A right to love - Cross-generational relationships in the age of consent

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By: Dechen Albero

This paper on pedophilia and age of consent legislation in Dutch society was written by an American student who stayed in Holland for some months to conduct his study. Among his informational sources was an active member of the MARTIJN Organization. This paper is published here with permission of the author. We sincerely hope you will subject his findings to critical review. If you wish to copy, spread, and/or make use of the paper in any other way, email the author.


Since the beginning of the Dutroux scandal in 1996, societal attitudes toward youth sexuality have shifted throughout Europe. There is a general feeling that more legislation needs to be enacted in order to protect children from abuse. This paper examines the effects of the Dutroux scandal on Dutch society, which is often recognized for its tolerant attitude toward sexuality. Focusing on pedophilia and cross-generational relationships, current societal views of youth sexuality are juxtaposed with those of various professionals, who work in educational, political, psychological and sexological fields. The perceptions of pedophiles concerning youth sexuality are also presented, as well as their experiences in society. Finally, youth opinions on age of consent legislation and cross-generational relationships are discussed. By examining the perceptions of each of these groups, it is possible to gain an understanding of the present situation in the Netherlands with regard to pedophilia and youth sexuality, as well as the factors that influenced its development.


Completing an independent study project is a stressful experience. However, it would have been much more frustrating, if not impossible, without the help of the following individuals who took time out of their busy schedules to answer questions, provide direction and lend support in times of crisis. Thank you to: Peter Dankmeijer, Mattias Duyves, Pranati Duivenvoorden and the other English teachers and students at Fons Vitae Lyceum, Ginni Fleck, Gert Hekma, Dorelies Kraakman, Jany Rademakers, Sidney Smeets, Raymond Smulders, Menne Vellinga and Arianne van der Ven.

I would also like to express my gratitude to my advisor and the other individuals who I interviewed and spoke with at the Dutch Society for Sexual Reform (NVSH). Unfortunately, their names cannot be mentioned here due to the current legal situation within the Netherlands. In the following pages, I have tried to let their voices be heard, and I sincerely hope in the coming years more people will set aside their prejudices and objectively listen to these stories.

Finally, special thanks to Siebren Krol, who has listened to me rant and rave for countless hours about a number of subjects and will hopefully continue to do so in the months and years to come. I value our friendship immensely, and I hope it will continue to grow despite the ocean that separates us.

This paper is dedicated to all victims of hysteria and prejudice.

Dechen Albero
May 15, 2000


The Legacy of Marc Dutroux

In August 1996, Marc Dutroux was arrested in Belgium and charged with kidnapping and murdering four young girls. A convicted child rapist, Dutroux was on parole when he committed these crimes, which were sensationalized throughout Europe in newspapers, television news broadcasts and radio programs. While the nature of the crimes horrified the public, it was the inept behavior of police and politicians, who wasted time by repeatedly botching investigations and ruining clues, that contributed to the largely vehement reactions. Shortly after the arrest, more than 250,000 Belgians marched in the streets of Brussels carrying white balloons, flowers and crosses in memory of the dead children (BBC News Online, 1998). People demanded that those convicted for child sex offences never be paroled from jail and petitions circulated calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty (BBC News Online, 1998). To date, over one third of those who share the same surname as Marc Dutroux have applied to have it changed (BBC News Online, 1998).

Dutroux and the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the Dutroux scandal caused much outrage and the effects are still being felt. Winnie Sorgdrager, who was then the Minister of Justice, was encouraged to attend the 1996 World Congress Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Stockholm, Sweden where the Dutroux scandal occupied a central part of the discussion. The conference concluded with a "collective promise by the European governments to create a new policy against abuse" (Van Bijsterveldt, 2000, forthcoming). The Dutch public supported the agreement along with the popular belief that the sexual revolution had gone too far. They began to demand that sexual "delinquents" be treated ruthlessly, and calls for chemical castration, lifelong treatment and the publication of private information about apprehended sex offenders have yet to subside (Van Bijsterveldt, 2000, forthcoming).

In response to the public outcry and the promise made at the conference in 1996, the current Minister of Justice, Benk Korthals, has recently published a memorandum titled "The Combat of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Against Children." Written in an era of emotional distress where "rational debate" has become nearly "impossible" (Goslinga, 1999, p. 10), the memorandum is extremely conservative and defines a child as anyone under the age of eighteen. Claiming "'children need to be protected,'" it implies that a total governmental prohibition of sexual acts by and with persons under the age of sixteen is a necessity (Van Bijsterveldt, 2000, forthcoming). Although Sidney Smeets, a twenty-four year old personal assistant to VVD member Erica Terpstra, believes this proposition is a "drastic measure," the subject has already been raised in one parliament hearing, and another is scheduled for later this spring (Smeets interview). The COC and Dutch Society for Sexual Reform (NVSH) are two of only a few organizations actively speaking against the memorandum. However, their "remarks regarding the lost balance between protection and self-determination" of children have largely been ignored. Journalists present at the first hearing chose to focus their articles exclusively on a new danger that was discussed by abuse experts---the youthful sex offender (Van Bijsterveldt, 2000, forthcoming).

