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THE CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING THE PUBLICATION OF RIND ET AL.

"The historical approach to understanding of scientific fact is what differentiates the scholar in science from the mere experimenter." --E. G. Boring

The publication of Rind, Tromovitch and Bauserman's 1998 meta-analysis in, the Psychological Bulletin, the leading scientific journal of the American Psychological Association, caused a great deal of controversy. A brief historical overview of the controversy is provided below.

More detailed information on the controversy can be found in an paper titled: Science or Propaganda? An examination of Rind, Tromovitch & Bauserman (1998)

July 1998: Rind, Tromovitch and Bauserman's meta-analysis is published in the Psychological Bulletin. Their paper suggests that societal believes about child sexual abuse being harmful and a negative experience for children are incorrect. They say that it usually doesn't harm children to be sexually abused.

Psychological BulletinAbstract: Many lay persons and professionals believe that child sexual abuse (CSA) causes intense harm, regardless of gender, pervasively in the general population. The authors examined this belief by reviewing 59 studies based on college samples. Meta-analyses revealed that students with CSA were, on average, slightly less well adjusted than controls. However, this poorer adjustment could not be attributed to CSA because family environment (FE) was consistently confounded with CSA, FE explained considerably more adjustment variance than CSA, and CSA-adjustment relations generally became nonsignificant when studies controlled for FE. Self-reported reactions to and effects from CSA indicated that negative effects were neither pervasive nor typically intense, and that men reacted much less negatively than women. The college data were completely consistent with data from national samples. Basic beliefs about CSA in the general population were not supported [NCBI PubMed Abstract]

These conclusions are consistent with Rind et al.'s prior writings which have questioned society's condemnation of sex between adults and children. In addition, Rind et al.'s recommendations for changing how psychologists view child sexual abuse are identical to those being called for in pro-pedophile publications during the previous decade.
See, for example: Jones, G. P. (1990). The study of intergenerational intimacy in North America : Beyond politics and pedophilia. Journal of Homosexuality, 20 (1-2), 275-95. [NCBI PubMed Abstract]

December 1998: Rind and Bauserman are the key note speakers for a conference hosted by a pedophile advocacy group in the Netherlands. The purpose of the conference (titled "The Other Side of the Coin") was to shed light on the positive side of sex between adults and children.

Excerpt: "Today it is hard to imagine, but less than twenty years ago sexuality between  youth and adults was being written and spoken about almost exclusively in positive terms. . . . Presently narratives and theories about sexual abuse totally dominate the scene when it comes to sexuality in which children and youth are involved. . . . In order to throw light onto this other side of the coin again, after so long a time, the church-based Kerkelijk Sociale Arbeid (Church Social Work) foundation in Rotterdam is organizing a study conference to which the American psychologists Bruce Rind and Robert Bauserman have been invited as key speakers. (Dr. Rind has confirmed his presence.) Bauserman and Rind have distinguished  themselves in professional circles in recent years by their publication of meta-analyses, research into sexuological research. Their most startling conclusion: from nearly all available research it appears that among males who have had sexual experiences with adults during their youth, a majority look back upon these experiences as positive or neutral, and that they experienced no demonstrable, lasting damage." (The Other Side of the Coin. (September 1998). IPCE (International Pedophile and Child Emancipation) Newsletter , Number E 3, Available: http://www.imo.myweb.nl/newsletters/nl_e_3.html -link 14)

For for information on Rind, Tromovitch and Bauserman's other writings and presentations, click here.

Spring 1999: Pedophile groups celebrate the publication of Rind et al.'s paper as a huge leap forward in their struggle for social acceptance.

