenced by the frequency of masturbation in boys and the fact that, on average, boys have thier sexual debut earlier than girls.410 The girl tends to see sexuality as the result of a romantic relationship, but it is not like that with the boy. This stems from informal sex education, which is different between the sexes: boys learn about physical attraction before they learn about emotional attraction, while the girl learns the same things in reverse order. This order also governs the emphasis: the boy’s sex education is focused on pleasure and the girl’s is focused on romance, when it comes to the informal sex education, learned from the social environment, rather than in school.411 In fact, some boys establish sexual relationships with people they don’t love, with love only emerging after the sexual aspect is already present in the relationship.412 We must remember that learning about sex does not necessarily make a person want to have sex.413 Thus, the fact that the boy is pressured to have sex because it’s “manly” does not guarantee that he will.
These data explain the findings of Renold’s research: the romantic experience is generally negative for the boy, who feels “used” by the girl when dating her.414 In fact, it has been pointed out that the romantic feelings in a boy, no matter how genuine it is, is often short-lived.415 As we have seen, the boy’s sex education (especially if we consider it informal education, acquired from family and friends) is focused on sex rather than romance, while the opposite is true for a girl’s education. Thus, the boy is more comfortable with sex than with romance, while the opposite is true with the girl. He has a more bodily, casual upbringing while she has an emotional, romantic upbringing. The romantic experience is negative for the boy because the girl expects him to have the necessary skills to provide her with a good emotional experience. However, because of informal sex education, boys and girls come from different subcultures.416 Then, when she becomes disappointed with the boy, the boy becomes frustrated with the girl. On the other hand, when the girl has a casual sexual experience with a boy who loses interest in her later, she becomes frustrated unless she learns that she can do the same.417
Because of informal male sex education, the casual aspect does not affect the boy.418 This may explain the extremely low number of boy/woman relationships that are recalled as negative by the boy: with adult women being constantly “corrupted” in all media, boys in a circle of friends may have a desire for older women.419 So if a boy can have a sexual to a woman, he is proud of what happened, provided he has not been forced into it and especially if he is a teenager.420 This is also because the boy, absorbing such an understanding from his own society and by living with same-sex subjects, understands that having a sexual contact with a person of the opposite sex is part of the concept of masculinity (note that a same-sex relationship could damage the image of the boy who does not identify as homosexual).421 On the other hand, he probably understands that this kind of relationship, if taken to the desired extremes, would be immoral.422 So, the fact that such a relationship can be positive does not guarantee that the boy will tell about it to other adults, as they would likely not approve it (although he can tell his friends, which would justify the results presented in my exposition of Lahtinen and colleagues, 2018, a few paragraphs above).
This is not to say that boys do not have emotional needs. The fact is that male culture, which reflects on informal male education, seems predisposed to ignore or repress such needs. Boys also want love, but the separation of cultures between genders makes this a painful and perhaps even embarrassing pursuit, because of the image that a boy is under pressure to keep, the image of an adventurous… and insensitive man. Such an image can be a burden. The pressure to have sex can be a burden too, especially because it can cause disappointment, when the boy realizes that sex is not always good as others say it is. Nevertheless, he is pressured to seek more sex rather than the affection, which can be difficult to derive from a relationship with a girl. Such emotional need may be aggravated if the boy does not find affection in his own family either.423 The fact that a man is also not expected to give affection to others aggravates this, because one way of getting affection from someone is by showing affection for that person.424 A boy may find it unbearable to follow such rules of conduct to avoid being a joke to other boys, who may secretly suffer from the same problem. So it is difficult for a boy to admit that he needs affection, but it is also difficult to achieve that affection in a relationship, not only with girls (who have high expectations), but with anyone (if he cannot get affection even from his own family).
Relationships between girl and man, if the girl is deprived of the means of exercising self-determination as well as information, and have a romanticized idea of sexuality, are often forced. In fact, women are more frequent targets of sexual violence, often committed by same-age peers, which is aggravated by the fact that the girl, from a biological point of view, enjoys sexuality less.425 This shapes the way women view sexual interactions and makes them have different expectations, which is reflected in more cautious sexual behavior, especially when dealing with strangers. This is because, when having a sexual contact with strangers, the woman feels that there is a good chance of being raped, but if the possibility of violence is removed she may be more inclined to participate.426 However, in this century, women enjoy many legal and social protections. Perhaps this explains why girls, unlike older women, are venturing more: this generation does not see sex as a threat (see statistics above). Then the phenomenon of the girl who takes the lead will be more evident, so much so that the media is already paying attention to it, although it does not document the phenomenon in a positive light.427 Such teenagers can even justify such relationships saying that their chronological age is not a reliable indicator of maturity, they are the ones to decide when they are ready for such a relationship, while trying to be consistent with their feminist discourses.428 After all, if anything goes wrong, she knows she can count on the authorities. She also knows that there are both minors and adults out there who are willing to give her the experience she wants.429 the minor weighing risks and benefits in this way could end up venturing as far as a boy. The data presented in the previous section mostly deals with retrospective studies: women were asked about their experiences as minors. Back when they were minors, things were even more repressive. Perhaps a retrospective studied conducted in the future, with adults who had a more liberal childhood, would show a higher percentage of positive memories among women.
And why would the minor desire an adult? Baurmann gives us some reasons: desire for attention and love, a sense of being taken seriously by an older person, satisfaction of neglected needs, curiosity, among others.430 Levine also mentions the fact that having a sexual experience with someone more experienced can be more pleasurable than having a sexual experience with someone who is only experienced as you are.431 Another reason are the parents: if they are abusive, it is natural for adolescents to seek attention from other adults. After puberty, this attention received can take a sexual outline.432 This may increase the percentages of harmless encounters between man and girl, despite the illegality. Girls who have been rejecting the ideal of chaste woman are growing in number, scaring society, who doesn’t know who to blame for that.433 The phenomenon of the boy interested in older people has been highlighted in the past by other studies.434 Someone can accuse me of blaming the victim by mentioning that some (perhaps many) minors seek precocious sexual contacts. What I am saying, in fact, is that there is no victim to blame: if the act was harmless and voluntary, it is a crime without victim.435
Thus, precocious sexual contacts occur to a considerable extent, questioning whether it is worth criminalizing all of these occurrences, as this causes damage to a huge number of subjects who have done no harm to anyone. Let’s also remember that conducting the arrest, prosecution, trial and incarceration costs money. It also represents government costs in the form of a prison population increase, while also reducing the number of taxpayers living in freedom. Finally, considering the proportion of positive precocious sexual contacts in the general population, we must admit that the law is overriding a large number of subjective judgments and people with conflicting interests with those of government. When the law punishes a victimless crime, it creates its own victims, who may even be outside the courtroom. This is because legal resources are wasted, money is consumed and the appraisal of more important cases is postponed. Is this law viable? If it’s viable, isn’t it too expensive? If it is viable and inexpensive, could we not even cut more expenses by punishing only real damage instead of presumed damage?436 Why not ask what is the minor’s judgment of the experience and believe him, unless another element in the process contradicts his statement?437 Does it make sense that the law punishes those who should protect, as minors in precocious sexual relationships with other minors can be prosecuted for such relationships?
The data in the previous few sections invalidates the criticism that “you shouldn’t have sex if you can’t smoke a cigarette or drive a car,” because cigarette smoking and car driving are demonstrably riskier than sex, if we owe credit to the statistics.438 One can also argue that the consumption of alcohol is not intrinsicly bad, although it can cause damage, but that does not mean that minors can consume alcohol. This is not always true: in the United States, forty-five states allow people under the age of twenty-one (minimum age for alcohol consumption in the United States) to drink alcohol. For example, in Connecticut, minors may drink alcohol under parental supervision.439
However, I concede that because of the harm that may indeed arise from sexual relations at any age, parents should have the right to prohibit their child from entering into such relationships until such parents consider that their child is prepared and instructed him or her correctly. Therefore, I propose that, instead of the government giving a fixed age of consent to all the little ones, the validity of the minor’s consent should be affirmed or denied by family power: father, mother and child should decide together and disapproval coming from at least one of the three would make the relationship criminal.440 In addition, when parents oversee the relationship they allow, the minor might even like his parents more, as the overcontrol predisposes the child against the parent. Such parents can even count on the help of their child partner in their child upbringing (if the partner is morally reliable).441
But a stumbling block arises: if the main proof that a precocious relationship has happened is the damage that could ensue, how can we differentiate between a true accusation and a false one? According to a survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in 2015, 22% of British teachers have been the victim of false accusations of sexual abuse. Emphasis on false accusations. Moreover, 14% of these allegations were made by members of the student’s family, such as parents.442 In Rio de Janeiro, the number of false accusations of child sexual abuse can reach 80% of the total of abuse allegations received.443 Accusations of harassment or rape, as they bring little consequences to the liar, are very tempting if there is a possibility of compensation. In the case of marital separation, the battle over the child’s custody can be made easier by bringing up an allegation like that.444 Moreover, false accusations of child sexual abuse are relatively safe ways of attacking the person’s honor for personal reasons. For example, in New Zealand, a trio of girls accused a teacher of sexual abuse, but one of them confessed that it was a lie to get the teacher fired.445 Of course, this makes teachers, especially male teachers, afraid to even touch their students or approach them as a friend, which impairs their pedagogy.446
It must be recalled, however, that not all false accusations are a product of bad faith: Finnish researchers have noted that, at least in Finland, the number of reports of child sexual abuse has been growing, but the number of occurrences has been decreasing.447 They found that some of these allegations are made by mistake when an adult suspects that abuse is occurring when, in fact, there is none.448 As we will see (where rights are hurt), parents are policing themselves more and the population is becoming more paranoid, not necessarily more alert. Adding up the allegations made in bad faith and the allegations made in error, we see that there is a problem, and such a problem is extensive, which could delay the consideration of cases where actual violence has occurred. Actual victims are in the same line as invented victims and imagined victims. It also increases the risk of convicting an innocent person, male or female.449
Finally, adults are not the only victims of false accusations: a black nine-year-old boy was falsely accused of groping a woman’s butt in a convenience store, but the video caught by security cameras showed that it was his backpack that accidentally rubbed the woman’s rear.450 The ambiguity carried by the term “libidinous act” enables us to issue false reports by error and the impunity of false accusers encourages them to issue false reports in bad faith.
How, then, to differentiate a harmless but criminal sexual relationship from a nonexistent one? If we limit ourselves to only prosecuting harmful relationships (harmful in a physical, mental or moral sense), the problem disappears. According to Goldman, it is rational to conclude that, if sex is morally neutral, it is not the presence of sex that we should pay attention to, but to the happiness and well-being of those involved.451 If one hundred minors are seen in precocious sexual contact, ninety were forced to participate, five were harmed by the act and the other five were voluntary participants who did not suffer, the ninety-five harmful relationships should be punished and the other five left in peace. Otherwise, if the victim’s testimony is the only thing to substantiate an accusation, the presumption of innocence, which is a human right, is eliminated (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11, 1). This is because the absence of evidence coupled with the use of testimony as the only thing that substantiates an accusation may turn the testimony into proof, which is highly risky, because such an attitude can convict people who committed no crime.452 One might argue that punishing only violent relationships is not possible because the use of force is not always distinguishable, but there are ways to distinguish the use of force in a sexual relationship. The FBI is capable of making such a separation between forced and non-forced sexual intercourse, although such a peaceful relationship can still be considered illegal if either party has not reached the age of consent (the so-called “statutory rape” in American codes).453 To find out if violence has occurred, a physical examination and the minor’s testimony should be enough.
This brings us to a new question: is the testimony of the minor reliable? There are both reasons for and against the testimony of the minor: the minor may lie to spare the partner, may lie to condemn him, may tell the truth and be believed, may tell the truth and not be believed and may also be unable to remember what happened in detail.454 But, as we have seen, we can not draw conclusions about the relationship (or abuse) without consulting the minor and take him seriously. Based on his testimony we will do the rest of the investigation and take action according to what is discovered. The other elements of the process will validate or deny the minor’s testimony.
If a number of these relationships are harmless, where does the damage from experiences recalled as pleasurable comes from? From the victim label assigned by the environment. True, there is a primary damage attributable to forced, harmful or risky sexual contact, but a person who has had a positive sexual experience may develop negative symptoms if their surroundings disapprove of such relationships. Direct damage is called primary, but damage caused by the reaction of others is called secondary.455 Remember that indigenous isolated tribes has less taboos concerning child sexuality.456 However, one does not hear of sexually traumatized isolated “primitives” or, at least, you don’t see popular studies on the subject.457 How come?
Allow me to tell the story of Erin, a woman who participated in Susan Clancy’s study on child sexual abuse. Erin didn’t know if she met the criteria to participate in the study, but after being assured that she did, she gave the researcher an interview. Her assessment of her childhood sexual experience with an adult was unsettling: it seemed that she had not suffered deeply from it. Besides, she had a pretty busy life and was very successful. Thus, she had no particularly bad judgment of the relationship (although she recognized that it was not something that should have happened) nor had long-lasting deleterious effects often attributed to precocious sexual contacts. When asked why it was not traumatic, Erin replied that, at the time when sexual contact occurred, she did not know what sex was, much less that sex between minor and adult is culturally reprehensible.458 A person who has had such an experience only questions the morality of the act by knowing that (1) such an experience can be considered a libidinous act and (2) such a libidinous act has occurred under conditions that make it unacceptable. Thus, between childhood and adulthood, one’s interpretation of the act may change.459 But this is only a problem in societies where such behavior is considered seriously wrong.
It is possible for a person to be traumatized by a sexual experience, but it is also possible that no harm is derived from it.460 What happens is that a person who has had a positive experience, when in contact with an environment that rejects such experiences, is subject to social stigma, invasive forensic examinations, forced therapy, the narrative of abuse that is imposed on him, and to parental reaction.461 In fact, if the minor’s relationship with his parents is especially bad, he might not report a negative experience out of fear of what parents could do to him.462 Although not remembered today, studies from the seventies, perhaps echoing the decaying belief that homosexuality was learned, even claimed that an overreaction on the part of parents to their child’s sexuality could facilitate the child development as homosexual.463
Part of the damage attributed to precocious sexual contacts is caused by the reaction to the act: if a precocious sexual experience does not cause pain or suffering but causes shame and guilt, the person will experience negative effects.464 This helps to explain why isolated indigenous people, who do not care about public nudity, do not seem to develop the traumas often attributed to exposure of children to nudity.465 Nudity itself is not harmful. For example, parents and children sometimes get naked at home, with other family members watching. However, the fact that I have seen my father’s nakedness and he has seen mine will not cause me any trauma.466 Something associated with this nakedness is needed to cause a trauma. In fact, if social interference can cause trauma, then it makes sense that more liberal societies also have subjects with better average mental health than the Western capitalist’s mental health.467 Of course the sexual freedom is not the only factor that contributes to this, as there are several other sources of madness in our society. Sexual repression is just one of them. We may not be able to eliminate it, but reducing it already helps (see where rights are hurt).
An example of associated negative circumstance is police involvement. The minor is questioned, sometimes by people who are unprepared for it, and their testimony may not be believed. For example, in the satanic sexual abuse scandals believed to have taken place in the United States, several interviews with minors were evidently conducted in the wrong way. In some of these interviews, the minor was held in the room until he “told the truth.” Minors who had already told the truth but had not been released understood that they would not leave until they said what the interviewer wanted to hear, so they lied.468 False confessions were used to put several individuals in jail, but the suspicion about the interviewing process soon began to grow and interest in the relationship between interviewing process and memory of the facts grew.469 Note that the feminist criticism says that society does not listen to the minor when he says he was abused, but the same criticism is silent when soeciety does not listen the minor when he says he did not suffer abuse.470
For example, according to Braine, Pollio and Foote, long-term memory stores two types of data, namely, details of what happened (matter) and how a “script” (form) that tells how details should be allocated in the narrative.471 Now, if the script is especially clear, we tend to overlook details that do not fit the script well. What one does with the biased question (for example, made in incriminating tone, assuming that the crime actually occurred from the start) is to pervert the minor’s script, giving them a greater chance to omit details and perhaps even fabricate information, voluntarily or not.472 In addition, the interviewer can use the details provided by the minor himself to complete his own narrative, concluding what the minor would not have concluded if the interviewing method had been different or if the interviewer had been someone else.