Personal Investment

Why is this topic important?

As a result of the Dutroux scandal and several sex crimes in the Netherlands committed by repeat offenders, the topic of pedophilia and increased protections for youth is being discussed throughout the country. However, the stories are often sensationalized in the media, which focus only on the nature of the crimes committed and the "helpless," "pitiful" status of the victims (Goslinga, 1998, p. 7). These stories confuse terms like "pedophile," "child abuser," and "pedosexual," contributing to misconceptions among the public regarding adults who erotically love and/or have sex with children. The effect of such misinformation can be seen in the general public's demands for stricter legislation and punishments relating to sex crimes, as well as the discussion in parliament concerning possible changes to age of consent laws. In addition, youth who would be most affected by new legislation are not being consulted or asked for their opinions. It is for these reasons that this study is important and further research into these issues is necessary.

Developing Interest

My interest in this topic has risen largely as a result of my personal experiences. For several years, I only engaged in relationships with individuals who were significantly older than me. I was attracted to these people because I seemed to have more in common with them. We shared similar interests and I felt they could understand me better than those in my own age group, whom some in society believed I should be dating. I never was able to understand the vehement attitudes opposed to my relationships, and it was my hope through researching the topic of cross-generational love that I would become more knowledgeable regarding the factors that contributed to general societal disapproval.

In my search for information on cross-generational relationships, a number of articles surfaced related to pedophilia, and my research interest began to shift. There seemed to be very little written about cross-generational relationships among older individuals, and I was curious about pedophilia given the mostly negative information I had read about the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) in gay newspapers. I was interested in hearing the stories of pedophiles and deciding for myself whether they are the horrible monsters described in the media or merely another minority group silenced through oppression.

In considering the question of pedophilia, I began thinking about youth rights and age of consent legislation. They seemed intricately related to pedophilia, as the age of consent is the legal method for criminalizing pedophiles, and it also contributes to the repression of youth sexuality by imposing age limitations on relationships. Although I was never affected by such legislation in my relations with older individuals, I began to think about what might have happened if I had been a year or two younger when I entered into those relationships. In doing so, I began questioning the need for age of consent legislation, which seemed superfluous given the number of other laws that exist to prosecute abusers. I believed it would be interesting to see what other youth thought about this issue, and with this intention I began designing my study.

Research Question

My interests in cross-generational relationships, pedophilia and youth rights, as well as the current legal situation in the Netherlands, were the main contributors to developing this study. In trying to incorporate each of these aspects into a thorough study, I have concerned myself with the following question. How do the conceptions of pedophilia contribute to existing age of consent laws and affect the sexual well-being of youth? It is this question that the following study will try to answer.


Demographics of Informants

The main methodology in comprising this study was individual interviews with pedophiles and professionals from various fields who work with issues of youth sexuality and the age of consent. Interviews were conducted from April 17 through April 23, 2000, usually in the informant's house or office. In two cases, interviews were conducted by telephone and/or e-mail due to the scheduling problems of the informants. Please see the Interview Environment section for more information.


How were they located?

Given the criminalization of sexual contact with individuals under the age of twelve in the Netherlands, it was difficult to find pedophiles interested in talking to me. I located "Matthijs Koning" [C.C.] (all names in this section have been changed to protect anonymity), a nineteen year-old freelance translator, through my host, a radio talk show personality who had originally interviewed Koning on a similar topic several months ago. Although he was hesitant to involve himself with my project, I eventually earned Koning's trust, and he soon introduced me to another informant, "Nathan Paul," a thirty-five year old therapeutic aid, who was born in the United States and now resides in Amsterdam.

I met my last informant, "Max De Wit," a fifty-nine year old retired businessman, at an NVSH pedophile support group meeting. Although there were thirteen people present at the meeting, De Wit was the only one who agreed to an interview. Others told me they had been interviewed by "researchers" before and later discovered their stories featured in tabloid newspapers. Understandably, they did not wish to take any further risks that might cause unnecessary harm. While I would have liked to talk with more pedophiles, I feel the information I received from my three informants was valuable and somewhat representative of the larger male pedophile community. There were many similarities in each of the men's stories and they were eager to share with me anything that would provide a better understanding of their plight. In addition, Koning is an active member in the MARTIJN Organization, a pedophile rights group, an editor of OK magazine, the only legal Dutch pedophile publication, and he has also been interviewed on "Catherine," a national television talk show. He has a broad perspective on the situation of pedophiles within the Netherlands and was extremely useful for gaining information on Dutch historical and current perceptions of pedophilia.


It is also important to note that of these pedophile informants, two are "active" and one is "passive." "Active" pedophiles are either involved in relationships with youth or eagerly seek such relations. De Wit and Paul are examples of active pedophiles, as one is involved in a relationship with a fifteen year-old boy and another is seeking a relationship. Koning is an example of a "passive" pedophile, as he is not currently involved with a youth or pursuing such a relationship, despite his erotic attraction to children. Therefore, the perspectives of Paul and De Wit may vary from those of Koning and other "passive" pedophiles.