  • The North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), a political and educational organization that advocates for the decriminalization of pedophilic relationships "that are loving, supportive and mutually desired", publicly thanked the APA for "having the courage" to publish the study. NAMBLA announced that the Rind study confirms that "the current war on boy-lovers has no basis in science." Available at: http://www.ipce.info/ipceweb/Documentation/Documents/99-112_nambla_statement.htm
  • SafeHaven, one of the main websites for "boylovers," described the 1998 meta-analysis as "ground-breaking"
    "Folks this changes EVERYTHING. . . . I really do think this meta-analysis is a watershed for boylovers. . . . For several years now studies have been slowly chipping away at the harm myth. But THIS study is a major hammer-blow. It represents what is REALLY known about sex with boys, and the conclusion couldn't be clearer: When a boy and a man consent to make love with one another, the experience is positive, or at the very least neutral. There is, simply, no harm." [emphasis in the original]
    Found on SafeHaven at http://www.phix.com/~cipher/acrepa/JL98pedl.html [NOTE: Link no longer active]

March 22, 1999: Dr. Laura Schlessinger criticizes the Rind study on her show. She expressed her concern that the study "could be used to normalize pedophilia, to change the legal system"

Numerous newspaper articles picked up the story and criticized the APA for printing what they viewed as "pedophilia propaganda."

March 23, 1999: The APA releases a resolution titled "Statement on Childhood Sexual Abuse: Childhood Sexual Abuse Causes Serious Harm to its Victims ." In this statement, the APA reaffirmed its strong historical stand against child sexual abuse and claimed that "those who are reporting that the [Rind] study says that childhood sexual contact with adults is not harmful to children are misreporting the findings."
American Psychological Association. (1999). APA Resolution opposing child sexual abuse.

May 12, 1999: The American Psychological Association releases a statement by Rind, Tromovitch and Bauserman on APA letterhead. In the statement, Rind et al. asserted,

"If adverse childhood events are found to be less psychologically harmful than previously thought, or in some cases not measurably harmful at all , researchers have an ethical duty to report this." [emphasis added]

Rind claimed that "the value of our research review lies in its thorough and careful integration of research on the effects of childhood sexual abuse experiences in nonclincial populations . . ." They also defended their use of the term consent and stated, "our review of the research literature does not condone CSA, and changes nothing with regard to moral or legal views of abuse."

Rind, Tromovitch and Bauserman also asserted that their findings are no different than those reported by a study of children with cancer by Noll et al. (1999). Noll and colleagues reported that cancer patients were as well adjusted socially, emotionally, and psychologically as controls. Rind et al. asserted: "A response to this study analogous to the criticism of our own would be to claim that the authors and the AMA are promoting cancer because it's less harmful psychologically than previously thought" (p. 2). Rind, B., Tromovitch, P., & Bauserman, R. (1999, May 12). Authors' statement. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. Full text available: http://www.ipce.info/ipceweb/Documentation/Documents/99-115_rbt_may_12.htm

NOTE:  Rind et al.'s comparison of their study to the one by Noll et al. is misleading. Although the two studies did indeed have similar findings (better than expected adjustment), vastly different conclusions were drawn by the researchers. When the conclusion sections of the two studies are compared. the sociopolitical nature of Rind et al.'s conclusion section becomes clear. For instance, Noll et al. never suggested that cancer should be redefined as a neutral experience. Nor did the finding of better than expected psychological adjustment lead Noll et al. to conclude that having childhood cancer is not traumatic or that the harm associated with childhood cancer has been exaggerated. Instead, Noll et al. noted the appropriate limitations of their findings and concluded that children are remarkably resilient and that "negative consequences of exposure to adversity" appear to be ameliorated through social support and "normative parental functioning" (p. 76).
See: Noll, R. B., Gartstein, M. A., Vannatta, K., Correll, J., Bukowski, W. M., & Davies, W. H. (1999). Social, emotional, and behavioral functioning of children with cancer. Pediatrics, 103 , 71-78. [NCBI PubMed Abstract ]

May 12, 1999:  Rep Matt Salmon (R-Ariz) introduces U.S. House Resolution 107 "rejecting the conclusions of a recent article published by the American Psychological Association that suggests that sexual relationships between adults and children might be positive for children." Rep. Salmon expressed disbelief that Congress was being forced by the APA to defend the position that child sex abuse is harmful to children.