There is more than one way to use biased questions to manipulate a testimonial: according to Dale and colleagues, the way you ask a question doesn’t have a big impact on the testimony if the fact you are asking has actually occurred and was noticed by the child, but if the fact by which you inquire has not occurred or if the minor has not noticed it, the minor will try, by looking at the way the question has been asked, to deduce the “right” answer.473 Thus, it is possible to make the minor confess almost anything, provided it is not absurd and has not occurred or was not noticed, depending on how the question is asked and depending on the minor’s disposition. Other ways to distort the testimony are to instill predetermined ideas about the accused, to point out that other minors have answered the interview questions differently, to assume that something wrong happened, to ask the minor to “imagine what happened” when they cannot answer, stating that certain answers have negative consequences (while others have positive consequences), waiting too long between the moment the act took place and the moment of the interview, repeating already answered questions and using questions with predefined answers, such as multiple choice those that only accept “yes” and “no” as valid answers.474
Such methods of memory manipulation did not cease to exist. Although they became less frequent, they also became more refined. In Italy, in the city of Reggio Emilia, eighteen people, including psychologists, social workers, politicians (such as Andrea Carletti, mayor of Bibbiano) and doctors, were arrested for taking poor children out of their homes and putting them in a clandestine adoption system, in which they would be sold to new parents. To do so, they issued a false report of sexual abuse. Before the trial, criminals led the minor to think they were abused by their parents. This was done using psychotherapy, lies and electroshock. when the minor then gave his testimony, it was severely distorted. The minor confused, himself, justified his removal from a perfectly healthy home.475 After that, the gang sold minor.476 So such manipulations still happen and it is important that parents know that. There are people who profit from reports of sexual abuse and such people can also form gangs in the social service and in the mental health system.477 Perhaps the parents of these minors had reacted if they recognized the professionals’ suspicious behavior. Incidentally, In addition, treatment for child sexual abuse is not free: this process is always paid for by someone. What is the point of paying for a treatment that will not do you good?478
Today, the most accepted way to interview the minor is through the open question: the interviewer asks “what happened?” and the minor simply tells the story as he or she remembers. An interview that doesn’t abide to this model is actually less reliable. Perhaps it is the fear of a poorly-conducted interview that has increased the demand for interviews to be recorded so that the judge or a forensic psychologist can assess whether the interview was conducted correctly.479 A sloppy interview that concludes a lie using the words said by the minor himself creates a sense of betrayal in the minor, of distrust in the process itself, which he is forced to participate in.
In addition, the memory of an abusive experience is less coherent and less detailed than the memory of a positive experience, which is more coherent, richer and less emotional, presumably because retelling a traumatic experience is uncomfortable.480 Thus, if the minor recounts what happened with indifference and detail, but seems to not have suffered from the act and denies violence in his testimony, he is likely to be telling the truth.481 The obvious sign of violence is the change in behavior change. On the other hand, the positive experience is more easily forgotten when the minor grows up, because negative experiences are harder to forget.482
If the contact was objectively violent, we should still follow interrogation guidelines. According to Petersen: the interview should take place with a psychologist present who oversees the process, such an interview should always be recorded and the interrogator must have been specially trained to do so, but there seems to be no legal protection easily granted to the parent who insists that his child is only interviewed in the presence of a third party who supervises the interview.483 According to Fanetti and colleagues, there are criteria for evaluating an interview, including: acceptance of “I don’t know” answers, absence of threat or bribery, absence of conversations before the interview (which may predispose the child to certain types of answers), no repetitive questions (insisting on asking the same things over and over) or biased questions.484 These criteria serve to check whether or not the interview was well conducted, but do not indicate with certainty if the testimony is true or not.485 However, evidence suggests that minors rarely lie about child sexual abuse, so it is safe to believe what they say during a properly conducted interview.486 To end the section on the damage done by the legal system, you need to remember how uncomfortable the forensic examination can be, when it comes to detect signs of abuse on a person’s body. Be also aware that interrogations may have to be done more than once.487
The process of inquiring into facts about abuse can itself cause trauma and allow for false confessions to be milked (a movie called The Hunt shows an example of how a poorly conducted interview can harm the minor and lead to a false confession).488 Imagine how you would feel to be forced to lie to incriminate a person who did not hurt you, especially if it’s a person you like and who treated you well. Imagine also having to show evidence gathered in your own body to condemn someone you consider a friend of yours.489 That happens. And sometimes the subject is prosecuted even without an incriminating testimony if the minor remains true to his feelings, as the minor’s testimony can be misrepresented in favor of conviction (which is the case of remarks such as “abused minors who deny violence are being motivated by trauma to lie”). The age of consent can be violated indoors, between same-age peers, whom are loved by the person giving the testimony.
Take the example of incest: according to studies, the degree of attraction to adolescents is very similar between law-abiding subjects and those who are serving sentences for building sexual relationships with adolescents before the age of consent.490 So, of course, incest occurs frequently, perhaps more often than illegal relationships outside the family: family structure can place the desiring person and the desired person under the same roof.491 It seems that incest is less psychologically damaging when the younger part is a child, becoming a more serious experience with adolescence because, with age, the child internalizes that incest is morally reprehensible.492 Nevertheless, incest is not a crime in Brazil, provided that both parties are capable of legally valid consent and that sexual intercourse is carried out with such consent. To take this further, although incestuous marriage is prohibited in Brazil, a woman married to her own father in the United States after two years of dating.493
If we owe credit to the statistics shown above (in the prevalence of harmless sexual contacts before the age of consent), the minor caught in a lewd act with a sibling, for example, may not find intervention necessary. If the minor realizes that he or she may be removed from the family because of the act, he or she may even deny his or her testimony (no matter if true or false) if he or she has previously confirmed that the contact has occurred.494 A violent disruption of the affective bond happens, followed by the feeling of guilt for what happened, in addition to other effects such as depression and the feeling that it is he, the minor himself, who is being punished.495 If we have to consider the best interests of the minor, this should ensure that law must be relativized. Thus, if the relationship is mutually voluntary, the process will naturally be more detrimental than the relationship, thus conflicting with the best interests of the minor.496 The fact that the intervention is more detrimental than the relationship can be confirmed in cases where the relationship continues after the sentence has been served. In addition, jail may fail to “teach” the convict that his attitude was wrong: if the act was voluntary and harmless, the convict is unlikely to see himself as an aggressor but as a victim of the government.497
Thus, we see that minors who do not feel victimized by the act can acquire symptoms of trauma after social intervention on the relationship. This intervention pushes the victim label upon minors who, after accepting the victim-oriented narrative, develop several negative symptoms that would not have appeared if the victim discourse had not been forced upon him.498 For M. Petersen, 1986, this is one of the reasons why this type of sexual contact is not always reported: parents who are aware that the intervention is disproportionate to their child’s relationship may cover it up.499
Given this, one may wonder how can this law continue to exist. It is sustained only by the purely linguistic classification of every sexually active minor as a victim of rape. Tolerating the rejection of the victim narrative or its minimization by the very people who should be the protagonists of such narrative paves the way for a type of social change that the dominant forces find undesirable.500 Hence the need for all minors in precocious sexual relationships to be classified as rape victims; if this is not done, these relationships will soon become acceptable. Our society does not seem ready for a new sexual rights revolution. This motivates the blind classification of precocious sexual contacts as rape and hence the perpetuation of the law.
One might argue that treating sex as morally neutral is not enough to justify the permissibility of these relationships.501 It really is not enough. But permissibility is still justified because prohibition can be harmful to the minor as well. In fact, as quoted by Schultz, the reaction of society and the parents of the minor can have more destructive potential than the relationship itself. The evaluation of these relationships according to their own merit would be a more appropriate attitude. But where does this destructive potential come from? According to Schultz’s quote, this potential comes from the desire to eliminate any suspicion that the minor was a voluntary participant in the relationship (because it makes the minor’s parents feel like they have failed as parents, presumably in their child’s moral education) and from the need to sue the adult through the minor.502 Another reason why parents worry about such a relationship is that it subverts the power dynamics that parents have with their children, as a stranger may alienate the child from parental control.503
For Kilpatrick, there are four factors that make social reaction as harmful or even more harmful than sexual abuse: the secret (an adult may have asked or even forced the minor not to tell about the relationship, hence the despair when the secret is discovered or is about to be discovered), the parents’ reaction to finding out, the social reaction in general and the rush to judicially convict the partner, which cannot be done without the minor’s help.504 In the past, such a conviction had to be exhaustively milked through a long interrogation from which the minor could not flee until he said that there was abuse, even if such abuse had not occurred.505 It doesn’t matter if the minor says that the libidinous act was voluntary, the law will ignore it, the parents will report it, the minor will have to testify, and no one will ask the minor’s consent for any of that. If, on the one hand, denying the minor’s right to consent during the libidinous act produces a “no”, it is strange that not asking the minor’s consent during a legal process would result in a “yes”.506 If the minor has indeed been abused and is suffering from experience, rusing him or her to testify against the partner can make matters worse. We should focus on the minor’s welfare, on recomposing him, not on using him for legal purposes or for revenge. In addition, such a reaction could impair the recovery of the minor if child sexual abuse has taken place.507
The finishing touch is given by the media and the health care system. Commenting on a Canadian incident in 1993, where several fourteen-year-old boys (age of consent in Canada at the time of the incident) were discovered in relationships with adult men and sent to therapy, Bruce Rind says social workers were shocked by seeing that the boys did not consider themselves victims. The same employees interpreted that the denial of the damage was the result of a trauma in the boys, which prevented them from talking about it honestly. So these guys felt it was their duty to make the boys see themselves as victims, even though such boys were emphatic in saying that there was no coercion or harm from sexual intercourse.508 This was also noted by Susan Clancy when she interviewed people for her study on child sexual abuse: she was shocked to see that many subjects she worked with contradicted her ideas that sexual contact before puberty with an adult partner was an intrinsically traumatic and very serious experience, that would harm the child’s development.509 She, a psychologist, was intrigued by this, because it was something she had not been trained for. Note that it would make more sense to admit that the boys simply did not suffer from the act than giving a long explanation that denies something that is right there, before your eyes. Saying that the boy’s memory has been repressed, that he is lying or something like that, makes less sense than taking the minor’s testimony seriously and admitting that no harm happened. This would even be scientifically correct: when two theories try to explain the same phenomenon, the simplest explanation is preferable.510
The media made a huge deal about the incident, saying it was a circle of adults interested in producing child pornography, although there was no child involved (only teenagers legally able to consent to sex), although most adults did not record anything and despite the fact that adults were not known to each other. There was no group, there was no child, there was little pornography (although teen porn is child porn, see where rights are hurt). So even if the minor has not suffered from precocious sexual contacts contact, he or she may end up being medicated or managed by the social service or mental health system, because our notions of child development are monolithic. Escaping from what is considered “normal” at a certain age is concerning for adults and minors are expected to be asexual.511 Thus, it is assumed that any sexual contact before the age of fourteen is violent, because the minor, if innocent, never wants anything sexual. Anecdotal evidence contradicts that.512 There is no reason to treat these minors as abnormal.
Levine tells us the story of twelve-year-old Tony Diamond and his sister Jessica. The girl said at school that Tony had touched her, which prompted the teachers to alert the authorities. He was interviewed by the social service, who found that Tony had already used dirty words, looked under his classmates’ skirt, and that at the age of four, he had been lying upon Jessica when they bathed together. Tony had also poked Jessica’s bottom with a pencil. To the reader, these things should not sound like “abuse”: children are less modest and do this kind of thing because it’s funny, often without any sexual intent. Despite this, Tony was separated from the family. His parents were told that he was a potential criminal who needed treatment.
Children today are seen as sick or wrongdoers for things that many adults have done during their childhood, such as playing doctor, exposing their own or others’ genitals, undressing friends in public, showing off their butts, stealing kisses, certainly tasteless jokes , displays of “mischief”, but neither sick nor particularly traumatic. Today, this kind of behavior, when manifested among minors, can be seen as an offense. True, boys are no longer castrated for unwanted sexual practices, specially because the number of sexual practices considered unwanted today is much smaller than in the last century, but that does not mean that immoral psychiatrists ceased to exist, especially when patients are minors. The minor attends to therapy against his will. If the minor has been forced to have sex and has suffered, it is important that he does not suffer again: the minor suffering at the hands of an abuser should not then suffer at the hands of the state, social workers or the mental health system. Even so, treatment for children who are truly abused may not have a significant positive effect. To this day, it is unclear to what extent such treatment works or whether protection services are doing their job well.516
Why would a healthy minor receive treatment? Part of the reason is that sexuality is not considered normal in minors. Now, if we owe credit to what the introduction says, sexuality is normal or at least a phenomenon prevalent even in childhood. If normal is “something that is according to a norm” and most minors are sexual, then sexuality is normal in minors. If “normal” is more than “being in accordance to a norm”, how do you define what is normal? This is not an easy question to answer.517 Because there is no scientific consensus on what normal sexuality is, sexual rehabilitation clinics (such as clinics for minors recovering from sexual abuse and clinics for treating “problematic children”) need to be guided by social values: children should not touch each other on the genitals or rear, the girl of fifteen should not go out with a boy of thirteen, among other judgments that identify “lawful” and “appropriate”, as if normal and legal were one and the same. How can a treatment like this succeed at bringing happiness to the patient? Nevertheless, researchers are intrigued when the treatment does not work.518 If society wants the minor to be asexual, methods of sexual rehabilitation for the minor have to produce an asexual minor by any means deemed necessary, some cruel and unusual. If social values are what matters, the sexually active minor is a “child who molests”, worthy of exemplary punishment or at least of treatment, a treatment that is not guided by scientific notions of normal, but by those same values that condemn child sexuality, which ends up validating popular thinking and being profitable.519 It is unfair that the child who touches another with mutual agreement is treated almost like the teenager who rapes, tortures and kills (which may even have developed a violent tendency because of sexual repression).520 After all, both are sent to therapy, but one of them clearly needs it and the other does not.
Because child sexuality research is unpopular, it receives little to no funds, which in turn keeps us ignorant of how to deal with the phenomenon, maintaining the flow of victims and hence the flow of profit that validates popular thinking. Ignorance is so prevalent, that the father may not know when his son’s sexual behavior is normal or not. Ignorance turns therapy into control, and it is no different from what we did with homosexuals only fifty years ago, except that we tried to make the homosexual interested in the opposite sex, while the minor is pressured to turn his sexual feelings inwards. It seems that self-stimulation is the only acceptable child sexual behavior. This shows that we are more interested in validating our own assumptions than in the welfare of the minor, when the recommendation is that we put aside such assumptions whenever treatment is concerned. In cases where actual damage has occurred, recovering the minor is more important than punishing the criminal.523 This is even truer when the minor and the criminal are the same.
This too makes the minor sick. The damage caused by poor therapy is called “iatrogenic damage”.524 The minor who goes through interrogation, through severing of family bounds, through the state machine, especially when he goes through all of this for no reason or for a reason he does not understand, is being harmed. If he has to undergo therapy that tries to convince him that he is a victim or a criminal, that what happened was wrong, something to be ashamed of, it is only natural that he gets worse. But why label a minor as a victim if he doesn’t feel like a victim? This treatment is worse than the crime or offense if the libidinous act that triggered the whole ordeal was voluntary and harmless.526 In cases where there was no real violence, the minor is thus victimized by the cruel legal system and, subsequently, by unnecessary therapy.527
Since we do not have a definition of normal, why not use the concept of harmless instead? For Campbell and colleagues, sexual contact between minors is not problematic if it is spontaneous, mutually voluntary, and does not result in a negative response. If this is the case, it makes no sense to treat the minor for having fun, for playing a game that is not so different from playing soccer, a sport in which participants spontaneously agree to have fun.