All of the pedophile informants who participated in my study were males. In designing my project, I made a decision to strictly focus on the phenomenon of male pedophilia, as it is the one most often referred to in Dutch media and discussed within society. Female pedophiles do exist, and I believe their situation demands more attention. The Mati in South America and the recent Mary Kay Letourneau scandal in the United States are just two examples. It is also interesting that at the NVSH pedophile support meeting, there were no female participants. (For more information regarding the phenomenon of female pedophilia, see the 1992 issue of Paidika edited by Sax and Deckwitz.)


The age of my informants varied from nineteen to fifty-nine. Given the difficulty in locating informants, I did not impose any age restrictions when designing my study. However, I believe the difference in age among the informants is beneficial, as it allows for a range of experiences and various perspectives to be discussed.

Sexual Orientation

Another factor that varied among my informants was their sexual orientation. While Paul expressed his desire for both boys and girls, he refused to be labeled, as did Koning and De Wit. Although their primary interests are boys, each acknowledged that they are attracted to girls and teenagers of both sexes. De Wit also stated that he has been sexually active with women, but he does not pursue them anymore.


While the nationality of the informants varied, each has had significant experience within the Dutch pedophile community. Both Koning and De Wit are Dutch, but identify more with their ethnic heritage. Part of Koning's family is South African, and he takes pride in not being "completely Dutch." De Wit is more accepting of his Dutch nationality, but remains sympathetic to his Asian heritage. During our conversation, he frequently compared his experiences in Europe with those in Asia. Paul is an American who lived in Hawaii for a number of years. At my request, he compared his experiences in the Netherlands with those in the United States

Urban Center

All of the informants live in Amsterdam or just outside the city. The attitudes they discuss will largely be those of people who live in the city and could be viewed as more liberal. However, tolerance of pedophiles throughout the country is generally low due to misconceptions present in the media and continued outrage over Dutroux and other sex crime scandals. While experiences may differ depending on the environment in which a pedophile lives, the attitudes they encounter in society are likely similar throughout the country.


How were they selected?

In choosing to interview professionals for my study, I tried to speak with individuals actively working in fields related to youth sexuality and age of consent legislation. As I had met several people through lectures and other activities associated with the School for International Training's (SIT) "Sexuality, Gender and Identity" seminar, I contacted these individuals to see if they would be interested in being interviewed. Their work spanned the fields of sexology, psychology, academic sexuality studies and Dutch politics and legislation. Ginni Fleck, director of the SIT program, recommended a fourth informant, who has a background in writing curriculums for youth sex education. Although these informants cannot be considered the definitive sources on issues of youth sexuality and the age of consent, I believe they are representative of the fields in which they work. The insights they provide are based on years of professional study and research or practical experience in the field. It may have been helpful to talk with more people in each area, but my goal was to gain a general understanding of the dominant or popular views of youth sexuality within these various fields. Except for questions that asked for personal opinions, I believe the responses of these informants are free of bias.


The four informants consisted of two men and two women. I did not have any gender requirements when designing my study, but I am glad to have the views of both sexes represented. In analyzing the transcripts of these interviews, there were differences between the sexes with regard to their opinions on age of consent legislation, the way in which they view the law and their ideas for educating youth about sex. I have come to view the gender of my informants as a highly important factor in their responses, and I am glad to have an equal number of men and women among my informants.


The informants varied in age from twenty-four to fifty-three. While I did not impose any age restrictions when selecting informants, it was my goal to interview individuals with significant experience in regard to their respective fields. Naturally, this led me to mostly older individuals, with the exception of Sidney Smeets. Due to the nature of his job, he is extremely familiar with the current age of consent debate and the history behind the law in the Netherlands. Therefore, I decided that he would still be a valuable resource despite his somewhat limited experience in relation to the other informants.

Sexual Orientation

Two of the informants interviewed identified as gay and another as a lesbian. The fourth informant identified as a heterosexual female. I do not believe the sexual orientation of my informants influenced their responses, except in the aspect that one male respondent was adamant about the effect of age of consent legislation on gay and lesbian teenagers.


All of the informants are of Dutch origin. This requirement did not surface during the design of my study, but it was my intent to interview Dutch nationals or people who have resided in the Netherlands for many years. My study is specifically concerned with the Netherlands and individuals new to the country might not have been as familiar with the influence of the Dutroux scandal on Dutch society and the general views of pedophilia.

Demographics of Survey

The other main methodology used in comprising my study was a survey (see Appendix A) of 132 students at the Fons Vitae Lyceum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands from April 16 through April 28, 2000. Over the course of two weeks, I visited seven English classes that were part of the Hoger Algemeen Voortgezet Onderwijs (HAVO; Higher General Secondary Education) or Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (VWO; Pre-University Education) programs. There were 67 female respondents and 65 male respondents. They consisted primarily of white Dutch (63%) but there were also a number of Surinamese (11%), Asians (5%), Moroccans (4%), Turkish (3%) and other European nationalities (4%). Others identified as Mixed (2%) or failed to provide a response (8%).