May 13, 1999: Rhea Faberman, the APA's director of public affairs, is quoted in the Washington Times as saying that the belief that the Rind study seeks "to normalize pedophilia is ridiculous."
See:
Duin, J. (1999, May 13). Hill joins pedophilia-study critics. Washington Times, p. A4.

May 14, 1999:  APA Chief Executive Officer Raymond D. Fowler, Ph.D., debates Congressman Dr. David Weldon (a co-sponsor of HR107) on national television (MSNBC). Folwer defended the Rind study, stating: "It isn't a bad study, it's been peer-reviewed  . . . it's a good study."

May 24, 1999: The Leadership Council issues a press release criticizing the study's misleading and flawed methodology.
Leadership Council for Mental Health, Justice and the Media. (1999, May 24). Mental Health Leaders Suggest Flawed Research May Promote Pedophilia. Bala Cynwyd , PA : Author.

June 9, 1999: Fowler hand-carries a letter to Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex) in which Fowler admitted that the APA failed to "evaluate the article based on its potential for misinforming the public policy process." Fowler also acknowledged that "some of the language in the article, when examined from a public policy perspective is inflammatory," and included opinions "inconsistent" with APA's policy on child protection issues.

Fowler pledged that in the future his organization would be more cognizant of the potential for publications to misinform the public on important issues and promised to create legal briefs attacking misuse of the article in the courts. In addition, Fowler announced that for the first time in its 107-year history of publishing it has sought independent expert evaluation of the scientific quality of an article. Fowler noted that an external review "is unprecedented in the Association's history of scholarly publishing, but, in view of the criticism of this study by various groups and individuals, we believe that such a review is appropriate." The American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) was asked to perform the review.
See: Fowler, R. (1999, June 9). Letter to Hon. Tom Delay . Available: http://www.apa.org/releases/delay.html
See also:"APA defends stance against the sexual abuse of children"
http://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug99/as4.html [link no longer active]

June 30, 1999: The False Memory Syndome Foundation cites Rind and Tromovitch's 1997 meta-analysis in a friend of the court brief on behalf of a man appealing his conviction for sexually abusing both his daughter and step-daughter. Rind and Tromovitch's 1997 meta-analysis which concluded that CSA is not associated with significant maladjustment. The brief was written by the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF), a nonprofit organization that advocates for parents accused of sexual abuse by their children [FMS Foundation. (1998). FMSF Amicus Curiae Brief - Crt. of Appeals. 4th Dist., California ].
Wilson v. Phillips. 73 Cal. App. 4 th 250; 86 Cal. Rptr. 2d 204 (Calif. Ct. App. 1999)

July 12, 1999: The United States House of Representatives unanimously passes House Concurrent Resolution 107 which rejects "the conclusions of a recent article published in the Psychological Bulletin , a journal of the American Psychological Association, that suggests that sexual relationships between adults and children might be positive for children."  The resolution explained that "elected officials have a duty to inform and counter actions they consider damaging to children, parents, families, and society." Rep. Salmon was the sponsor - there were 47 co-sponsors. The bill was then sent to the Senate.
Available at:
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getpage.cgi?dbname=1999_record&page=H5341&position=all

July 30, 1999: The U.S. Senate unanimously passes the resolution condemning the Rind study . Thus, the meta-analysis by Rind et al. became the first scientific study to be formally denounced by the U.S. Congress.
Available at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d106:HC00107:@@@X

August 17, 1999: Rind et al.'s 1998 meta-analysis is cited by a prominent psychological expert who was testifying on behalf of a confessed pedophilic priest. In a deposition, Dr. Charles Brainerd, a defense expert representing Father Bredemann (a priest and confessed pedophile) cited Rind et al. (1998) as proof that CSA does not cause harm to children in his deposition. Referring to the Rind study, Brainerd stated: "the current scientific literature does not support the existence of such a relationship [between maladjustment and sexual abuse] in the population at large. And that's the interpretive framework that I bring to this particular case, that there isn't scientific evidence for that assumption."
Brainerd's 1999 deposition in Watson v. Roman Catholic Church, Superior Court of the State of Arizona, Maricopa County.