In the past, when there was treatment to cure masturbation, patients were more harmed by treatment than by being abandoned to the vice, which, as we now know, is even more harmless than sex. The same is true now: if the minor is not sick or traumatized, do not treat him, because, if all treatment has side effects, it is not worth it to subject a healthy minor to any kind of treatment. In effect, the treatment harms the healthy person. Victim status should never be forced upon a person.529 If so, the person has been victimized by the forensic investigator, social workers or clinical psychologists, who should ensure the patient’s physical and mental integrity. This is also child abuse, if the sexual contact was mutual and harmless, to the highest degree, worse than the offending experience. We thus conclude that medical or social intervention on the minor’s relationship poses a risk for his or her well-being, if the minor does not feel victimized by the act or if he or she rejects the idea of being labelled as a victim. That’s a violation of the principle of full protection, which guides the Brazilian Child and Adolescent Statute. Finally, it would be interesting to offer training for people of the legal apparatus, including judges, to deal with such situations, that is, sexual offenses perpetrated by children or against children.
It can be argued that precocious sexual contacts should remain prohibited because society does not accept them. Well, but you have to remember that this kind of attitude leads us to conclusions like “we have to ban homosexuality to protect homosexuals from a homophobic society” or “we can’t let a white child be adopted by a black father because our society is racist and the child would suffer discrimination because of the father.”531 Such an argument could also be used against the emancipation of women: women must be protected in a world that is hostile to them, so they cannot leave the domain of men who, as their protectors, deprive them of potentially harmful rights. Something should not be prohibited because it is socially unacceptable, not in a liberal society.
This is not only bad for the minor: if the child commits lewd acts with another, even if they are harmless and voluntary, parents may end up being punished for such acts because they have failed as parents to prevent their child from committing an offense, even if such an offense was just a joke. In Brazil, that could very well happen, as the parents and guardians can be held accountable for a child’s offense, provided that the child isn’t aged 12 (which doesn’t mean that the child will be penally punished, but will respond through a separate system for the youth). Again the legal system undermines the child’s relationship with his natural family for no reason. This is leveraged by the conservative belief, already shown to be incorrect, that the minor can develop sexual behaviors only after having a sexual contact, a belief that still exists in the minds of social workers who have received little or no training on how to deal with child sexuality.532 If the child develops sexual behavior, the parents are under suspicion.533 Is this minor being abused at home? How? Levine tells us that in Virginia, most mental health professionals and law professionals suspect of parents who kiss their children on the lips, get naked at home, or even hug their children “too” often.534 To make matters worse, a newspaper report from O Globo shows one of these professionals (a foreigner, not a Brazilian) warning that kissing your son on the lips is sexual.535 Importing values from other countries, Brazilian parents then monitor how much affection they spend on their children, a phenomenon also observed in Denmark, but one has to wonder at what cost (where rights are injured, see my comment to Prescott). What was previously not problematic, such as the “quick peck” between father and son, is now viewed with suspicion.537 There’s a slippery slope of affection monitoring.
The right to sexuality is potentially harmful to minors, we may argue, but sexuality is not intrinsicly dangerous. It is made negative if there is force or lack of information. Even if one wanted to concede that such relationships could be dangerous and therefore worthy of informed consent, it would make more sense for the consent to be issued by parents rather than the government, as they are the immediate authority to children thanks to family power (for a description of family power, see Civil Code, Article 1.630).538 It should be recalled that family power includes the ability to confirm or deny a child’s consent to marriage, so the extension of family power to sexual relations should not sound like something completely unlike anything we are used to (Civil Code, Article 1.634, item III).539 If one has the power to judge and act against dangerous sexual conduct immediately, that person is the parent, through the exercise of that family power, and, if they are unable to act alone, they have more competence and initiative to bring the authorities to action.540
But what if parents abuse family power to try to suppress their child’s sexuality? If, on the one hand, letting the minor enter any adventure is not ideal, the perpetuation of the “asexual minor” stereotype is not ideal either. Therefore, using family power to suppress a child’s sexuality should be understood as an attack on the child’s and adolescent’s most intimate possession: his or her body.541 The suppression of child sexuality could then be punishable based on Article 1.637 of the Civil Code, according to which parents cannot ruin the property, and the body is a property, of their children. The prohibition or permission of a particular libidinous act should be based on the best interests of the minor. I say “in the best interest” because immoderate permission could be an offense against good manners (Civil Code, article 1.638, item III).
If sexual expression and attachment are natural rights, whereas a freedom given to a child or adolescent cannot be removed without careful consideration, then Brazil’s age of consent law, especially when interfering with relationships between two minors, must be rethought. Moreover, its literal application is never realistic. It is not realistic because the asexuality paradigm assumes that the minor has no sexuality, so that he would always be a victim, an object of someone’s sexuality.542 But he has sexuality, as attested in the medical and social literature, which makes it far from reality to apply the law literally at all times.
So it is not realistic because the minor is not always an object of someone’s sexuality, but can also be the subject of his or her own sexuality. If we deny that such sexuality exists, we deny that the minor is the subject of their sexuality and, consequently, the law will always see the minor as a victim. And that’s not realistic. The law distanced itself from the reality of concrete cases. The law must punish these relationships based on actual harm. Lastly, if the breakup of the relationship can harm the minor, then that breakup cannot happen in a relationship valued by both parties. To know if this is the case, the minor must be heard and their opinion taken into consideration rather than assuming that they are lying. That should at least make law enforcement more relativistic. Thus, the literal text of the law does not take into account that many of these relationships are innocuous rather than forced, disregarding the sentiment of the minor and sometimes acting against the best interests of the alleged victim. This can lead to a specific type of trauma that can appear even in cases where the experience has been positive.
In the Netherlands, when sexual legislation was being reformed, the Protestant Alliance for Child Protection, the Association of Medical Sexology, the Socrates Humanistic Foundation and the Institute for Social Sexual Research suggested that minors were already adequately protected by other articles of the law, making an age of consent unnecessary.544 All problems raised by this text, including the conflict with the rights of children and adolescents, would be avoided by abolishing article 217-A of the Brazilian Penal Code. Punishment would only be necessary if the act was unwanted or harmful to the minor. The regular rape law is enough.
There is another problem that needs to be discussed, which is how the law deals with precocious sexual contacts and how it deals with other crimes involving minors. For example, Sampasa-Kanyinga and colleagues, in their 2018 study on the correlation between child abuse and professional stress, found that, in a Canadian sample of 14,581 individuals, the prevalence of abuse in general is 32.8%. However, within this percentage, physical abuse (slapping the face, pushing and hitting with hard objects) amounts to 26.9%, while sexual abuse (understood as forced sexual experience) amounts to 9.6%.545 So, non-sexual violence against the minor occurs more often, but let’s look at the proportion of the penalties: precocious relationship, consented or not, has a minimum penalty of eight years and a maximum penalty of fifteen years, but immoderate punishment for educational purposes (“mistreatment”) is punished with jail, but only from two months to twelve years, increasing by one third if the punishment is made at a person younger than fourteen years (Brazilian Penal Code, articles 136 and 217-A). Suppose the father tickles his son’s genitals and such an act is considered to be libidinous, he may get a higher penalty (minimum of eight years) than if he had slapped those same genitals with a slipper, causing serious bodily harm (maximum of four years, aggravated by one third if the child is under fourteen), if such an act of violence had been done “to correct the child”. In Denmark, the news of a mother playing with her son’s genitals has caused popular outrage, although there has been a wide range of reactions, as well as an Internet debate about the extent to which intimate mother-child interaction is harmless to an allegedly asexual child. This was not the only occurrence: photographs, computer games, and even a music video by artist Sia have already caused this public outrage for similar reasons.547 Parents who kiss their children on the lips, even where such an act would not entail judicial intervention, are also attacked by the public. This resonates with Kincaid’s observation, for whom our society tends to find normal acts of violence done to children (in an “educational” context) but is suspicious of displays of affection.549 Thus, a kiss can cause more legal problems than a belting if we use the excuse of “corrective punishment”.550
Another interesting fact is that, contrary to popular belief, the study by Sampasa-Kanyinga and colleagues concludes that, among the individuals studied, the number of boys who suffer abuse in general is higher than the number of girls, leading us to question to what extent girls are more vulnerable than boys.551 Another interesting finding is that the impact of child abuse, whether physical or sexual, on professional stress levels was very similar, so that, contrary to popular belief, forcing a child to have sex is no worse than other forms of abuse: the mother who beat her child is as harmful as the father who rapes that same child, at least in regards to professional adjustment. But what about effects other than work stress? The classic study by Ney and colleagues, 1994, shows us data about the negative potential of physical, verbal and sexual abuse, physical and emotional neglect, and their combinations, since one type of abuse or neglect very rarely occurs in isolation. Of the ten worst combinations of abuse and neglect, only one involves sexual abuse. This is not to say that sexual abuse is harmless, but it is certainly the least frequent of all. The worst combination of abuse and neglect is physical neglect, physical abuse and verbal abuse. On its own, sexual abuse may be less harmful than other forms of abuse, which occur more often and spoil the child’s self-esteem and ruins the child’s plans for the future (for example, the child thinks more about suicide, has a bad concept of his or her self and is probably in poor physical health). Again, that is not to say that child sexual abuse is something that should be accepted, but there is certainly worse stuff happening and going unnoticed.
However, penalties do not reflect this: relationships with minors may or may not be consensual and may well be harmless and desired, while physical abuse is never consensual and is always harmful, which means that the penalty for precocious sexual contacts violates the principle of proportionality, while also discouraging intimate displays of affection and encouraging abusive physical punishment. The only way for a mother to receive a sentence of more than fifteen years for “pedagogically” beating her son is if she killed her son and only if the judge declared a maximum sentence (twelve years, aggravated by one third, totaling sixteen years), paving the way to the dangerous temptation to kill the minor after having a sexual contact with him in order to hide the fact that the relationship occurred and receive a potentially lighter penalty. However, in order for the act to be considered mistreatment rather than torture (which has a heavier penalty), the offender would have to make it look like the death was the result of corrective punishment, which would encourage elaborate forms of murder.
One may wonder if the clues left in the minor’s body would not be enough to conclude that sexual contact occurred. This is true for penetrative or violent contacts, but not necessarily for non-penetrative and peaceful contacts. Primarily because peaceful contact leaves no marks of violence, which could be detected on forensic examination.555 Second, minors who were examined after they had precocious sexual contact can have normal results in physical examinations.556 In the case of prepubescent children, evidence such as semen may no longer be present in the body nine hours after the event and will probably have disappeared the next day. Thus, biological evidence, specifically semen, if it exists (since not all libidinous acts are penetrations), can be more easily found on the minor’s clothes or mattress. In addition, additional information about the minor should be collected. The problem is that this is not always possible if the minor dies. Other biological evidence can be blood, saliva and skin cells, which are most easily found up to seventy-two hours after the occurrence. Thus, the ability of the forensic examination to detect whether or not the minor had sex and with whom depends on when the contact occurred and the type of contact.
One may ask if killing the child as a result of punishment really happens. Yes, I can cite two cases: a father who killed his two-year-old daughter and the mother who killed his two-year-old son, because both children had urinated in bed. Interestingly, the case of the mother who killed her son happened in the United States, where she got forty years in jail for the incident. But also in the United States, a person who shoots another may receive a lesser penalty than an adult who has sexual contact with a teenager who wanted the relationship.561 Other examples of disproportion, considering the penalty for a consented relationship with a partner under fourteen (eight to fifteen years) are:
to promote the irregular departure of a child or adolescent from the country in order to profit from it (this probably included child trafficking, penalty of up to eight years plus additional penalty proportional to the violence done to the child or adolescent, according to the Brazilian Child and Adolescent Statute, article 239 and paragraph single);
to force an adult to have sex (penalty of up to twelve years, except in the event of death, in which the penalty would be up to thirty years, according to the Brazilian Penal Code, article 213 and paragraphs);
to give a loaded gun to a child or adolescent (penalty of up to six years, according to the Brazilian Child and Adolescent Statute, article 242).
To be fair, though, I am sticking to the literal text of the law and assuming that other crimes did not occur in conjunction with the crimes mentioned in this section. If the mother kills her son and then hides the body, she will be tried for murder and for hiding the corpse, for example. Confusion in penalty proportions is not a purely Brazilian phenomenon: SOL Research shows other cases where the laws we create around child sexuality interfere with the lives of honest people in other countries as well. Emphasis is placed on the proportionality of penalties for sex crimes in the United States, that is, the moral panic over child sexuality and the fear of precocious sexual contacts does not reflect an exclusively Brazilian reality.567
There are worse crimes than rape, especially if the “rape” has been consented and if the “victim” does not see the act as worthy of punishment. This kind of observation has even led some feminists to admit that the penalty for rape, due to the large amount of “harmless rape”, is too high. How, then, to restore the proportionality of penalties? One might argue that constitutionally reducing the penalty for sex with person under the age of consent is not possible because the Federal Constitution states that the state must punish severely, and severely is the keyword, the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents (article 227, §4). If this is true, I see two ways out: increasing the penalties for all crimes committed against children and adolescents or admitting that precocious sexual contacts, when devoid of violence and harm, especially when family power is approving of the relationship, should not be a crime, provided it was not done in the context of exploitation. O’Carroll defines “exploitation” as bargaining for sex: exchanging affection or money for sexual favors, for example. Thus, if there were no bargaining, such as a bribe, payment, or exchange as an element of a precocious relationship, then it was not exploitative. The most obvious law against this is the law against child prostitution, which must remain in force. In fact, its abolition would be unconstitutional. But that does not prevent, for example, the elimination of 217-A and the insertion in Article 213 of the Brazilian Penal Code of an penalty aggravation if the victim was under fourteen, with extra aggravations in the event of injury or death. Kershnar defines “exploitation” as taking advantage of others’ weaknesses.564 If it is to be ensured that the sexual expression of the minor does not leave him at the mercy of those who can exploit him, we could do to the minor what we do to the workers: there are laws that allow a worker to perform his function without being exploited by the boss, such as the law against slave labor, preventing an employer from taking advantage of the employee’s desperate need to be employed.565 It all comes down to reconsidering laws and protections: minors could be more legally empowered to sue those who exploited them.
One could argue that reducing the age of consent could increase the problem of adolescent motherhood. The minimum age of consent in Japan is thirteen and only four out of every 1,000 mothers have their first child before age nineteen. In fact, despite its low age of consent, Japan is very poor in terms of sex education. If lack of sex education can both discourage first-time relationships and encourage risky relationships, it makes sense that the birth rate in Japan is below the death rate. Thus, a low age of consent is not directly related to the increase in the number of teenage mothers: there are other factors to consider, such as sex education, the legality of abortion, among others.