Prior to completing the survey, I told the students about myself and explained my study at the University of Amsterdam and subsequent interest in hearing their thoughts on issues like the age of consent and cross-generational love. I discussed the developing situation in the Dutch parliament, stating the current ages of consent (16 and 12) and explaining the proposed change of setting a uniform age at 18. The survey was conducted entirely in English, and I repeatedly asked the students if they understood what I was saying. In each class, a native Dutch teacher was present and translated any words he/she thought the students would not understand or that they had questions about. After completing the survey, there was a twenty minute discussion during which the students were allowed to ask questions about the survey or any other topic that interested them.

Interview and Survey Environments

Pedophiles and Professionals

Although interviews were conducted in several different environments, I do not believe they significantly influenced the responses of my informants. In my interview with Peter Dankmeijer, a forty-two year old author of a sex education curriculum, he became extremely troubled when asked for his definition of a pedophile. At the time, his younger boyfriend was also in the room. Dankmeijer talked about related issues for some time and never really answered the question. His boyfriend left shortly afterward and did not return during the interview.

My interview with Sidney Smeets was conducted via telephone as he works in the Hague and has a very busy schedule. At several points during our discussion he lowered his voice significantly, and it is probable that someone else entered his office during those moments. However, Smeets remained candid throughout the conversation and he did not sound uncomfortable with any of the questions posed.

Also, my interview with Jany Rademakers, a sexologist and child psychologist, was conducted via E-mail. Rademakers requested this interview mode due to the inflexibility in her schedule. As a result, it is difficult to judge her reaction and comfort level with the questions.


As the students were surveyed in a classroom setting and there was some discussion during the completion of the survey, it is possible that the results are somewhat flawed. However, it is difficult if not impossible to survey as many students individually. Before beginning the survey, the importance of their responses was stressed and students were encouraged to answer honestly and without consulting friends. Nevertheless, some completed the survey in groups and there was discussion concerning several questions. There were also students who answered conscientiously and commented at length regarding several issues. A majority of the students appeared to regard the survey seriously, as they completed it individually and were interested in discussing some of the issues in a question and answer session during the second part of class. In general, I believe the results of the survey can be trusted with regard to most of the questions asked. Much of the discussion and commenting in the classroom concerned the first two questions, which asked for a definition of "sex" and the five words they most often associate with it. The responses to these questions varied from systematic to comical and vulgar. With the exception of one other question, the rest of the survey consisted of multiple choice questions and there were no strange or inappropriate answers. The results appear to be well representative of the students' views and should be regarded in this manner.

Overview of Paper

The rest of this paper is divided into several sections and will present relevant theories and literature related to the topic of pedophilia and youth sexuality, as well as an analysis of my research and some general conclusions and recommendations based on my findings.

Theoretical Framework

This section presents several academic theories and discusses them with relation to pedophilia and youth sexuality. Previous works that have incorporated these theories are cited, and I also discuss how these beliefs will be employed in analyzing my data.

Literature Review

In this section, I begin by presenting a brief history of moral legislation in the Netherlands. I discuss problems stemming from incorrect definitions of pedophilia in the media and then present popular arguments against adult/child relationships. Finally, I refute these arguments by discussing several recent studies that have focused on issues of cross-generational relationships and child abuse.


Before presenting my data, I briefly discuss some of the ideas and prejudices I held concerning pedophilia before beginning my study. I also state several of the hypotheses I held prior to conducting my research.

Data Collected

In this section I present general themes that surfaced in my interviews with pedophiles and professionals. I also present the results of the student survey and discuss the differences in responses among males and females.

Data Analysis

General interview themes and results of the survey are furthered in this section where I discuss my study in relation to the research question posed. I try to make general conclusions based on the various stories that were conveyed in the interviews, surveys and classroom discussions.


Given the results of my study and the general conclusions I was able to draw in the data analysis section, I make several recommendations for change in various aspects of society in regard to educating youth about sexuality. I also make recommendations for future age of consent legislation and suggest possible avenues for further research.

Theoretical Framework

Pedophilia is a broad topic that has been discussed from a number of perspectives with regard to adult/minor relationships, the age of consent and sexual abuse among other subjects. These viewpoints range from the essentialist, historical perspective that describes relationships among men and boys in ancient Greek and Roman societies (Halperin, 1994) to the social constructionist analysis of the development of children's sexualities (Plummer, 1991). This same topic is also sometimes explored using Freud's method of psychoanalysis (Broderick, 1968) or a humanist approach that advocates the liberation of children through increased self-determination (Blasius 1981, NAMBLA 1981). A post-modern view of adult/minor relations is presented by the Austrian lawyer Helmut Graupner (1999), who analyzes European human rights law and youth opinions on cross-generational sex, to suggest possible reforms for age of consent laws. In my research, I have found the post modernist approach and humanist perspectives most useful for rethinking the necessity of an age of consent law in the Netherlands.