October 4, 1999: The AAAS's Committee of Scientific Freedom and Responsibility declined the APA's request for them to review the Rind study, saying they saw "no reason to second-guess the process of peer review used by the APA journal in its decision to publish the article in question." The AAAS also reported that they "saw no clear evidence of improper application of methodology or other questionable practices on the part of the article's authors." However, they added that "if there were such problems, uncovering them would be the task of those reviewing it prior to publication or to readers of the published article" (McCarty, 1999). The AAAS further noted that, "The fact that the Committee has chosen not to proceed with an evaluation of the article in the Psychological Bulletin should not be seen either as endorsement or criticism of it."
McCarty, R. C. (1999, November/December). AAAS responds to APA's request for review. Psychological Science Agenda, (Bulletin of American Psychological Association Science Directorate) 12 , 2-3.
See also:  AAAS declines to review controversial child-sexual abuse study.
http://www.apa.org/monitor/dec99/nl6.html

October 20, 1999: State v. Steward: An attorney for convicted pedophile, Kevin Eugene Steward, used the Rind study as evidence that the judge should give Steward a lenient sentence. Steward, an Arizona elementary school teacher, was convicted of molesting 5 boys ranging in age from 6 to 13. Steward's attorney, Bruce Blumberg, said Steward is not a threat to society and can be helped. He complained about the injustice of the sentence and cited Rind et al.'s research saying that it shows that children who are touched inappropriately often have no ill effects. A sentence to die in prison is much too harsh, he said.
Harker, V. (1999, October 21). Former gym teacher gets 88 years in molestation case. Arizona Republic, p. A15.

November 6, 1999:  Rind, Tromovitch and Bauserman (1999, November 6) present a paper titled "The Clash of Media, Politics, and Sexual Science: An Examination of the Controversy Surrounding the Psychological Bulletin Meta-analysis on the Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse" at the 1999 Joint Annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality and the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists in St. Louis, MO. Rind et al. labeled their critics as anti-intellectual or right wing fundamentalists.

Excerpt: "Our meta-analysis was accepted for publication in APA's most prestigious journal after a rigorous peer-review because it was seen as advancing the field. We believe it did. It brought methodological rigor into an area that needed this. Issues of generalizability, causation, and validity of constructs in relation to CSA were systematically addressed issues that are at the very center of sound science. But our research has been severely attacked by a coalition of psychoanalysts and religious conservatives who have succeeded in mischaracterizing our research as "junk science," having it condemned by the U.S. government, and pressuring the APA to act politically at the expense of scientific integrity."
Full text available at: http://www.ipce.info/ipceweb/Library/99118_rbt_defense_nov99.htm

November 17, 1999: An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer indicates that Rind and Tromovitch view the AAAS's decision as a vindication of their work. Tromovitch is quoted as saying: "Their comments indicate to me that they consider our work to be up to par." A spokesperson for the APA is quoted as saying that it had no plans to ask any other organization to review the Rind study.
Burling, S. (1999, November 17). Despite stir, sex-abuse study won't be reviewed. Philadelphia Inquirer , Available: http://www.phillynews.com/inquirer/99/Nov/17/international/PEDO17.htm [link no longer active].

March 13, 2000: Bruce Rind and Carol Tavris present a continuing education workshop titled: " When Politics Clashes With Science: An Examination of the Controversy Surrounding the Psychological Bulletin Article Meta-analysis on the Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse" at the University of Tennessee. Rind claimed that he and his co-authors are victims of political persecution promulgated by religious and moralistic zealots.
When politics clashes with science: An examination of the controversy surrounding the Psychological Bulletin article meta-analysis on the assumed properties of child sexual abuse . (2000). Flyer for symposium lead by Bruce Rind and Carol Tavris, Monday, March 13,  from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., University Center-Shiloh Room.

March 16, 2000: SafeHaven Foundation a pro-pedophile group released a book called Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers. The book relies heavily on the Rind study to justify having sex with children. The Introduction to Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers.
Riegel, D. L. (2000). Understanding loved boys and boylovers. Philadelphia, PA: SafeHaven Foundation Press.