Human beings are mammals. As mammals, human children need physical contact. Deprivation of physical contact impairs the health, including physical health, of babies, for example. In addition, deprivation of touch impairs the development of empathy, facilitating the development of any violent tendencies that the minor may have. The study Body Pleasure and Origins of Violence concludes that promotion of physical affection in the form of caresses, hugs, kisses, and other forms of pleasurable skin contact, as well as tolerance to child sexuality (especially in adolescents), encourage minors to develop more peacefully. The study also concludes that painful physical contact, such as physical punishment or mere deprivation of affection, contributes to the opposite development: the minor does not develop capacities to form loving affective bonds and becomes a violent adult. Thus, deprivation of physical affection and repression of sexuality makes our minors sick, making them violent and even criminals.572
Eysenk’s study of 186 criminals among murderers, rapists, and thieves shows that most of them have negative attitudes toward sex. In addition, the relationship between sexual repression, poor sex education and a tendency to rape was also pointed out by Bart Delin. This is confirmed by other studies that also state that physical contact favors the development of empathy as well as self-concept. The cultivation of ideas such as “my personal space” contributes to territorial and belligerent tendencies. Perhaps this explains to us how the feminist obsession with the problem of rape made women so suspicious and even weakened: it is like every man is a potential rapist. Some women have learned to live in fear of men, which sets the sexes apart. If women and men are prevented from bonding with each other, they become stranger and stranger to each other, increasing the chance of seeing each other as mutual enemies.
Adults complain about violence, but they fight violence with violence (physically punishing the child when that child displays violent behavior, for example), forgetting the people they should love at home: their children.576 Prohibition of physical affect impairs our ability to humanize others. So it is natural for our society to become more violent when our opportunities for demonstration of physical affection, sexual or otherwise, are taken from us either by the laws or demands of the Western capitalist system, which requires both parents to work, putting the child in full-time schools, where affective activity is discouraged and sexual experience is punished, although the school environment provides many opportunities for both affection and eroticism. For example, since adult/minor sex is a heinous crime, and every libidinous act that may be included in dating between a child under the age of fourteen and an adult of eighteen is regarded as rape, I, as a teacher, may be required to report the relationship of this student, because I will be punished for not preventing the heinous crime from happening if it was in my power to prevent it, according to the Federal Constitution, article 5, item XLIII, even if it goes against the best interests of the minor (in effect, a number responsible relationships results in benefit for the minor, as we saw earlier). Thus the law may indeed stand in the way to the best interest of the minor. If the minor is well, what legitimizes my intervention, especially if there is a risk of damaging the minor at the cost of nothing?
Then again, Kincaid’s statement is validated: our hatred for love and love for hatred manifests itself in our laws.580 We are not in a position to fight the violence, if we participate in it. A morality that allows human development cannot be abstracted from our mammalian nature. Perhaps this value was contained in the sixties and seventies slogan “make love, not war”: less love, less cooperation, more competition, more hatred.582
In addition, as sexual curiosity is not fully satisfied by school sex education, boys may react shyly to sexual experiences, which causes them to delay their first experiences. Human development can be separated into stages. Maturity and experience go together, so the best time to learn something new is when the body is mature enough for it. Thus, in learning something outside of the moment when the body is better able to receive such teaching, information may find resistance in its future assimilation.583 Take for example puberty. It would be the perfect time, from a strictly biological point of view, to have your first sexual experiences, even if not penetrative, assuming that those experiences did not occur in your childhood already. In places where the age of consent is higher than fourteen, one would have to wait until the end of puberty to have these experiences, that is, at a time when the ability to learn sexual skills easily is fading. This will hurt these minors when they become adults: it is not possible for an adult to be sexually capable if he or she has never learned about sex in childhood or adolescence effectively.584 This makes it difficult to establish a desired relationship (the so-called incel phenomenon, or ‘involuntary celibacy’, which designates the desire to build a relationship and the failure to achieve such relationships).
In childhood and adolescence, when you have less moral modesty, the physical response comes naturally. But, trained to suppress these responses, an adult who reaches age eighteen without any sexual experience will have to relearn such responses. This would help to explain the phenomenon of “self-sexual” youth, people who admit to having sexual desires but who are content with masturbation without any interest in sex with another person, which is not intrinsically bad and may be an adaptational advantage in a sexually hostile environment: if there are unacceptable forms of sexuality (in this case, any libidinous act before the age of fourteen), the fulfillment of an unacceptable desire can only be attained by fantasy.585 This phenomenon, however, led religious politicians to issue Bill No. 6,449 / 2016 against free pornography.586 It was hoped that, by prohibiting masturbation stimulants, young people would seek relationships with partners. The consequences would be manifest: without satisfactory sex education, without means of satisfaction, all that remains is the risky relationship or the consumption of pornography by other means, which, with the approval of the bill, could later become unlawful, artificially increasing the crime rate. It is not pornography that leads one not to look for partners. In some cases, it is sexual repression that causes this: girls who learn that “sex is ugly” become women who, because of shame, cannot engage pleasantly in the sexual act, which in turn causes marital disappointment.587 Increasing consumption of pornography and declining relationships are symptoms, not the root of the problem.
Remember that sexuality constructs itself over time, from its innate roots to refinement through experience. The next stage of sexual development depends on the previous stage. If the child’s experience is one of repression, the adolescent’s experience will be marked by shyness and the adult’s experience will be marked by uselessness. So, yes: child sexual repression causes problems in adulthood, perhaps as much as the shame imputed to harmless acts. For example, by learning that sex is morally low, one may have difficulty reconciling sex and love, which may make the person shy about having relationships with a loved one, but not when having a sexual contact with a stranger.591 Again, the self-sexual phenomenon: perhaps these young people are in love, but seeing the Platonic relationship as preferable, perhaps because it is viewed as morally superior, they are directing their sexual drive towards pornography. Also, learning to be ashamed of the body, to view your body as “ugly” also impairs sexual performance or even the way a person views sex in general. So perhaps body dissatisfaction leverages the shame of nudity, which leads to the rejection of sex and the search for alternatives. Repression can also lead to problems, such as feeling guilt for natural desires, even in adolescence.593
Another example of this phenomenon is that the Brazilian Child and Adolescent Statute, even though the age of consent is fourteen, prohibits the production, distribution and consumption of any sexually explicit material involving children or adolescents. This includes, although no one talks about it, sexting between children and adolescents. Sexting is the practice of exchanging sexual messages and sexual images (nudes) over the Internet.594 Now, adolescents are all those who are between twelve and eighteen (Article 2). This means that the seventeen-year-old who gives intimate photos of himself to his girlfriend, who could also seventeen, is a producer and distributor of child pornography, while his girlfriend is the consumer, both punishable by Articles 240 (production), 241-A (transmission) and 241-B (for receiving and storing) of the Brazilian Child and Adolescent Statute. Much of the child pornography currently in circulation is produced and distributed among the little ones themselves.595 Pornography in the hand of minors is not new: Albert Moll, in his paper published in 1912, tells us how, well before the internet, teens were engaged in exchanging pornography (in the form of images, stories, and poems) in schools.596 The youngest person to be investigated for this infraction is a five-year-old boy from the United Kingdom.597 However, there are few critical studies on sexting, despite the attention paid to the phenomenon by the lay population. Still, Canadian campaigns call this practice “self-exploration,” ascribing a negative charge to nudes, despite the fact that there has been no debate about it. Nevertheless, even people who disagree with the practice admit that there is no need for adult seduction to make it happen and that minors are voluntarily producing pornography of themselves.600
While punishing very young people for this adventure seems unnecessary, punishing older people may also seem unnecessary: a man was sentenced to thirty years in prison for taking pictures of his seventeen-year-old girlfriend in Ohio. The age of consent in Ohio is sixteen. For Reason.com columnist, Robby Soave, punishing a person who was dating and perhaps having sex with someone, when both were legally capable of informed consent, just because intimate photos of the partner were taken, is a legal waste.601 One must ask, then, if the minor produces these images and distributes them without being forced or coerced into it, and the person who receives the files (especially if he or she is another minor) does not leak them, where is the victim? If the minor takes pictures of his own sexual activity because he is stimulated by it, even if he does not distribute it, does he still commit an offense for producing the image? According to the literal text of the law, yes, even if the image is never shared. What would be the consequences for the minor if he was punished for it (see secondary victimization)?
One way out of the problem is to instill into sexting practitioners a sense of shame when the photos leak. Now, this is the same as blaming the victim: the girl is shown as a woman who regrets her “mistake” when it is her partner’s fault for betraying her trust, while employing the stereotypical speech of that “boy do those things,” which is prejudice.602 In addition, discouraging erotic interaction between two people by making one sex fear the other is dishonest. If a law needs this feature to work, it is questionable and perhaps illegal because it is generally unfair to boys and men, whereas no government act (including public policy and television advertising) can discriminate between sexes (Federal Constitution, article 5, item I). This is because there is a belief that male sexuality is intrinsically predatory, but this is prejudice.603 This prejudice against men and boys works beyond sexting, helping to maintain the child abuse paradigm: if the number of women in relationships with minors were higher, then relationships between minor and adult would not be seen as problematic, but it is because most of these relationships occur between adult men and girls, they must be problematic because male sexuality is problematic. Recognizing that this is prejudice, many scholars try to work without this presumption, leading to unusual results.604
The same should be true for news about leaking scandals, as many put all men, rather than just the culprit in the act, under a negative light. Finally, it is strange that discussions about sexting exclude the boy. Perhaps because male sexuality is more easily regarded as positive, it would be difficult to justify such a ban if boys were taken into account, since the incidence of trauma by sexting is probably lower among them.
There is a silence in the political class about this phenomenon, although there is a general prohibition, because reforming this law more liberally is equivalent to decriminalizing, even if partially, child pornography, which would be an extremely unpopular position that, in the present moral realm, would tarnish the reputation of any politician in favor of such a proposal.606 The discussion about the legal status of any form of child pornography quickly degenerates into a “battle of good against evil,” allowing politicians to profit from their positions, gaining stability in subsequent elections if the fact is brought to mind (and undermining the position of the opposing parties).
The debate over child pornography, then, becomes both an eagerly anticipated and morbidly feared political event, because those who stand against it will have political security and those who speak for it, even if they really believe that young people should not be prosecuted, will suffer attacks that will undermine their own political stability. As long as this debate does not take place, the general ban on child pornography will continue putting the teenager who sends nudes and the adult who takes pictures of an unwilling child on an almost equal level.607
One could argue that sexting encourages young people to engage in lewd acts, but evidence suggests the opposite: studies conducted in Japan and the Czech Republic show that easily accessible pornography is correlated with a decline in the incidence of sex crimes. For example, a study by Diamond et al. (1999) showed that legalizing sexually explicit material in the Czech Republic was correlated to a drop in sex crimes rates, including rape.608 One may wonder if this question is really relevant, since one does not hear of teenagers or children who commit sex crimes. But it happens: in Morocco, six teenagers raped a woman in a crowded bus.609 If presence of pornography is correlated to a reduction in the incidence of sex crimes, then sexting could not be banned, at least not without careful cost-benefit analysis. This makes it even more difficult to uphold an age of consent of fourteen and a ban on sexting for all children and adolescents: the opposite would make more sense, since the adolescent who is satisfied with pornography is less inclined to have sex.
This not only goes against the idea of childhood “innocence”, since much of the currently circulating child pornography is produced and shared among the minors themselves, but also makes us wonder who the victim is. Why I can have sex at fourteen, but have to wait until my late teens to photograph or record my own sexual activity, even if it’s by myself? 610 Does it make sense to punish this? Is it worth punishing this?611 For many, yes, because photos may leak. Okay, but wouldn’t it make more sense to punish the person who leaks the photo, not the person who shares it in a situation of mutual agreement? According to the NSPCC, at least one in fifty minors have sent nude photos to someone else. This type of offense is rampant and challenges the police’s ability to deal with the problem. Punishing only those who leak the photos is therefore a more realistic goal.
It should be mentioned that the Brazilian Child and Adolescent Statute even punishes simulated acts, in which there is no real child. This may be foreign influence: in the UK, recorded sexual acts between adults can be brought into legal questioning if one of the adults appears to be the minor, even if they are not.613 Moreover, I found no explicit restrictions on photos and videos of children crying, injured or dead in the Brazilian Statute of the Child and Adolescent (I say “explicit” because Article 232 implies the possibility of penalizing those who record a crying child, because it can be argued that it is embarrassing or shameful to be recorded at such vulnerable moment). O’Carroll, on his website, tells us that Facebook has not pulled offline a video in which a woman repeatedly hits a three-year-old boy, but instead only marked the content as “disturbing,” meaning you would have to confirm that you want to watch before the video plays. The video, as of the publication of O’Carroll’s text, was shared over 44,000 times.614
Earlier in this section, we looked at the case of the anti-pornography bill proposed by religious politicians. This bill justified itself with the discourse of protecting adolescent sexuality (by encouraging healthy relationships). But it could very well be an attempt to Christianize adult sexuality. If this is true, and if “youth protection” was used as an excuse to put obstacles on adult sexuality, Robinson’s statement would be proven: the protection of children and adolescents is a device used to cause fear of a certain discourse, in order to capitalize on this fear for political gain.615 In other words, an excuse. This strategy is used when a society’s way of thinking and acting is challenged by forces from outside (such as globalization) or inside (political change). In order to preserve a society’s mode of existence, it is sometimes necessary to stimulate the fear of change. That’s how moralistic discourses and protectionist discourses find convergence: the transgender phenomenon is attacked because it poses a risk to children, homosexuality is attacked, because it poses a risk to children, pornography is attacked because it poses a risk to children, tolerable sexual practices are attacked because they pose a risk to children, among others.616 It is not a matter of protecting children, but a matter of advancing a particular agenda that would find resistance without using this rhetoric.
This agenda is the conservative one, which aims at maintaining the dominant way of thinking and acting, also called “good morals.”617 Inciting fear of the different is a social ordering tactic.618 Child protection is only an instrument, the “face” of movement, not its goal. So much so that such policies can be detrimental to children in the long run.619 In addition, they distract adults from other serious problems affecting children: the same people pushing a child protection agenda are the same people who favor cuts in education and health, which impact children more than sexual expression.620 The emphasis on the moral problem of youth distracts from the material needs of youth: stimulating and enabling social inequality, poverty, environmental degradation, poor schooling, poor health and violence, all those things affect the minors. This is therefore child abuse, even if it is not sexual abuse.621 Noticing that it would affect adults more than it would protect children, a popular response to the anti-pornography bill was organized.622 The bill was defeated.