Humanist perspectives on topics related to pedophilia are useful for a number of reasons. By utilizing beliefs that originated during the Enlightenment, they focus on the rational nature of man. They place an emphasis on individual choice and the ability to accept responsibility for one's actions. In doing so, arguments concerning the right of a child to engage in cross-generational sex remain focused on individual self-determination and rarely enter into a moral discourse. Psychological issues are considered, but in a sensible fashion that notes the various environments where children live, learn and grow. All aspects of a child's life are discussed in a reasonable manner that values the rights of the individual above any particular ideology. As a result, it is similar to the tolerant, permissive attitude that permeates Dutch society.


The post-modernist perspective is useful in confronting the myths of childhood that are often perpetuated by those opposed to man/boy love. It considers how childhood is continuously reconstructed depending on the political and moral climate of an era. For example, it was only in the 18th century that children were invented as asexual, innocent beings (Hekma lecture). Recent post-modernist arguments concerning children's sexualities have focused on the European Court on Human Rights case law and the ways in which their decisions have helped construct modern ideas of childhood in European countries. Legislation based on these decisions, such as age of consent restrictions, is also discussed along with the realities of sex among youth. In this way it is possible to envision children's liberation by deconstructing dominant cultural myths.


In addition to humanist and post-modern perspectives, I have found Michel Foucault's ideas of power and subjectivity quite useful in rethinking cross-generational sex and the age of consent. Presently, children are likely the most oppressed group throughout the world. They comprise one of the weakest and poorest segments of the population. Continually abused by such institutions of power as the scientific community, schools and so-called child protection agencies, they are in a seemingly endless struggle against domination and exploitation. Foucault's ideas of power and subjectivity illustrate the extent to which children are being victimized in society and allow for conceptualizing new ideas of childhood.

A combination of humanist, post-modern and Foucauldian perspectives is the best method for considering the popularized conceptions of pedophilia and their influence on age of consent legislation and youth sexuality. They allow for aspects of childhood and children's sexualities to be considered in a rational, practical and systematic manner. The child can be seen as an independent being, which is capable of self-determination. Cultural myths that surround childhood and pedophilia can be deconstructed and the effects of domination and exploitation are illustrated. One-dimensional perspectives that argue in favor of cross-generational sex on historical or scientific grounds are excluded and issues of morality are not considered. Instead, it is possible to conceive a multi-faceted argument that considers several aspects of a child's life --- one ultimately more appropriate for the complex world in which children live.

Literature Review

History of Moral Legislation in the Netherlands

Moral legislation only began to occupy a central part of the Dutch penal code at the end of the 19th century. Having been conquered by Napoleon in 1804, the Netherlands inherited Napoleonic code, which lacked any age of consent or other laws on sexual matters. Not until 1886 were the first age of consent laws established, stemming from concern over sexual hygiene problems and the widening separation of spheres between adults and children. Popular belief viewed children as "innocent, pure being(s) who should not come into contact with sex" (Sandfort, 1987, pp. 121-2). Especially among girls, sex was considered harmful, as virginity was "essential in property arranged marriages" (NAMBLA, 1981, p. 92). Heralded by the women's movement and sex reformers, the legislation was only later claimed as a useful tool by Christian political parties who voiced concern over "moral corruption" (Sandfort, 1987, pp. 121-2). Such implementation of the laws for political means remained largely unquestioned until the arrival of the sexual revolution in the 1960s.

With greater freedom and relaxed attitudes on sexual matters, the need for moral legislation seemed rather "old-fashioned," and a commission was formed to study the laws and recommend possible changes. Chaired by Mr. A. L. Melai, a criminal law professor at the University of Leiden, the commission began work in 1970 in the wake of a campaign to lower the age of consent for homosexual contacts from 21 to 16, which was the limit for heterosexual relations. This was achieved in 1971, when the commission began seriously studying the laws by asking a series of questions to various institutions. The inquisition resulted in a number of mostly progressive proposals that ranged from creating a new age of consent at 14 to abandoning such legislation altogether. This was supported by organizations ranging from the Protestant Alliance for Child Protection and the Association for Medical Sexology to the Netherlands Institute for Social Sexological Research (NISSO), who argued "children were already adequately protected by other articles in the penal code" (Sandfort, 1987, p. 123). Such suggestions were completely ignored by the advisory commission, which failed to mention any of these proposals in its final analysis.

While the advisory commission continued its study of moral laws, other organizations conducted independent investigations. In 1978, the NVSH concluded "that in cases of abuse there were already other articles in the Penal Code which did not cite ages that could be used in prosecutions" (Sandfort, 1987, p. 123). They also stated "that scientific study had not found sexual contact in itself harmful to children." These conclusions were supported in a separate study by the National Center for Public Mental Health, which argued there was no sound basis for continuing legal prohibitions against sexual contact between adults and children. They stated, "no one had yet demonstrated that voluntary sex contacts ever resulted in either psychological or physical harm" (Sandfort, 1987, p. 124). In their opinion, continued prohibitions were "an unjust invasion of an individual's right to sexual self determination..." (Sandfort, 1987, p. 124).