The book is available on Amazon, and the following description of the book is provided:

Understanding Loved Boys and BoyloversMany researchers is the fields of Psychology and Human Sexuality have been taking a fresh look at the "conventional" wisdom which has been the basis for evaluation of intergenerational male/male sexual activities. The long assumed "harm" of such activities has failed to be supported by research, and the sociocultural "wrongness" based on this "harm" is therefore left without any rational basis. . . .the [Rind] paper, having been subjected to intensive examination at every level, has been judged to be true, accurate and objective science. (Book Description submitted by the publisher SafeHaven and posted by Amazon.com -http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/stores/detail/-/books/0967699703/reviews/102-1365643-0161769)

Spring 2000: The journal Sexuality and Culture publishes an article by Rind et al., where they defend their work and attack their critics. They conclude by arguing for separating morality and science.
Rind, B., Tromovitch, P., & Bauserman, R. (2000). Condemnation of a scientific article: A chronology and refutation of the attacks and a discussion of threats to the integrety of science. Sexuality & Culture, 4(2). Full text available:
http://www.imo.myweb.nl/library_two/rbt/condemn_frame.htm

July 2001: The Skeptical Inquirer, a magazine for skeptics, publishes a paper by Rind et al. in which they defend their study and attack their critics.
Rind, B., Bauserman, R., & Tromovitch, P. (2001, July/August). The Condemned Meta-Analysis on Child Sexual Abuse; Good Science and Long-Overdue Skepticism. Skeptical Inquirer, 68-72.  PDF file

August 2001: The journal Archives of Sexual Behavior publishes a paper by Rind highlighting the positive aspects of man-boy sex. The article provides a series of interviews with men who discuss how much they enjoyed having sex with adult males when they were adolescents. Based on these positive reports, Rind concludes that "Alternative models should be sought that incorporate the consistent finding that adolescent boys generally react neutrally or positively to ADSRs [age-discrepant sexual relationships] that are willingly engaged in and involve adults of the gender consistent with the adolescent's sexual orientation" (p. 362).

EXCERPTS" Over the last quarter century the incest model, with its image of helpless victims exploited and traumatized by powerful perpetrators, has come to dominate perceptions of virtually all forms of adult-minor sex. Thus, even willing sexual relations between gay or bisexual adolescent boys and adult men, which differ from father-daughter incest in many important ways, are generally seen by the lay public and professionals as traumatizing and psychologically injurious. This study assessed this common perception by examining a nonclinical, mostly college sample of gay and bisexual men. NCBI PubMed Abstract

[From the Appendix:]."
"It developed over time and was great. We became friends and I invited him over once when my parents weren't home. I practically had to force sex on him because he was afraid about losing his job. Ended when I went away for the summer and he wasn't a teacher at my school no more."

Rind, B. (2001). Gay and bisexual adolescent boys' sexual experiences with men: An empirical examination of psychological correlates in a nonclinical sample. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 30 , 345-68.

November 9, 2001: Psychological Bulletin publishes two scientific critiques of Rind et al.'s meta-analysis. Rind et al. reply by claiming that their original methods, analyses, recommendations, and conclusions are correct and that criticism of their paper is invalid and biased.

ARTICLES

Ondersma, S. J., Chaffin, M., Berliner, L., Cordon, I. , Goodman, G. S., & Barnett, D. (2001). Sex With Children Is Abuse: Comment on Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman (1998) Psychological Bulletin, 127, 707-714.
B. Rind, P. Tromovitch, and R. Bauserman (1998) reported a meta-analysis of the relation between sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence and psychological functioning among college students. Several aspects of their work have proven to be highly controversial, including their assertion that the relation between child sexual abuse and adjustment is quite small and their questioning of whether child sexual abuse should be labeled abuse in scientific inquiry. In this commentary, the authors summarize the controversy that has ensued, place it in a historical context, discuss the limitations of B. Rind et al.'s findings, and critique the manner in which those findings are presented. The authors also argue for the appropriateness of the term abuse and for scientific terminology that reflects rather than contradicts consensual public morality.