This bill, with such justification, proves that pornography is attractive both for its value as an instrument in facilitating masturbation and as a means of satisfying the natural sexual curiosity of young people who regularly seek, find and consume pornography for both purposes.623 It also shows that sexual regulation to block adults’ sexual expression can itself as protective regulation. By using the rhetoric of child protection as justification, sexual regulation becomes less likely to receive criticism. Thus, interfering with adult sexual freedom may be acceptable if we use child protection as an excuse for this. Moreover, the fact that adolescents and perhaps children are consuming pornography is not enough to ensure that such a phenomenon should be addressed, as it does not, by itself, guarantee that children and adolescents suffer from exposure to pornography. After all, if they suffered, they would not look for this material and would not discuss it among themselves in such a light-hearted manner.624
As we have seen, laws originally designed to protect our minors can turn against them in the form of an increased incidence of sexual crimes that may even victimize them. More than that, the protection discourse can be used as a cynical mask for the implementation of policies that promote censorship and other removal of freedoms.625 We saw this in the discussion on the anti-pornography bill, but we also noted this phenomenon in the United Nations attempt to abandon the term “child pornography” in favor of the term “child sexual abuse material” and, moreover, include in this category drawings that do not even represent real children. Again censorship, again no victims in sight. Studies suggest that the presence of pornography does not increase sex crime rates, but is correlated with a reduction in the frequency of sex crimes: at least in the case of Japan and the Czech Republic, sex crime rates fell in the period following the legalization of various pornographic works previously considered too obscene to be distributed, including erotic drawings and cartoons.626
This example perfectly illustrates the three points addressed in this section: the implementation of censorship, the cynical use of the child protection cause, and the long-term harm that could come from such a decision. The worst part is that this tactic is employed by the UN itself. It is important to remember that our society, which does not tolerate this kind of image, is the same society that prefers media that shows violence: a Dutch evangelical newspaper advocated filling the empty programming of television with violent films to avoid the opportunity to show erotic films.627 Rather than defending young people from pornography, we should defend them from the overreaction of adults and their efforts to prevent young people from coming into contact with sexuality, even in the form of sex education, even if such adults are their own parents.628
In the context of sex education, the fact that there are minors in precocious sexual relationships shows that “abstinence-only” education is not working. As we saw in the introduction, our concept of childhood is outdated and the defense of this ancient ideal has led to acts of censorship. Such acts of censorship, motivated by panic caused by “immoral” books, do affect school material that could be used in sex education classes: take for example the scandal caused by the book Sexual Apparatus and Co., which was criticized by presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro as part of a “gay kit” whose existence has never even been proven.629 This is serious because there can be no quality education with censorship of necessary content and it is very strange that, in Holland, during the 1980s, even communists opposed to an uncensored sex education. Because of this, school sex education is lagging behind: it no longer reflects the reality of young people.631 Lack of quality sex education is a risk factor for AIDS transmission.632 So sex education cannot focus on abstinence over safe sex. If there are little ones who will break these laws, considering that puberty comes faster with each generation, it must be considered that the law can be broken, damaging the life of the minor, perhaps even forever.633 This means that sex education should be compulsory. But it is also important that sex education stops shying away from discussing as many manifestations of sexual behavior as possible. For example, the media and school, by focusing on the risks of sex, emphasize vaginal sex. For some conservatives, this is necessary to prevent young people from being introduced to risky sexual practices. But this has a side effect: teenagers don’t stop building sexual relationships, they just realize they can’t have vaginal sex. As they have plenty of means to get information, they find that, if vaginal sex is “officially” dangerous, they can do it orally. But oral is also dangerous. No one taught them that, because it is outrageous to talk about oral sex in the classroom. That should be enough to show the importance of sex education. It should be given as soon as possible to prevent the child or adolescent from trying to supply their sexual ignorance with conjecture or the “wisdom” of peers who are just as ignorant. Fortunately, the Internet partially solves this need: even Wikipedia has good articles on sex and various facets of sexuality. It is not ideal, but it is what we have at the moment.
Moreover, if the minor is precocious enough to want to do something penetrative with someone, which is an extreme unlikely situation, he could not obtain protection without reporting himself.636 When he feels he can “get away” with the infraction, he will have unprotected sex. Thus, we need to ask whether it is best for the minor to remain uninformed, “asexual,” exposing her to the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, or informed, “corrupted,” healthy, and blissfully childless. Two things make this situation frustrating. The first is that a large number of teens know about the importance of contraceptives and are willing to use them: condoms are the preferred method, followed by the birth control pill. The second is that, as Levine explained, half of those infected with AIDS contracted the virus before the age of twenty-five.639 Thus, there is a demand and a need for both sex education and means to have safe sex to prevent pregnancy and illness. This demand is made by the adolescents themselves, being one of their needs. Public sexual health policies should be expanded to include minors as well.640 Not meeting this demand is a mistake: our government is more interested in punishing or even shaming than educating and empowering. But why would anyone be against sexual education or safe sex? Because conservatives realize that contraceptive methods, such as birth control pills, reduce the risks implicit in sex (in this case, pregnancy), which weakens society’s moral fiber: sexual intercourse will be stimulated, so that sex becomes more than a means of reproduction, which in turn weakens the idea that sex is a privilege of married people. For conservatives, sex must be dangerous, so young people can abstain. It is therefore a moral motivation, rather than a sanitary one: anyone who is against safe sex acts by morality, not by hygiene concerns.
Moreover, there are moral frameworks that would allow sexual education to be taught to children and adolescents. One of them is utilitarianism, according to which an act is as moral as the more well-being it generates for as many people as possible. Allowing teenagers to have the means to have safe sex minimizes the risk that could arise from the relationship while maintaining pleasure. On the other hand, if you ask a person who says it is wrong to offer such education because it is wrong for a teenager to have sex, he or she may not be able to explain why a relationship is wrong from the moment the participants are not adults. How does the age of those involved make a relationship immoral? What is the moral meaning of age? There seems to be no convincing answer.643
It must be recalled that education must aim at the full development of the person (Federal Constitution, article 205). Now sexuality is a dimension of the person. So sex education should be a curriculum component, something to be taught in schools, because it’s the constitutional thing to do. Moreover, considering that sex education is also a public health issue, it should be on the common national curriculum (elementary and secondary). The effect of this on the age of consent should be obvious, as it will increase the youth’s degree of information, making it possible for adolescents to issue informed consent at an earlier age.
to be raised in an environment that ensures their full development (if it is “full” development, includes sexual development, and there is no clinical reason to prohibit all such contacts, which can be initiated by mutual agreement, such as teen dating and child sex games), according to the Brazilian Statute of the Child and the Adolescent, article 19;
to live with relatives (since a kiss can deprive the child of his own father) according to the same article 19 and according to the Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child, principle 6;
to be punished in a humane manner, without humiliation or ridicule, even when such humiliation comes from those who should protect him, including the government (Brazilian Statute of the Child and Adolescent, article 18-A, item II, points “a” and “c”);
to respect, which includes protection of their physical and mental integrity, as police interventions in consensual relationships harm the minor, causing secondary harm (Brazilian Child and Adolescent Statute, article 17)644;
It may be added here that the literal application of the law is also a violation of the duty to keep children and adolescents safe from vexing, terrifying, violent, inhuman or embarrassing procedures, such as punishment for an act as harmless as it is intimate (article 18).
to freedom, which includes freedom of opinion and expression, in this case during the process that could lead to conviction (it could be argued that a judge who does not listen to the opinion of the minor is not acting correctly, because that reduces the child to an object), according to the Brazilian Statute of the Child and Adolescent, article 16, item II, and Federal Constitution, article 227;
to be treated as a developing human being, because unnecessary legal intervention can have repercussions on their human development and also because children are, in fact, humans (Brazilian Statute of the Child and Adolescent, article 15);
Moreover, the educational measure applied to adolescents cannot be abstracted from this reflection, that is, how intervention affects a developing person (Federal Constitution, article 227, paragraph 3, paragraph V).
to not be treated inhumanly or in a degrading manner (Federal Constitution, article 5, item III);
to respect and to health (which includes mental health, see secondary victimization), according to the Federal Constitution, article 227;
to be protected from violence, because when the relationship is peaceful and harmless but there is an invasive legal breakdown, violence is perpetrated by the authorities (Federal Constitution, article 227);
to have their best interests as a guiding element of legal decisions (Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child, principle 2).
Article 141 of the Brazilian Statute of the Child and Adolescent states that children and adolescents have access to the public defender’s office, the public prosecutor’s office, the judiciary system. Legal assistance should be offered to those who need it, and free of charge, provided that there is no bad faith in the request (Brazilian Statute of the Child and Adolescent, Article 141, as well as paragraphs 1 and 2). Then, the child or adolescent who feels that they have been harmed by the legal apparatus may seek legal aid. A good start would be to argue that sexuality is a fundamental right and therefore a right of everyone, including people with disabilities, who are also considered vulnerable by article 217-A of the Brazilian Penal Code, depending on the disability.645 Parents could also seek this assistance if their child has received disproportionate penalties for the offense.
Precocious sexual contacts can be considered consensual under certain conditions and it is statistically confirmed that in the general population many of these relationships are harmless. In addition, the government and the people have a duty to ensure the physical and mental well being of children and adolescents, but such a heavy law that precludes any lewd act before the age of fourteen not only interferes with such relationships, but can pose problems to the stability of the family. Harmless acts are being stigmatized, as the world is more paranoid, causing a constant flow of false accusations, whether made in bad faith or in error. In both cases, a violation of the natural right to attachment occurs, which also has negative consequences on the emotional state of the child or adolescent. Therefore, the law that typifies these contacts as “rape” can never be applied literally. Its absolute application is arguably a form of oppression which is illegal.646 Precocious sexual contacts do not necessarily involve the violation of rights (which would make them unjust as it is unfair to violate a right), bad motives or exploitation.647 Thus, the total illegalization of this kind of relationship is indefensible. More than that: blind criminalization violates rights already granted to the minor.
Therefore, if children and adolescents should be heard in court, which should ensure the best interests of the alleged victim. We should listen to children, their opinion, their version of the act and their longings. The application of the child sexual abuse law must be relative. What should the law be like then? Fortunately, there is not only one solution to this impasse, but six. It is enough for each person to adopt the position that best fits their political orientation, for example. I will organize the solutions in order, from the easiest to the hardest.
The first solution is the systematic relative application of the application of 217-A of the Brazilian Penal Code, that is, a change in the interpretation of the law, but not in its text. If the child or adolescent is able to prove their consent, the law need not to be applied literally. As we saw in the doctrine of informed consent, consent is valid if the act was voluntary and mutual, in the presence of one of the following two conditions: equal power or sufficient information. First, check whether the act was voluntary, that is, if neither party was forced into sexual contact. If both state that the act was voluntary, we check the age of those involved. If both are less than fourteen years old, there is no power disparity and the risk is negligible, so informed consent would not be necessary, since it is justified only in risky situations. If one is under fourteen and the other is fourteen or older, the level of information of the youngest party shall be assessed.648 If the minor has sufficient information, consent is valid. If the relationship fails in this process, consent is nonexistent or invalid. Consent is also invalid if the act, although voluntary, ended up causing harm: no one consents to harm, that is, the person who has been harmed by his choice proves that he did not have sufficient information or preparation to make the decision that gave rise to the damage.
This is a suggestion of application, the so-called ‘relative application’, as opposed to ‘absolute application’, which represents the thinking of some legal professionals for whom the libidinous act should be punished only if the minor is demonstrably unable to consent, because absolute enforcement jeopardizes the principles of reasonableness, presumption of innocence, minimal intervention, full protection and proportionality.649 If the protected legal property is sexual freedom, a libidinous act that does not violate such freedom in a particular case should not be considered a crime.650 If the legal property that is protected by such a law is the psychological immaturity, the arguments contained in this conclusion and the doctrine of informed consent may at least serve to contend in this matter. Such relative application could be made on the basis of love between the parties. Of course, whenever such thing happens, the more conservative core of society is quick to scream that rape is being legalized.651 Thus, age cannot be the only factor to be taken into account in the acquittal or condemnation of such relationships.652 In practice, what would happen is that those involved would be brought to court, which would decide if the relationship may or may not continue: if the minor is competent to consent and signaled their consent clearly, this consent should be valid and the relationship should be acquitted.653
The second solution is the restriction of the age of consent to penetration only. Only penetrative acts would be subject to it.654 Other sexual acts generally do not pose a huge risk. Thus, they would only be punishable if they were forced or harmful. The age of consent would still be fourteen, but would be limited to penetration. The third solution is the gradual reduction of the age of consent by probing the youth’s level of sexual information. This survey can be done by evaluating the media consumed by children and adolescents, by commissioning polls by institutes such as IBOPE, among other methods. If the level of information rises, the age of consent should be lower.655
The fourth solution is to immediately reduce the age of consent to twelve years. This was already attempted around 2012 as part of the Brazilian Penal Code reform, but it did not work. The justification is that, as we saw in the introduction, the world is “corrupted” and information, including sexual information, spreads so rapidly that it would be hypocritical to keep people between ages 12 and 14 trapped in such a condition when the Brazilian Child and Adolescent Statute itself already considers twelve-year-old people as teenagers, not as children.656 The fifth solution is the abolition of the age of consent, replacing it with parental consent, as is the case with marriage, where parents must either consent to or forbid their child’s marriage plan. This threefold consent needs the volition of the three parties to sustain itself: at the moment when any of the three parties (minor, partner or family power, this last one exercised equally by the legal guardians of the minor) withdraw their consent, the relationship cannot continue. The problem with this solution is that it requires parents to be sexually educated, and if we understand sex education as a holistic education, it is unlikely that parents themselves will had quality sex education.657 Parents would need to be as informed as their children are. The last solution is the abolition, without replacement, of age-of-consent laws. The Communist Party of Great Britain has a similar proposal, arguing that the age of consent is an excessive form of control and that alternative policies against child sexual abuse should be created.658
These are extremely unpopular conclusions and, like all unpopular conclusions, exposing them can cause controversy and damage the image of those who speaks them.659 Nevertheless, I feel that they should be mentioned. In closing, the population today has easy-to-use means of suggesting laws. For example, the Federal Senate e-Cidadania site allows you to suggest legislative ideas.660 After giving your suggestion, others can vote on your suggestion, and if the suggestion gets 20,000 digital signatures from other citizens, it will be sent to the National Commission on Human Rights. Once there, it will be evaluated and, if it receives a favorable opinion, it will be sent to our Congress, where it will be debated between the Deputies and Senators. The idea might become a law. To use this system, it is enough to have an individual registration, which theoretically also enables children and adolescents to participate. There have already been two legislative ideas calling for changes in the age of consent, but both failed due to lack of support. If you think the age of consent law needs to be reformed, that would be a good start, but it would be useless without the support of a large part of the population. This support is needed to advance any idea in a democratic environment.
Even if one does not want to change the age of consent, this text has touched on other issues that must be addressed.
Child sexuality and our relationship with it.
The gradual rejection of childhood experiences that we ourselves may have had in our childhoods.
The relationship that other cultures have with child sexuality.
The rejection of innocence by minors themselves.
The acceleration of puberty.
The ease with which minors access sexual information.
The need for empowerment of children and adolescents.
The need for sex education.
Feminism as a sexually conservative movement.
Minors who refuse to be called victims when the law says they are.
The need for studies with samples from the general population rather than clinical or forensic samples.
The demonization of men, the overprotection of the girls and the silencing of boys.
The ease and impunity with which false accusations are made.
The damage caused by the state machine in the management of minors in precocious sexual relationships or who have been sexually abused.
The risk of poorly conducted forensic interviews.
The possibility of iatrogenic damage.
Growing paranoia in the general population.
The disproportionate penalties of different crimes.
The relationship between sexual repression and increased violence.
The sexual inaptitude of the next generation.
The production, sharing and consumption of pornography among minors.
The use of child protection as a mask for the implementation of conservative policies, such as censorship.
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1 Paraphrased in Reena & Giardino, 2013, page 401 to 402.
2 According to the paraphrase of Borneman (Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 197).
3 See “You won’t get a color television if you don’t stop seeing Niels”, in Trobriands, 1986, volume 1. See quote from Bloomingdale (Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 250). See data collected by Kilpatrick in Levine, 2002, page 86. For an example and analysis, see O’Carroll, 2018. https://archive.fo/Kxr9H
4 Costa, 2015, pages 266 and 267.
5 Egan, 2015, page 108.
6 For examples of adolescent sexual activity, see Fontenberry, 2013, pages 182 and 183.
7 Children’s curiosity is also commented and criticized in Levine, 2002, page 7, where the author says that “curiosity” may just be a euphemism for “pleasure seeking behavior“. Also see Drury & Bukowsky, 2013, pages 119 and 120.
8 Fontenberry, 2013, page 182.
9 Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, pages 19 and 24.
10 Kincaid, 1992, page 172. See also Levine, 2002, pages xix and xx. Also see O’Carroll, 2018.
11 Drury & Bukowsky, 2013, pages 120 and 121. Robinson, 2013, pages 10 and 11.
12 See O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 2. See Petersen, 1986. See also Robinson, 2013, page 87.
13 Wilson, 1981, chapter 6. See Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 130. Petersen, 1986. See Kincaid, 1992, page 175. Campbell et al., 2013, pages 153 and 154.
14 See Petersen, 1986. See Egan, 2015, page 108.
15 See quote from Bender and Blau for a concrete case, in O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 2. Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 193 and Hertoft’s paraphrase on page 196.