The results of these studies empowered pedophiles, who had been quietly working for legislative change in various workgroups, first established by the NVSH in 1971. As the advisory commission appeared to be concluding their study in 1979, pedophile groups decided to make one more assault on the age of consent by organizing a petition asking for liberalization of the moral laws. Supported by a number of political parties, influential organizations and esteemed scholars of philosophy, criminology, law and psychology, the petition suggested four criteria for punishing people who had sexual contact with minors. It stated: 1) Punish only where the contact harmed someone, 2) Do not punish when there are better ways to deal with the situation, 3) Do not give a punishment that causes more harm than the illegal act, and 4) Do not use vague, general penal provisions to prosecute individuals (Sandfort, 1987). The Child and Psychiatry Section of the Netherlands Psychiatric Society opposed this petition, stating it was drawn up with only pedophile interests in mind and that a child should not be allowed to engage in sexual acts with an adult even if he/she desires them. The advisory commission agreed with this institution and issued their final report in 1980, ten years after beginning the project (Sandfort, 1987).

As interest in liberalizing moral laws had waned over the years, the commission's report was somewhat ignored after publication. This was not surprising given the apparent lack of enthusiasm on behalf of the Minister of Justice to the commission's interim reports, which contributed to the length of the review. Legislative changes did not seem as necessary in the early '80s with police and prosecutors only selectively enforcing laws, evidenced by the decrease in the number of convictions for sex with a minor under 16 from 10.7 to 0.7 per 100,000 inhabitants between 1950 and 1982 (Schuijer, 1991). Eventually the need to close the review process surfaced, and a bill loosely based on the commission's report was introduced in November 1985. The bill agreed with the commission's recommendation to "limit the prohibition of sex with children under sixteen to those cases where the other party had initiated the contact" and set a new age restriction at 12 (Schuijer, 1993, p. 14). According to the bill, sexual contacts with individuals above twelve would only constitute a crime if the contacts had been induced or promoted by gifts, money, deception or abuse of a position of authority. The bill outraged the public, who believed "parents would lose their authority to prevent sexual contacts of their children" (Schuijer, 1993, p. 16). Letters of protest were sent to newspapers, and television and radio programs also addressed the issue. The bill seemed to be abandoned along with the comprehensive revision of moral laws until 1988, when the feminist movement agitated for stricter legislation on crimes of rape. Forced into action, the government began discussing the bill again and an amendment process was initiated, during which discrimination in the age of consent laws was discovered. Punishment for intercourse with a girl between 12 and 16 was an eight year jail sentence, but those who engaged in "penetrating" sex with boys received only a six year penalty. The Christian Democratic Alliance [CDA] proposed equalizing the sentence at eight years for both acts. After this amendment, another discriminatory measure was noticed, as it was also necessary to file a complaint in order to initiate an investigation against those who violated girls under 16. This stemmed from the original 1886 legislation, which believed a man who violated the chastity of a young girl could correct the error with marriage. It became clear that the only way to equalize the laws was to require a complaint for both boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 16. While anyone could report a crime, only the child, his/her parents or a child welfare organization could file a complaint. The measure was grudgingly accepted by the Christian Democrats and was passed in 1990 (Schuijer, 1993).

As per agreements made during the amendment process, the new legislation was evaluated several years after taking effect. In 1995, the Labor Party [PvdA] published a report stating "the high level of attention to prevention of sexual violence and abuse should not lead to prevention of, or intervention into, voluntary and desired sexual relations" (Schuijer, 1995, p. 65). Members of the Labor Party committee, who had been studying the implementation and impact of the law, were greatly disturbed by the changing social environment and the actions of police. According to the committee, "police investigations into suspected contacts with young people had occurred even when no request for prosecution had been lodged, and prosecutions had taken place against the explicit wishes of the youths involved" (Schuijer, 1995, p. 65). Most disturbing to members of the committee were the actions of the Amsterdam police, who had "discovered the media as a propaganda instrument with which to influence the lawmaking process." The report concluded by noting the "disturbing" and "submissive" way "in which the media have echoed the police version of facts..." (Schuijer, 1995, p. 71).

Problems with Definition

Police influence on the media in the wake of the Dutroux scandal and similar crimes in the Netherlands has led to general problems of definition when considering terms like "pedophile," "pedosexual" and "child abuser." Understandably, police largely view these individuals in relation to crime and often combine them into one category. In the process, the terms become intermingled and used interchangeably despite the different definitions. As a result, media reports are sometimes filled with inaccuracies, as when they refer to Dutroux as a "pedophile" rather than applying more factually accurate terms like "child abuser" or "sadistic killer" (BBC News Online, 1998, online).

The scientific definition of a pedophile stems from the word's Greek roots where "pedo-" is child and "-phile" means "love." Matthijs Koning defines it similarly, stating, a pedophile is someone who feels erotically attracted to children..." (interview). While the age of "youths" varies among definitions, it is generally accepted that they have not reached physical maturation. In doing so, they lose their appeal to the pedophile (Van Ree, 1999). It is important to note the lack of sexual acts in the definitions above. Popular belief concerning pedophilia often centers on the idea of children having sex with adults, but this varies depending on the relationship and sometimes never occurs. The definitions above also allow for the inclusion of "passive" pedophiles that might never act on their natural feelings. As the Dutch sexologist, Dr. Edward Brongersma, once wrote (1990), "A man (or woman) can only be considered a pedophile if, for him (or her), children are the most important elicitors of sexual arousal" (p. 70).