Stephanie J. Dallam, David H. Gleaves, Antonio Cepeda-Benito , Joyanna L. Silberg, Helena C. Kraemer, and David Spiegel The Effects of Child Sexual Abuse: Comment on Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman (1998). Psychological Bulletin , 2001, Vol. 127, No. 6, 715-733.
B. Rind, P. Tromovitch, and R. Bauserman (1998) examined the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) by meta-analyzing studies of college students. The authors reported that effects "were neither pervasive nor typically intense" and that "men reacted much less negatively than women" (p. 22) and recommended value-neutral reconceptualization of the CSA construct. The current analysis revealed numerous problems in that study that minimized CSAâ€"adjustment relations, including use of a healthy sample, an inclusive definition of CSA, failure to correct for statistical attenuation, and misreporting of original data. Rind et al.'s study's main conclusions were not supported by the original data. As such, attempts to use their study to argue that an individual has not been harmed by sexual abuse constitute a serious misapplication of its findings.

The Validity and Appropriateness of Methods, Analyses, and Conclusions in Rind et al. (1998): A Rebuttal of Victimological Critique From Ondersma et al. (2001) and Dallam et al. (2001) by Bruce Rind, Philip Tromovitch, and Robert Bauserman. Psychological Bulletin , 2001, Vol. 127, No. 6, 734-758.
The authors respond to 2 victimological critiques of their 1998 meta-analysis on child sexual abuse (CSA). S. J. Dallam et al. (2001) claimed that B. Rind, P. Tromovitch, and R. Bauserman (1998) committed numerous methodological and statistical errors, and often miscoded and misinterpreted data. The authors show all these claims to be invalid. To the contrary, they demonstrate frequent bias in Dallam et al.'s criticisms. S. J. Ondersma et al. (2001) claimed that Rind et al.'s study is part of a backlash against psychotherapists, that its suggestions regarding CSA definitions were extrascientific, and that the moral standard is needed to understand CSA scientifically. The authors show their suggestions to have been scientific and argue that it is Ondersma et al.'s issue-framing and moral standard that are extrascientific. This reply supports the original methods, analyses, recommendations, and conclusions of Rind et al.
Full text available: http://www.ipce.info/library_3/files/rtbval.htm  

May 2001: Rind is part of a panel discussion titled: "Unpopular Results: Providing Incremental Validity at the Price of Being Rejected" at the the 14th annual meeting of the American Psychological Society. Rind discussed "The Importance of Skeptical Inquiry into Assumptions about Child Sexual Abuse, and the Costly Consequences for this Inquiry."
Full text: http://www.ipce.info/ipceweb/Library/01sep09l_rind_at_aps.htm

See also: Science and Politics: Weathering the Storm Around Unpopular Results. APS Observer, 14(6).

2003: Rind, B. (2003). An Elaboration on Causation and Positive Cases in Child Sexual Abuse. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(3), 352-357.

2005: Rind's paper titled: "Pederasty: An Integration of Cross-Cultural, Cross-Species, and Empirical Data" is published in a special issue of The Journal of Homosexuality on Same-Sex Desire and Love in Greco-Roman Antiquity and in the Classical Tradition of the West.
The article examines empirical rather than clinical data on pederasty, and supplements this with cross-cultural and cross-species perspectives. The empirical data show that pederasty is not only not predestined to injure, but can benefit the adolescent when practiced according to the ancient Greek form. Cross-cultural and cross-species data show the extensiveness of pederasty in the natural world, as well as its functional rather than pathological nature in these societies and species. An evolutionary model that synthesizes the empirical, cross-cultural, and cross-species data is proposed as an alternative to the highly inadequate feminist and psychiatric models. The animal data suggest that the seeds for pederasty were planted at the dawn of humanity. The human data suggest that pederasty came to serve a mentoring function.
[Rind, B. (2005). Pederasty: An Integration of Cross-Cultural, Cross-Species, and Empirical Data, Journal of Homosexuality, 49(3/4), 463-475.]

 

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