16 See paraphrase of Dort (Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 195).
17 See data obtained by Ramsey, as shown by O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 2. See Wilson, 1981, chapter 6. Campbell et al., 2013, page 156. See also Robinson, 2013, page 138.
18 Moll, 1912, page 171. Levine, 2002, page 180. See also Renold, 2005, page 128, for the somewhat comical account of a boy who had an erection during a sex education class. See Campbell et al., 2013, page 153.
20 Moll, 1912, page 88. See quotes from Kinsey in O’Carroll, 1980, chapters 2. See also chapter 3 of the same book. Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 130. Campbell et al., 2013, page 153.
21 See paraphrase of Yankowski (Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 131).
22 Egan, 2015, page 109.
23 Moll, 1912, pages 111 and 112.
Campbell et al., 2013, page 145.
25 See O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 2.
26 See quotation by Kerscher (Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 171).
27 See Campbell et al., 2013, page 153.
Campbell et al., 2013, page 155.
29 Petersen, 1986. Campbell et al., 2013, page 154. Egan, 2015, pages 109 and 110.
30 For an example narrated by the children themselves who participated in the “bottle game” at a birthday party, see Renold, 2005, page 111.
31 See Renold 2005, pages 37 and 38. See also Fontenberry, 2013, page 185.
32 See Campbell et al., 2013, pages 156 and 157.
33 See Fontenberry, 2013, page 184.
34 For a description of teen dating, see Drury & Bukowsky, 2013, pages 131 and 132.
35 This separation may have the opposite effect (see Renold, 2005, pages 136 and 137).
36 See Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, pages 24, 26 and 27.
37 See Renold, 2005, pages 33 and 94.
38 Levine, 2002, page 55. For an example of how children hide their mischief, see Renold, 2005, page 110.
39 If these experiences are sexual in character, it is usually limited to kissing, hugging, showing off, and intimate caresses, which in themselves are harmless. See Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 9. But the sexual element is often absent. A description of what child dating means can be found in Renold, 2005, pages 95 and 96. See also some boys’ opinions on peer dating on pages 125 and 126.
40 See Levine, 2002, page 163. Tolman et al., 2015, pages 83 and 84.
41 See Herriot & Hiseler, 2015, page 298.
42 To illustrate, compare the pleasant experience in Renold, 2005, page 111, with the experience of harassment in the same book, on page 113.
44 See Tindall, 1978, pages 373 and 374.
46 Petersen, 1986.
47 Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 1.
48 See Wilson, 1981, chapter 7.
49 Petersen, 1986. See also Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 334. A similar custom in which parents look for a reputable man to initiate their child into adulthood (including sexually) exists in Papua New Guinea, India and Melanesia (Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg, 1991, page 17).
50 See quotes from Plato in Brongersma 1986, volume 1, page 249.
52 Wilson, 1981, chapter 7.
53 Petersen, 1986.
54 It is important to point out “explicitly” because, as noted by Stephen Kershnar, the Holy Bible does not explicitly prohibit relationships, for example, between adults and minors (Kershnar, 2015, page 32). Historical evidence even suggests that Mary married Joseph at twelve, and Joseph could have been an adult or a teenager. https://discover-the-truth.com/2013/09/30/marriage-of-mary-to-joseph-the-carpenter/
55 Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 19.
56 Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 174.
57 See Sandfort et al., 1990, page 9. Levine, 2002, pages xxxi and xxxii. https://discover-the-truth.com/2013/09/09/age-of-consent-in-european-american-history/ https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/09/13/ the-age-of-consent-laws-in-america-1800s /
58 Killias, 1991, pages 41 to 44. Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 1.
59 See Herriot & Hiseler, 2015, pages 291 to 293, about how even documentary films, which are supposed to be scientific, promote this lack of information.
60 See Renold, 2005, page 20.
61 See Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 1. See Bagemihl and Idani’s paraphrase in Rind, 2016, about bonobos and subsequent commentary.
62 See citation in Moll, 1912, page 100. See also commentary on Groos, page 102. See paraphrase of Ford and Beach, in Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 171.
63 Jackson & Scott, 2015, pages 47, 48 and 50.
64 See Karaian, 2015, page 345. Herriot & Hiseler, 2015, pages 293 and 294.
65 See Herriot & Hiseler, 2015, page 299.
66 Rind, 2001.
67 Renold, 2005, pages 23 and 24.
68 Mulholland, 2015, page 322.
69 See Levine, 2002, pages xxxii, 26, and 27. It seems that such an ideal dates from the nineteenth century, according to Mulholland, 2015, page 323.
70 Mulholland, 2015, pages 322, 324 and 325.
71 See Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 1 and paraphrases.
72 This exhibition on the origin of asexuality is a paraphrase of what is written in Levine, 2002, xxvii and xxviii. An explanation about the concept of adolescence can be found on page xxix.
73 See O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 2.
74 Levine, 2002, pages xxix and xxx.
75 Levine, 2002, page xxxi.
76 Drury & Bukowsky, 2013, page 127.
77 Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg, 1991, page 13. See also page 15.
78 See quotes from Ford and Beach in O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 2.
79 See quotation by Bettelheim, Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 171.
80 See Elwin’s paraphrase (Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 172).
81 As quoted by Ford and Beach, in O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 2.
82 See O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 2. For a better explanation, see Drury & Bukowsky, 2013, pages 127 and 128.
83 For more information on such cultures, see quote from Ford and Beach, in O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 2, and commentary. Sandfort et al., 1990, page 6.
84 See Petersen 1986. See quotation by Langfeldt, in Brongersma 1986 volume 1 page 172. See Kincaid, 1992, page 176. Renold, 2005, pages 17, 21 and 22. See Drury & Bukowsky 2013 pages 124 and 125. See Egan, 2015, pages 107 and 108
85 To see how extreme such love can be, read Moll, 1912, pages 74 and 75. Levine, 2002, page 55, also points out that children and adolescents fall in love with each other. See Renold, 2005, page 101, where Claire says she cried for four days after Tom left her to be with other girls, and page 102 for analysis of the phenomenon, as well as pages 137 and 138, where something similar occurs with Sophie regarding Todd. See also Robinson, 2013, pages 98 and 99. Robinson & Davies, 2015, pages 182 and 183.
86 Nelson, 1989.
87 Robinson, 2013, page 99.
88 Moll, 1912, pages 77. See also page 88.
89 See paraphrase of O’Carroll (Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 14).
90 Renold, 2005, pages 35, 138, and 139, especially the latter, where Pete describes dating as a degustation of an upcoming marriage. See also Robinson, 2013, pages 87 and 88.
91 See Moll, 1912, page 85.
92 According to quote by Best, in Renold, 2005, page 32, children and adolescents understand that the adult world must remain ignorant of child sexuality, so they learn to hide these activities. Campbell et al., 2013, page 155, for confirmation. See also Robinson, 2013, pages 126 and 127.
93 Tolman et al., 2015, page 83.
94 Kincaid, 1992, page 174.
95 See Jackson & Scott, 2015, page 50.
96 To see how moral panic can assume racist contours, see Bhana, 2015, page 194. See Harvey & Ringrose, 2015, page 353. For a description of the characteristics of these hysterical feelings, see Jackson & Scott, 2015, pages 48, 49 and 51. http://exitinterview.biz/doitnow/index.htm
97 Tolman et al., 2015, pages 74 to 76.
98 See, for example, Renold, 2005, pages 44 and 45.
99 Renold, 2005, pages 43, 46, 47 and 94. See also Robinson, 2013, page 96.
100 Note, however, that other studies point out that relationships for status are infrequent compared to affection-based relationships (see Giese and Schmidt’s paraphrase in Brongersma 1986, volume 1, page 199). Renold, 2005, pages 107 and 108. See also Robinson, 2013, page 127.
101 Renold, 2005, page 23 and citations. See also page 49.
102 See Renold, 2005, page 99. Allen & Ingram, 2015, page 154.
103 Renold, 2005, pages 49 to 51.
104 Renold, 2005, page 47.
105 Compare with Renold, 2005, page 120. Such evidence can be photographs and records in the cellphone (see Harvey & Ringrose, 2015, page 361 and 362).
106 Historically, the muscular boy was held in high regard in ancient Greece, serving as a model for sculptures (see Wilson, 1981, chapter 7).
107 Harvey & Ringrose, 2015, page 359.
108 Campbell et al., 2013, page 145. See Bukowsky & Drury, 2013, pages 120 and 121.
110 Sparrman, 2015, pages 129 and 130.
111 On the Internet specifically, see Levine, 2002, pages 143 to 150. Campbell et al., 2013, page 155.
112 Mulholland, 2015, page 324.
113 A slightly longer discussion of how child and adult sexuality compare can be found in Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, pages 128 and 129. Sparrman, 2015, pages 136 and 137.
114 See Robinson, 2013, pages 137 and 138.
115 See Leahy, 1991, page 43. Herriot & Hiseler, 2015, pages 290 and 291.
116 In Levine, 2002, page 70, we see that even the Internet was blamed for a teenage dating affair. Mulholland, 2015, page 335. Herriot & Hiseler, 2015, page 292.
117 As quoted by Kilpatrick, Levine, 2002, page 55.
118 Wilson, 1981, chapter 6. Herriot & Hiseler, 2015, page 293.
119 Allen & Ingram, 2015, page 154.
120 Robinson & Davies, 2015, page 183.
121 Renold, 2005, page 110.
122 Renold, 2005, pages 104 and 105.
123 Renold, 2005, pages 126 and 127.
124 Renold, 2005, page 127.
125 Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 225.
126 Renold, 2005, pages 140 and 141.
127 Moll, 1912, page 30.
128 http://g1.globo.com/brasil/noticia/2012/05/tribunals-absorb-sex-accused-with-sorry-new-lei.html http: //www.solresearch. org / report / Criminalizing_Childs_Play http://www.solresearch.org/report/Cases_of_Persecuted_Juvenile_Sexual_Activity https://jus.com/articles/51449/o-estupro-consensual-de-vulneravel-entre-adolescentes-menores-de- 14-and-over-12-year-olds-typical-or-not
129 Allen & Ingram, 2015, page 150.
130 See Robinson, 2013, pages 123, 124 and 125.
131 Robinson, 2013, pages 96 and 97.
133 Renold, 2005, page 127.
134 Fanetti et al., 2013, page 348.
135 See quote from Killias (Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 225) and Kentler’s paraphrase (page 226). Other ways used to learn about sex are reported in Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 223.
136 See Levine, 2002, page 43. A reflection on the monetary cost of criminalizing consensual relationships between adults and minors can be found in Kershnar, 2015, page 115.
137 See The Judge: “The emotions involved should be kept at a suitable level for the child,” in Trobriands, 1986, volume 1, for a judge’s comment on adult/minor relationships, in which he says that the minor’s judgment of the experience is not important for the establishment of a conviction. See also Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, pages 40 and 41.
139 See Clancy, 2009, page 154.
140 Jackson & Scott, 2015, page 39.
141 Jackson & Scott, 2015, page 52.
142 See Bhana, 2015, page 193.
144 See Leahy, 1991, pages 39 and 40. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/heartbreaking-poems-reveal-pain-of-children-with-parents-in-prison-a4127456.html
145 See Kincaid, 1992, pages 354 and 355.
146 Drury & Bukowsky, 2013, page 115.
147 For example, for Drury & Bukowsky, 2013, page 116, even feelings and emotions can be considered sexual, despite not being acted out.
149 Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 19.
150 See Levine, 2002, page 41.
151 See paraphrase of Straver and Geeraert (Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 132).
152 In the case of homosexual boys, looking for relationships around this age is seen as a way to better understand their own sexuality. See Leahy, 1991, page 149.
153 Renold, 2005, page 51. For a list of signs of puberty, see the reproduction of the Tanner scale in Reena & Giardino, 2013, pages 410 and 411.
154 See Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 13.
155 This is also a view shared by adolescents themselves (see Leahy 1991, pages 178 and 179). Fontenberry, 2013, page 185.
156 Campbell et al., 2013, page 147. Fontenberry, 2013, page 186.
157 See Campbell et al., 2013, page 149.
158 Paraphrased in Campbell et al., 2013, page 148.
159 See Campbell et al., 2013, page 149 and 150.
160 See Campbell et al., 2013, pages 150 and 151.
161 See Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 176.
162 See Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, pages 196-199.
163 See Richard’s quotes in O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 9. According to Gieser and Schmidt’s paraphrase, in Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 199, 41% of precocious sexual contacts occur to show affection for the partner. See also Leahy, 1991, page 174.
164 See Robinson, 2013, page 7.
165 See Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, pages 130 and 131.
166 Bernard, 1985, chapter II.
167 Robinson, 2013, pages 38 and 39.
168 Robinson, 2013, pages 9 and 10.
169 Robinson, 2013, page 10.
170 O’Carroll, 2018.
171 See Levine, 2002, page xxxiv.
172 Lavin, 2013, pages 10 and 11.
173 See Levine, 2002, page xxxii.
174 As Lavin himself, 2013, page 12, would agree.
175 See O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 8. See Herriot & Hiseler, 2015, page 293. The Latin etymological origin of the word “consent” is literally translatable as “feeling together.” https://www.etymonline.com/word/consent
176 Clancy, 2009, page 73.
177 See Karaian, 2015, pages 344 and 345. See Herriot & Hiseler, 2015, page 292.
178 See Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, pages 13 and 14. Lavin, 2013, page 5.
179 See account by Dave Douglass, in Rivas 2016, page 228.
180 See discussion of power disparity in the family, in O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 9.
181 More on seduction can be found in quotes from the Speijer Committee, in O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 8. See also Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 31. See Malón, 2015, page 1075.
182 See Herriot & Hiseler, 2015, page 299.
183 See O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 9. Constantine, 1981. See also Sandfort, 1983, page 181, where the author describes the experience of minors in relationships with adults. In these experiences, minors claim that the adults they like are quite friendly, with parents and teachers being the ones who most often force these minors to do things against their will. See paraphrase of Hinde on the same page. Leahy, 1991, page 27. See also Malón, 2015, page 1077.
184 Wilson, 1981, chapter 9.
185 Lavin, 2013, page 5, describes informed consent for medical procedures without resorting on power equality as an argument, but “free choice” instead, which is implicit in power equality.
186 Kershnar, 2015, page 63. See also Karaian, 2015, pages 343 and 344.
187 Sandfort, 1987, chapter 1. See Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, pages 32 and 34. See also Leahy, 1991, page 176.
188Such subversion was a typical theme in classical Greek stories (see Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, pages 37 and 38). For Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 28, the attitude of Penal Codes to not protect sexual self-determination is immoral. He also mentions, on page 28, that the Dutch Penal Code of his day did not punish a husband who violated his wife’s consent (raped her), but punished a consensual relationship in which one of the participants was under the age of fifteen. On self-determination, see Wilson, 1981, chapter 9, and Leahy, 1991, pages 60, 61, and 180. Self-determination is in line with the moral theory according to which the purpose of the law is to protect choice by ensuring that no one will be forced into anything. Repressing self-determination is possible only if such a right conflicts with other interests of the child (the so-called protection of their best interests, see Kershnar, 2015, pages 34 and 35). Mulya, 2018.
189 There are criteria for the evaluation of testimony, (see Trobriands, 1986, volume 1). See also discussion in Fanetti et al., 2013, pages 347 to 349.
190 Refusal to participate as a means of stopping an attempt at seduction is also noted by Burgess and colleagues, as quoted in O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 8. See also Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 35. Lahtinen et al., 2018, page 93.
191 In Clancy, 2009, page 46, the author notes that many children who have sexual relationships with adults do not know why such a relationship would be wrong. And indeed, if you were a child and had superficial, peaceful, voluntary sexual contact, how could you suspect that such thing is a widely disapproved act that turns you into a victim? Again, ignorance generates vulnerability.