Those who are attracted to youth who are in the transitional phase between pubescence and maturity are sometimes defined as "ephebophiles." They occupy a "transitional area between homophile pedophilia and adult homosexuality" (Van Ree, 1999, p. 8). Usually included in the category of pedophiles, ephebophilia differs in that it is not completely criminalized in most countries. As age of consent laws continue to hover between 14 and 16 in certain areas, some ephebophile relationships are legally possible. As with pedophiles, there is absolutely no evidence to "assume that... ephebophiles should specifically tend toward (aggressive) criminal behavior" (Van Ree, 2000, p. 7). As Dutch psychiatrist, Dr. Frank van Ree, states (2000), "Aggressivity and violent action are not orientation specific" (p. 7).

Pedosexuality is another word with various definitions that is sometimes used interchangeably with "pedophilia" or "pedophile." Although it is often defined as "sexual acts with children" or "acting upon pedophilia" (Koning interview), Brongersma presents a more complex definition. According to him, pedosexuality involves "sexual acts with children," but it is also a form of child abuse as the adult is engaging in these activities against the will of the child solely to satisfy his/her needs (Brongersma, 1986, p. 71). He characterizes the acts as violent and states they can be committed by any individual regardless of sexual object choice. Although there is no evidence to suggest that any particular group commits these acts more frequently, Brongersma suggests that when a hetero- or homophile engages in a pedosexual act, the child is being substituted for an adult. Therefore, he believes a distinction should be made between a pedophile and a pseudo-pedophile who engages in a pedosexual act.

Arguments Against Pedophilia and Lowering the Age of Consent

When considering pedophile relations or lowering the age of consent, many envision encounters characterized by Brongersma's definition of a pedosexual. In doing so, the belief arises that relations between adults and children are always abusive and damaging. It is then that the following arguments are used to defend the age of consent and children's sexuality.

Children Are Not Mature Enough for Sex

The idea that children are not mature enough to engage in sex has lost validity over the years, but it is frequently cited when adult/child relations are discussed. Those who argue this point fail to realize "that humans are sexual from birth on and that sexual arousal, even orgasmic experience, can take place from a very early age" (Graupner, 1999, p. 30). As Van Ree states (1999), "cuddling, kissing, caressing and masturbation belong to the world of babies and small children as well as young people and adults" (p. 8). The child may view sex differently than an adult, but the fact that it is "interesting" and "arouses good feelings" is difficult to deny. According to Helmut Graupner (1999), "When the play is not interesting anymore, the child stops it..." (p. 32). Eventually, the right to sexuality and self-determination of the body develops, and as sexologists increasingly state, the child has a right "to pleasurable experience of its own body" (Graupner, 1999, p. 30).

Sex With Children Is Exploitative

Despite evidence to the contrary, sex between adults and children is generally viewed as abuse and exploitation, as many believe it is practiced solely to gratify the sexual needs of the adult. Age of consent laws are touted as protecting children from such situations, but sexual violence against children is still occurring. When physical abuse, threats, coercion or other transgressions are discovered, they are invariably processed under existing criminal law. Rarely is anyone charged merely with violating an age of consent law. As few people are processed under age of consent statutes, and the legislation is not effective in preventing acts of sexual violence against children, it is therefore superfluous.

There is an Inequality of Power

While the child is mature enough to engage in sex and has a right to enjoy its own body, a question remains whether relations with adults should include a sexual aspect due to the vast difference in power. However, such an argument assumes that equal relationships are the norm in society and this is not true. Most relationships, regardless of sexual orientation, are unequal in some fashion. Perhaps one partner is physically stronger, better educated, makes more money or comes from a higher social class. Any one of these factors or a number of others can upset the balance of power in a relationship. Also unequal in nature are relationships involving doctor/patient, teacher/student, priest/parishoner and parent/child, among others. It is clear that the difference in power should not be as much of an issue as the way it is used in a relationship. As Van Ree states (2000), "...the possibility of deception and abuse may not be identified with actual deceit and abuse" (p. 9). In his opinion, a difference in power does not automatically mean there will be an abuse of power. Furthermore, "with the proper concern for the young partner, the older person will adapt himself to the desires of the child, just as adult partners in fact are supposed to do with each other" (Van Ree, 2000, p. 9).

A Child Cannot Give Informed Consent

As other arguments have failed, the ability of a child to give consent has been questioned. Some have stated that children can agree to a sexual act, but such consent should not be considered valid, as a child cannot have a "mature understanding of the consequences of an action" (Graupner, 1999, p. 31). By this definition of "consent," there are many adults who are not ready to engage in sexual acts. Graupner (1999) argues that such a definition causes sexual encounters to lose their "special excitement," "charm," and "possibility for surprise." According to him, consent should merely be willingness for sexual activity to occur (p. 31). As Van Ree states, even babies can give consent as they cry, kick and scream to express hunger, pain or frustration. Therefore, it is certainly possible for "verbal children and adolescents" to express consent or dissent (Van Ree, 1999, p. 8).