192 See Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 35. It is interesting to remember that many children know that, when threatened by an adult man, they can kick the aggressor in the scrotum (Renold, 2005, page 114). Regarding “saying no”, see Clancy, 2009, page 139. Miltenberger & Hanratty, 2013, pages 421 and 422.
193 Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 221. See also quotation by Constantine, page 222.
194 See the reflection on power dynamics, in O’Carroll 1980, chapter 9.
195 Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, pages 38 and 39.
196 Lavin, 2013, page 6.
198 Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 14.
199 See Lavin, 2013, page 5.
202 Although, depending on the libidinous act, for example, an intimate caress, the incident may be less risky than skating. See Levine, 2002, page xxvii.
203 Lavin, 2013, page 6, also states that the ability to consent grows as the child grows.
204 See O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 8.
205 Kershnar, 2015, page 35.
207 See Moll, 1912, pages 201, 202, 205, and 206. Compare with The Judge: “the emotions involved should be kept to a suitable level for the child,” in Trobriands, 1986, volume 1, in which we read that, at least in Denmark, in the 1980s, the minor’s sexual experience was irrelevant. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpizXYHD41s http://g1.globo.com/brasil/noticia/2012/05/absorbem-accused-of-sexo-with-menor-apesar-de -new law.html
208 Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, pages 34 and 35.
210 See comment to Malón, in O’Carroll, 2018.
211 Trobriands, 1986.
213 See Kershnar, 2015, page 113.
214 O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 8. Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 13. Kershnar, 2015, pages 36, 41 and 42. See Malón, 2015, page 1077.
215 See Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 39.
216 Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 175.
217 Although power disparity does not invalidate the quality of some experiments, as explained in “I suspect he’ll go with my little brother later” (Trobriands, 1986, volume 1) and O’Carroll, 2018.
218 See Leahy, 1991, page 59.
220 Kershnar, 2015, pages 37 to 39.
221 Malón, 2015, page 1077.
222 Sandfort, 1987, chapter 1. Jackson & Scott, 2015, page 50.
223 See paraphrase of Duvert, Constantine, Wright, Geiser and Baurmann, in Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 40. Clancy, 2009, pages 42 to 43 and 137.
224 The idea that she should always listen to what adults say was an element that made Erin vulnerable to the sexual advances of an adult (Clancy, 2009, pages 30 and 31).
226 Levine, 2002, pages 44, 182 and 183. In Clancy, 2009, page 194, we see the story of a girl who did not let her pediatrician examine her because she had learned in a book that no adult should touch a child’s genitals. See Mulya, 2018.
227 Robinson, 2013, page 55.
228 On the types of sexual contact between adult and minor and the existence of women who engage in sex with minors, see especially Bernard, 1985, chapter II. See Condy et al., 1987, pages 390 and 393. See also Bauserman & Rind, 1997, page 124. https://blastingnews.com/curiosities/2018/01/women-sexually-abuse-boy- inside-car- and-publish-spicy-photos-002271081.html https://noticias.r7.com/international/woman-of-35-years-and-accused-of-about-of-boy- -12-years-for- eight-months-us-15082013 https://noticias.uol.com.br/Daily life/ultimas-noticias/2013/03/13/diarista-de-44-anos-e- suspected-of-abusing-5-boy -in-franca-sp.htm https://freelance24hours.blogspot.com/2016/09/women-abuse-sexually-of-4.html.html
229 See Robinson, 2013, page 96.
230 Robinson, 2013, page 42.
231 See Robinson, 2013, pages 5 and 6, where this vigilance and the reasons behind it are detailed.
232 Robinson, 2013, page 7.
233 Robinson, 2013, page 11.
234 Rivas, 2016, pages 275 and 276.
236 Herriot & Hiseler, 2015, page 292.
239 Sutor, on his trip to China, was shocked to see that children as young as seven had profound knowledge about things that our society considers “obscene,” such knowledge gained from their own parents (see quotation in Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 224). If a child can learn such matters, why couldn’t the teenager?
240 Robinson, 2013, page 87.
241 See Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, pages 12 and 13.
242 See Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 19.
243 Although such rituals do not exist in the West, some young people who had sexual contacts with adults describe their relationships as “initiation” into adult sexual life (Leahy, 1991, page 28).
244 Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg, 1991, page 13.
245 Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg, 1991, pages 16, 18 and 19.
246 Moll, 1912, pages 111 and 112.
247 Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 220.
248 Moll, 1912, page 112. Wilson, 1981, chapter 9.
249 Moll, 1912, pages 104 and 105.
250 For Lavin, 2013, page 3, it is also true in medical treatments, in which the child welfare takes precedence over his desire to be treated or not.
251 For a deeper assessment of the “normalization” of childhood vulnerability, see Mulya, 2018.
252 See O’Carroll, 1980, chapters 6 and 9. http://exitinterview.biz/essays/compchld/index.htm
253 See, for example Rind & Welter, 2013.
254 Madill, 2015, page 276.
255 See O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 6. See Bernard, 1985, chapter II.
256 Read Mulya, 2018.
257 For various examples, see O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 2, and Petersen, 1986. See also Killias, 1991, pages 44 and 45, where it is also explained that preindustrial societies can also be sexually repressive if it means less consumption of resources (population control).
258 See Mulya, 2018.
259 For a comparison of violent relationships and voluntary relationships, see Frederiksen, 1986.
260 Ulrich et al., 2005-2006, page 37. Clancy, 2009, pages 91 and 95. Robinson, 2013, pages 6 and 7. See Rind & Welter, 2013. See also Jackson & Scott, 2015, page 39.
261 Clancy, 2009, pages 80, 83 and 84.
262 See Nelson, 1989. Rind, 2001. See Clancy, 2009, pages 91 and 92.
263 Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 41.
264 Wilson, 1981, chapter 8. See Sandfort, 1987, chapter 1. Nelson, 1989.
265 See quote by Rose, in Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 258, as well as paraphrase of Ullerstam, volume 2, page 12. Some of these circumstances are listed in Levine, 2002, pages xxxiii and xxxiv. See also Rind & Welter, 2013. Mulya, 2018.
266 See Lindy Burton’s conclusion, cited in O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 3. See also Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 9. Rind et al., 1998, page 44. Susan Clancy reports that her study on child sexual abuse found evidence of trauma, force or threat only in 10% of its sample (Clancy, 2009, page 37). Because of this and because the children did not see what was happening as wrong at the time it happened, although they still considered it suspicious, most offered no resistance (page 41).
267 Bernard, 1985, chapter II.
268 See comment and quote in Clancy, 2009, page 59.
269 See Clancy, 2009, pages 63 to 65 and 68. Also read pages 109, 145, 147, 187, and 188 of the same work.
270 Fontenberry, 2013, page 171.
271 Frederiksen, 1986. Susan Clancy, when discussing the findings of her study with clinical psychologists, thought his sample had a problem because most of the studied subjects had not experienced trauma after precocious sexual experiences. She then looked for national probability studies and found that there was no problem with her sample at all (Clancy, 2009, pages 48 and 49). This means that, in the general population, precocious sexual contact is not traumatic most of the time (which does not mean it is always positive or always harmless). This caused a deep astonishment in Clancy, who happens to be a clinical psychologist.
272 Kilpatrick, 1987, pages 176 and 177.
273 One of the revised studies to create this synthesis is Sandfort, 1983, which, on page 166, admits that his sample, with 25 subjects outside the clinical population, is not generalizable.
274 Sandfort, 1983, page 165. Kilpatrick, 1987, page 177.
275 See Kincaid, 1992, page 387.
276 See quotation by De Young, in Nelson, 1989.
277 Tolman et al., 2015, page 78.
278 See Herriot & Hiseler, 2015, page 299.
279 Compare with Condy et al., 1987, page 392. Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 9.
280 In Constantine, 1981, we see other examples of studies that looked only for negative effects, rather than appraising both sides of the phenomenon.
281 See Bauserman & Rind, 1997, page 106.
282 Kilpatrick, 1987, pages 174 to 176.
283 Clancy, 2009, page 93.
284 See Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 3.
285 Clancy, 2009, page 23.
286 O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 3. Rind & Bauserman, 1993, pages 266 to 268.
287 O’Carroll, 2018.
289 The prevalence reported by Stoltenborgh and his colleagues was 18% for women and 8% for men, according to paraphrase found in Korkman et al., 2018, page 1.
290 The adult life of Erin is so intense and successful that no one could say with certainty that she had sexual contacts with an adult when she was a kid (Clancy, 2009, page 25).
291 See Money & Weinrich, 1983. See also Sandfort, 1983, pages 179 and 180. See also Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 3. See Ulrich et al., 2005-2006, page 38.
292 Ulrich et al., 2005-2006, pages 38, 44, 45 and 47. O’Carroll, 2018.
293 See Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 9.
294 Because of the taboo, not even science asks about the juvenile’s judgment of the experience (see Fontenberry, 2013, page 185).
295 See Robinson, 2013, page 11.
296 Nelson, 1989. A good environmental reaction also minimizes the damage that arises from negative relationships (Clancy, 2009, page 173).
297 See Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 8.
298 See Constantine, 1981.
299 About this, it is interesting to see what Clancy, 2009, says on page 49.
300 See Leahy, 1991, page 25. For an example of how a precocious sexual experience can improve the minor’s self-esteem, see account by “Daniel”, in Mulya, 2018.
301 See quote from Henderson, in Nelson, 1989. This statement is made in Fanetti et al., 2013, pages 357, where the author says that “positive sexual contact” does not refer to developmental benefit, but only to the minor’s particular interpretation of the fact.
302 See Rind & Welter, 2013.
303 For the experience of a twelve year old boy who had voluntary penetrative sex with an adult woman, in which the woman didn’t become pregnant thanks to her use of birth control methods, see Mulya, 2018.
305 Pages 274 and 275.
306 Pages 271 and 275.
307 Page 277.
308 Page 272.
309 See page 272.
310 Pages 276 and 277.
311 See Constantine, 1981. See also Wilson, 1981, chapter 8. See also paraphrase of Eve Carlson, in Clancy, 2009, page 61, and quotation by Margaret Hagan, on page 62. On pages 99 and 100 of the same work, there’s a description of the conditions that trigger posttraumatic stress: the experience has to be traumatic at the time it occurred, which implies anxiety or danger, such as the risk of death, in order to make the causal link between experience and symptomatic manifestation. A situation without these elements is not traumatic and will likely result in an asymptomatic subject. Therefore, a precocious relationship must be violent to be traumatic.
312 Page 272. See Frederiksen, 1986. See also Bauserman & Rind, 1997 pages 118 to 121, especially paraphrase of Baker and Duncan, on page 119, and commentary on Tindall’s work, on page 121.
313 Pages 84 and 86 to 87. Interviewing children directly is endorsed by Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 9.
314 Page 88.
315 Compare with data obtained by Paul Okami, reproduced in Clancy, 2009, page 58.
316 Page 89. Compare with data obtained by Lindy Burton, commented on O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 3.
317 Page 88.
318 Clancy, 2009, page 150.
319 See paraphrases of West and Sandfort, in Brongersma, 1986 volume 2, page 335. See also pages 337 to 339 of the same work.
320 Some children do not report because they think adults do not believe what they are going to say, but as they see that adults do believe they gradually reveal more details (Reena & Giardino, 2013, page 403).
321 Page 89.
322 Such distortion causes fear in the population and fear is profitable (according to paraphrase of Barry Glassner, in Clancy, 2009, page 104).
323 Pages 3 and 4.
324 Page 1.
325 Pages 4 and 5. This is also observed in boys (Wilson, 1981, chapter 6).
326 Pages 5 and 6. See, however, page 8.
327 Pages 6 and 7.
328 Pages 7 and 8.
329 Page 5. Teenage homosexuals may also look for adult men for the same reason. See Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, pages 247. Another reason may be curiosity and even passion, according to page 249 of the same work and quotation by Baudry on the same page. See also page 251.
330 See paraphrase of Nkosana and Rosenthal, on page 7.
331 chapter 4.
332 Almost the same percentage found in the Kinsey report. See commentary on the Kinsey report in O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 2.
333 chapter 5.
334 chapter 5.
335 chapter 5. See also data compiled by Schultz, quoted in O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 2.
336 chapter 6.
337 chapter 7.
338 chapter 7.
339 chapter 7.
340 chapter 8. See also chapter 9.
341 chapter 9. See also quote from Rogier, Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 40.
342 Page 36.
343 Page 44.
344 Ulrich et al., 2005-2006, pages 37 to 39 and pages 42 and 46.
346 Page 379.
347 Page 391.
348 Pages 380 and 381.
349 Page 381.
350 Page 383.
351 Page 384.
352 Page 385.
353 Page 387.
354 Page 388.
355 Page 113.
356 Page 114.
357 See tables on pages 115 and 116.
358 Page 129.
359 Page 122.
360 Pages 122 and 123.
361 Page 123.
362 Page 124.
363 Pages 125 and 126.
364 Pages 126 and 127. See also secondary victimization.
365 Pages 128 and 129.
366 Page 129.
367 Page 131 See secondary victimization.
368 Pages 363, 364 and 366.
369 Page 365.
370 Pages 364 and 365.
371 Page 364.
372 Pages 366 to 369.
373 and 369.
374 Compare with Clancy, 2009, pages 184 and 185.
375 Page 370.
376 Page 363.
377 Page 370.
378 Page 370.
379 Bernard, 1985, chapter II. See Frederiksen, 1986. See Kincaid, 1992, page 387. Further studies can be found in a synthesis by Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 3. This may be true even in the case of abusive relationships (Clancy, 2009, pages 179 to 181).
380 An attempt at conceptual differentiation is made by Brant and Tisza, according to quote by them in Wilson, 1981, chapter 8. Sandfort, 1987, chapter 3. Bauserman & Rind, 1997, pages 128, 136, and 137. See quotation by Finkelhor, in Clancy, 2009, page 60, and pages 96 and 176 of the same work. Kershnar, 2015, pages 42 and 83.
381 Clancy, 2009, page 198.
382 Clancy, 2009, page 107.
383 Clancy, 2009, pages 75, 77 to 79, 107, 138 and 182 to 183.
384 See Clancy, 2009, pages 108, 186 and 199 to 201.
385 See Tindall, 1978, page 382. See Constantine, 1981.
386 See commentary on Finkelhor and Russell’s studies, in Leahy 1991, pages 7 and 8.
387 Carballo-Diéguez et al., 2011, page 371. Dolezal et al., 2014, page 277.
388 Because of this, studies done in a region should be replicated in another, so that the data, when compared, show a broader picture of the phenomenon, considering the cultural differences (see Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 9). See quote by Parker in Dolezal et al., 2014, page 272. See also Rind, 2016.
389 Clancy, 2009, page 94. Rind & Welter, 2013. See paraphrases of Clancy and Jenkins, in Rind, 2016.
390 Carballo-Diéguez et al., 2011, page 371.
391 Clancy, 2009, pages 201 and 202.
392See Sandfort, 1983, page 164, on how such relationships can have little meaning in the minor’s life, which may help explain the very low reporting rate. Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 272 and volume 2, page 35. Guilt is also a reason to keep such relationship a secret (see Leahy 1991, page 62). In Clancy, 2009, page 140, we see that abusive sexual relationships can be ignored even by people who are supposed to help the victim when such a victim looks “alright” and affirms that the contact didn’t happen against their will. But see also page 159 of the same work. In Korkman et al., 2018, page 5, we see data collected from a sample of adolescents showing that the prevalence of sexual contact with people at least five years older is 3.6% for girls and 1% for boys, but less than a sixth of such cases were notified to the police. On page 7 of the same work, we see that while the proportion of sexual contact with people at least five years older is higher when the same data is sampled from adults, the reporting rate is still less than 14%. See also Lahtinen et al., 2018, page 92.
393 According to Borneman (Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 198).
394 Sandfort et al., 1990, page 6. See quote by Vincent de Francis, in Clancy, 2009, page 88.
395 Moll, 1912, page 201. See also Wilson, 1981, chapter 6.
396 Levine, 2002, pages 180 and 181.
397 Some scholars have attempted to reconcile the absence of harm with the child abuse paradigm by creating the concept of “participating victim”: the child is a victim, but of the “voluntary” kind (see O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 3). See Constantine, 1981, especially the section on participation and initiative. See Money & Weinrich, 1983. Bernard, 1985, chapter II. Kincaid, 1992, page 387. O’Carroll, 2018. See also reports in Mulya, 2018, for a comparison of forced sexual encounters with voluntary sexual encounters. http://consentingjuveniles.com/
398 See quotation by Gibbens and Prince, in O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 3.
399 See Constantine, 1981. Note, however, that such sexual contacts would not be considered immoral only from a strictly consequentialist point of view and that arguments from other moral frameworks could still apply (see Kershnar, 2015, page 82).
400 See Kershnar, 2015, pages 58 and 59.
401 See Sandfort, 1987, chapter 1. See also Mulya, 2018.
This is a type of purely linguistic victimization, in which the concept of child, as it incorporates the concept of asexuality, which is foreign to it, overcomes the reality of child sexuality, leading to over-monitoring of child sexual behavior. See Landstrøn et al., 2017, page 14.
403 Mulya, 2018.
404 See Ulrich et al., 2005-2006, page 48. See also Tolman et al., 2015, page 79.
405 See Clancy, 2009, pages 69 and 70, for a more pessimistic view of this phenomenon, but also page 151.
406 For a deeper contestation of the binary relationship between “strong adult” and “weak child,” see O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 9 and also Mulya, 2018. See Lahtinen et al., 2018, page 92.
407 Frederiksen, 1986. Clancy, 2009, page 153.
408 Frederiksen, 1986. Bauserman & Rind, 1997, page 105. O’Carroll, 2018.
409 Regarding the “adventure” of precocious male experience, see Leahy, 1991, pages 64, 65, 67, and 68. See comment to Fritz and colleagues and to Finklehor, in Bauserman & Rind, 1997, page 127. Rind et al., 1998, page 43. See Renold, 2005, pages 127 to 129, for a summary of the attitudes of the boys she studied.
410 Bauserman & Rind, 1997, page 107.
411 See Gagnon & Simon’s suggestion, in Drury & Bukowsky, 2013, page 130, as well as page 131.
412 Briefly mentioned in Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 28.
413 Levine, 2002, page 8.
414 Renold, 2005, pages 127 to 129.
415 Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 201.
416 Drury & Bukowsky, 2013, page 131.
417 Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 24, points out that the exaltation of male sexuality and the demotion of the female sexuality is an injustice. On the girl who has casual sex, see comment on Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, in Levine, 2002, page 166, where Levine tells us that the ban on female casual experience is sexist and that the guilt felt by the girl who assumes such behavior is created and reinforced by the girl’s social environment. See also page 171.
418 See Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 132.
419 For an example of “corruption” of Xuxa, who made her career as a children’s show host, see Costa, 2015, pages 259 and 260.
420 See Wilson, 1981, chapter 6. Compare with the negative feelings that may be present in relationships with men rather than women (Leahy, 1991, pages 38, 41 and 42). Levine, a feminist, says that equality would be best achieved through the sexual liberation of the female, not the “purification” of the male, because, she says, the naturalness with which boys see sex is not something to be ashamed of, but something that could be celebrated. See Levine, 2002, page 171. See also account by “Daniel,” in Mulya, 2018.
421 Wilson, 1981, chapter 6. Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 200.
422 Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 198.
423 See Clancy, 2009, page 44.
424 Wilson, 1981, chapter 6.
425 Moll, 1912, page 87. Frederiksen, 1986. Levine, 2002, page xxiii.
426 Drury & Bukowsky, 2013, page 133.
427 See O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 2. This can be aggravated by the desire that the minor feels throughout puberty for emancipation (see Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, pages 246 and 281 to 291). See also Nelson, 1989. See also quote by Angela in Leahy, 1991, page 53. See also pages 66, 174 and 177 of the same work, for more on the desire for emancipation and personality development. A concrete case (mentioned by Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 2) is that of a sixteen-year-old girl who wrote about dating an adult in her personal journal. The mother read the journal and, outraged by her daughter’s relationship, gave the journal to the police. The girl refused to cooperate with the process if it meant arresting the adult, who had confessed having sex with her. In the end, the girl, who was supposed to be the victim, was arrested. Such a phenomenon (minors who are interested in adults) is also observed in homosexual or bisexual boys, according to Rind, 2001. Another concrete case can be read in Levine, 2002, pages 68 to 70, in which thirteen-year-old Heather became involved with twenty-one-year-old Dylan, attracting concern from parents who went to extremes to break the relationship, culminating with the two coming up with a plan to run away together, a plan that was carried out and, of course, regarded as kidnapping, although Heather insisted that she had fled voluntarily. For Levine, placing girls on a pedestal as “pure” beings is not the same as respecting them, as it divides society into “fallen” and “holy” girls, as if a group were better off for giving up part of their freedom (which can reinforce the idea that the good woman is the woman who submits). See Levine, 2002, page 171. See also Renold, 2005, page 99. But for Susan Clancy, to attribute responsibility to the minor is to blame the victim, because such a relationship, in her view, is always abuse (see Clancy, 2009, pages 84 to 87). https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11794721/Teen-girls-sexually-crave-older-partners-an-uncomfortable-truth.html http://www.tegenwicht.org/11_intimacy /circular.htm https://metro.co.uk/2017/10/27/teenage-girls-want-relationships-with-older-men-thats-why-its-their-responsibility-to-say-no- 7032490 /
428 Leahy, 1991, pages 29, 30 and 208.
See also O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 3, especially McCaghy’s quote. See also chapters 6, 8 and 9 of the same work. According to Sandfort, 1983, page 167, some of these relationships can last up to six years. See also pages 177 and 179. See also Hudson’s quote, in Leahy, 1991, page 128. On page 175 of the same work, we see some characteristics that adolescents find interesting in adults, according to the paraphrase of Davies, Nilan, Walker, and Willis. On page 178, we see how Michael judges his relationship with an adult in terms of friendship. Li, 1991, page 133, lists some childish characteristics that may be attractive to some adults. Although, on page 134, the author points out that there are romantic relationships between adult and minor that do not include the sexual component. See also quote on page 135. The romantic and stable aspect of certain adult-minor relationships is detailed on pages 138 and 139.
430 See Sandfort, 1983, pages 171 and 172. See also paraphrase, in Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 255.
Clancy had to admit that too, when dealing with adults who, in childhood, had relationships with much older people. Some subjects suggested that such experiences were pleasurable and that, despite being children at the time the contact occurred, they felt sexual pleasure (Clancy, 2009, pages 44 and 45).
432 Lex, in Sandfort, 1983, page 173, states that his relationship with Richard is important to him because, at home, he has to share parental attention with his siblings. So Lex gets from Richard what he could get from his parents only if he was an only child. In pages 174 to 176, attention is once again mentioned as something that minors seek in relationships with older partners, as well as a desire for affection that such minors cannot get from other sources. Thus, precocious relationships are not just about sex: other elements, analogous to those found in adult relationships, exist in precocious relationships (page 177). See also paraphrase of Sandfort (Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 252). Levine, 2002, page 86.
433 See Herriot & Hiseler, 2015, pages 291 and 292, for the account of a girl who categorically said in an interview for the documentary Sexy, Inc., that love is no longer necessary for sexual practice. See also Tolman et al., 2015, pages 82 and 83.
434 See Money & Weinrich, 1983. See also interview in “You Won’t Get a Color Television if You Don’t Stop Seeing Niels”, in Trobriands, 1986, volume 1. One of the boys interviewed by Leahy, 1991, page 37, goes as far as saying that boys should have the right to build a precocious relationship with adults if that was their wish, although he does not make such a statement in a totally uninhibited manner. See also pages 44, 160 and 161 of the same work.
435 See quote by boy who gave an interview to IDEAS, in Rind, 2001.
The same holds true for science, which should consider actual harm, not presumed harm, in making its assessments (see Nelson 1989).
437 Levine, 2002, page 85.
438 Sandfort, 1987, chapter 3.
440 This possibility is also pointed out by Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 33.
441 See also O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 9, on how the authority a child sees in an adult can be demolished. See other benefits in Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 333.
442 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6249345/Most-sex-abuse-allegations-against-teachers-pupils-says-NEU-chief.html https://solresearch.org/report/ Cases_of_False_Accusation__Sex_with_Juvenile
444 Unfortunately, this phenomenon has become so common that people are beginning to suspect that victims who have suffered real abuse are reporting only because there is a possibility of profit, not because they have suffered (Clancy, 2009, page 175). This shows that the trivialization of the act of reporting and the proliferation of false allegations can turn public opinion against real victims.
446 Levine, 2002, page 181. For the effect of moral panic on school conduct, see page 182 of the same text.
447 Korkman et al., 2018, pages 1, 2 and paraphrases.
448 Korkman et al., 2018, pages 8 and 9.
449 See comment to Herman, in Korkman et al., 2018, page 2.
451 See Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, page 27. See also paraphrase in Malón, 2015, page 1081.
452 See critique in Moll, 1912, pages 202 and 203. https://canalcienciascriminais.com.br/estupro-de-vulneravel-a-palavra-da-vitima-e-os-riscos-da-condenacao/
454 Clancy, 2009, page 191. See Fanetti et al., 2013, pages 347 to 349.
455 Rind & Welter, 2016.
456 See example of the Indians of the Amazonian Northwest, found by Goldman, in Wilson, 1981, chapter 6.
457 See Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 182.
458 Clancy, 2009, pages 23 to 29. The same happened with Samuel, on page 34 of the same work. See also pages 39 and 40.
459 Clancy, 2009, pages 115 to 121, 142 and 189.
460 See conclusion and synthesis in Constantine, 1981.
461 On parental reaction, see Willem’s statement, in Sandfort, 1983, page 178. Susan Clancy, in her study on child sexual abuse, had to review several of her beliefs about adult/child sexual relations in dealing with subjects. But as much as she rejected these experiences, found them unacceptable, and felt disgusted with them, Clancy had to accept that the subjects’ view of these experiences did not always match what she expected. Thus, the psychologist’s interpretation and the interviewee’s interpretation can conflict profoundly (Clancy, 2009, page 38).
462 In the interview on “You Won’t Get a Color Television If You Don’t Stop Seeing Niels” in Trobriands 1986, volume 1, we see that police reaction can cause more fear in the child than the possible reaction of parents. See also Lahtinen et al., 2018, page 85.
463 See paraphrase of West, Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 218.
464 Frederiksen, 1986. See also an interview with a boy in “I suspect he’ll go with my little brother later” in Trobriands, 1986, volume 1, who was not afraid of the adult with whom he was having sexual contacts, but feared police. See Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 37. See Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 2. Clancy, 2009, pages 143 and 144.
465 More on the deleterious effects of sexual repression on the Western capitalist man can be found in Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 176.
466 See paraphrases in Fontenberry, 2013, page 174.
467 See paraphrases of Elwin and René Schérer, in Brongersma, 1986, volume 1, pages 172 and 173.
468 See Rind, 2001, where we read a story that happened in Canada, where local police have engaged in similar behavior, threatening, pressuring and even bribing boys to “confess” the emphatically denied victimization. https://web.archive.org/web/20051031221311/http://www.latimes.com/travel/destinations/pacific/la-tm-mcmartin44oct30,0,285518.story
469 See Fanetti et al., 2013, page 349.
470 See quote by feminist Florence Rush, Clancy, 2009, page 89. Rush was a radical feminist, as we see on page 90 of the same work.
471 Paraphrased in Fanetti et al., 2013, page 351.
472 See Fanetti et al., 2013, pages 351, 352 and 354.
473 Paraphrased and explained in Fanetti et al., 2013, pages 352 and 353.
474 All of these problematic methods are detailed in Fanetti et al., 2013, pages 353 to 356.
475 She could even be suffering from false memories (see Clancy, 2009, page 192).
477 See Clancy, 2009, page 177.
478 See Clancy, 2009, pages 111 and 112.
479 In Trobriands 1986, we see that it would be a good idea that all interviews with children were recorded.
480 See Fanetti et al., 2013, page 357.
481 Again the example of Erin. See Clancy, 2009, page 23.
482 Clancy, 2009, page 156.
483 Trobriands, 1986.
484 A sloppy interview can traumatize the minor or aggravate his trauma if sexual trauma has occurred (Wilson 1981, chapter 8). A more complete list of criteria can be found in a paraphrase in Fanetti et al., 2013, page 361. There are other lists on pages 361 to 362 that mention other interview evaluation criteria. See also Faller’s chart, Reena & Giardino, 2013, page 405.
485 Fanetti et al., 2013, page 360.
486 See Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 2.
487 See quotes from Ingram, in O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 3. See also chapter 6 of the same work.
489 See Wilson, 1981, chapter 8.
490 See Levine, 2002, pages 28 and 29. This study and others are paraphrased in Frances & First, 2011, page 84.
491 See Levine, 2002, pages 27 and 28.
492 See discussion of incest, especially the paraphrase of Molnar and Cameron, in Constantine, 1981. This is also written in the paraphrases of Sloane, Karpinski, Summit, and Kryso, in Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 2.
493 See Bender and Blau’s paraphrase in Nelson, 1989. https://revistamarieclaire.globo.com/Web/noticia/2015/01/menina-de-18-anos-se-prepara-para-causar-with-seus -property-father-after-two-years of dating.html http://josenabucofilho.com.br/incesto/
494 Levine, 2002, page 64. See the paraphrase of Sorenson and Snow, in Reena & Giardino, 2013, page 404.
495 Money & Weinrich, 1983. Bernard, 1985, chapter II. See also the commentary in Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 2 on the actions of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. See Bauserman & Rind, 1997, pages 127 and 132. Levine, 2002, page 65. For the feeling of guilt that exists after voluntary relationships, see Clancy, 2009, pages 132 to 136.
496 Levine, 2002, page 85.
497 Trobriands, 1986. See Levine, 2002, pages 82 to 84.
498 On how such label can be repudiated by some minors, see Leahy, 1991, page 63.
499 See Sandfort, 1983, page 182. Trobriands, 1986. See especially the interview in “I suspect he’ll go with my little brother later”, in Trobriands, 1986, volume 1, and the interview with Stefan’s mother, whom feared that police intervention, particularly interrogation, would “break” her son.
500 See Leahy, 1991, page 212.
501 Malón, 2015, page 1081.
502 This quotation can be found in Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 2.
503 See quotation by Lotringer, Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 332.
504 On the burden of keeping secret specifically, see testimony in Leahy, 1991, page 62, in which a girl tells that she could not tell about her positive experiences to other girls in feminist groups she attended to, because such a group would not accept it. The main proponent of the need for a high age of consent today is feminism. Social reaction can also aggravate the damage caused by negative experiences (Clancy, 2009, page 170).
505 See quotation by Brongersma, in O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 3.
506 See quotation by Boulin, Brongersma, 1986, volume 2, page 40.
507 Kilpatrick, 1992, chapter 2 and chapter 9.
508 Rind, 2001.
509 Clancy, 2009, pages 27, 28, 31, 33, 36 and 57.
510 See reflection about Occam’s razor, in Clancy 2009, pages 55 and 56.
511 See Mulholland, 2015, page 325.
512 Robinson, 2013, page 42.
513 Levine, 2002, pages 45 and 46.
514 To see some stories of children and adolescents prosecuted for harmless sexual conduct, including one that ended in suicide, see Levine, 2002, pages 46 to 48. http://www.ethicaltreatment.org/stories .htm
515 See Wilson, 1981, chapter 8.
516 Afifi et al., 2018, pages 22, 26 and 27. See also page 23. For study limitations, see page 28.