There Is a Risk of Pregnancy, STDs and AIDS

Another concern that surfaces when considering adult/child relations is the risk of pregnancy, STDs and AIDS. Not all sexual practices carry these risks, though, and such diseases can be prevented with proper protective measures (Graupner, 1999). As Nathan Paul stated in an interview, "Children may not use protection when having sex with each other, but an older person is probably aware of such issues."

Psychological and Emotional Damage

Finally, there is the argument that adult/child sexual relationships cause permanent psychological and emotional damage to the child. A thorough analysis of empirical research demonstrates the falsity of this argument. It is not sexual stimulation itself that causes developmental impairment, but the violation of the child's autonomy and self-determination (Graupner, 1999). Recent research has also indicated that an intolerant social and moral climate may cause more harm to the child than actual sexual contact.

Empirical Research

Constantine (1981)

The first major empirical research to refute the claims of child abuse specialists was published by American researcher, Larry Constantine, in 1981. Prior to his work, studies on adult/child relations nearly always maintained a narrow focus on sexual contact, and they proceeded on the basis that any type of sexual contact between an adult and a child constituted abuse (Jones, 1991). Constantine analyzed thirty such studies concerning the sexual experiences of children that were published between 1928 and 1980. After imposing a number of standard measures, Constantine concluded "the chance of negative consequences (after a sexual encounter) is smaller to the degree that the young persons 1) have the feeling that they are free to withdraw from the situation if they wish to; 2) are knowledgeable about the area of sexuality; 3) connect sexuality less with feelings of shame and guilt" (Goslinga, 1998, p. 5). Constantine's research was groundbreaking, but remained somewhat obscure until fellow American researchers, Bauserman, Rind and Tromovitch, published a more recent work.

Bauserman, Rind and Tromovitch (1998)

The work of these scientists has gained worldwide attention and was presented at a conference in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in December 1998. The study was a response to the large amounts of scientific literature on child sexual abuse (CSA), which have influenced the world of mental health care, politics, police, courts, media and the public at large to assume that the following is true of all sexual relations between children and adults: 1) they cause harm; 2) this harm is pervasive; 3) this harm is usually intense; 4) it is equally strong and equally negative for boys and girls (J.R.F. [edit], 1999). Many of these assumptions are based on research among clinical populations (people who are in therapy) and are believed to be true for all of society. Bauserman, Rind and Tromovitch used these assumptions as a basis for their work, which consisted of a meta-analysis of 54 other studies that focused on the sexual experiences of college students during their childhood. These studies were selected because they provide results that can be generally compared and are more representative of society than studies conducted only among clinical populations. A number also give information about the reaction of the students to consensual youthful sexual experiences, as well as factors that influence the seriousness of harm. The result of the study showed a relation between CSA experiences and poor adjustment. However, the link is small and other causes appear to be more important, such as the family situation (De Jong and Gieles, 1999). Presenting experiences involving coercion along with consensual contacts gives a distorted picture, as "the general assumption that youthful sexual experiences are harmful, and that this damage is pervasive and generally intense, is not confirmed by this research" (J.R.F. [edit], 1999, p. 10). Finally, the belief that boys and girls suffer the same amount of harm "does not appear tenable" (J.R.F. [edit], 1999, p. 10).

Sandfort (1981)

Another researcher who has devoted a great deal of work to the study of children involved in sexual relations with adults is Theo Sandfort. In 1981, he published a work describing the "experiential world" of twenty-five boys involved in homosexual pedophile relations. The study was unique in that it focused solely on children and consisted of several interviews with each subject. According to Sandfort, "The boys overwhelmingly experienced their sexual contact with the older partner as pleasant; such negative feelings as occurred had mainly to do with their social surroundings, which they knew disapproved of such contacts" (Sandfort, 1987, p. 134). The boys also stated that the friendships were not based on sex alone and that bad behavior by the older partner almost never occurred. A number of the children emphasized, "that outsiders shouldn't make problems about it (their relationships) and that they themselves ought to have the right to decide what they wanted to do" (Sandfort, 1987, p. 135). As a result, there was nothing to justify any type of punishment except the violation of moral standards.

Verwey-Jonker Institute (1998)

In recent years, the Verwey-Jonker Institute, a private organization in the Netherlands, conducted a study on cross-generational relationships and age of consent legislation. The study was published in 1998 and included a panel of experts, who went to various schools and had conversations with students between twelve and sixteen about the current age of consent law. The discussions centered on the complaint system in the law for twelve to sixteen year olds. The students overwhelmingly supported this system, believing it "essential to decide for themselves what they want to do and what they don't want to do in the sexual field" (Van Bijsterveldt, 2000, forthcoming). Even those who are not ready to engage in sex believed it is important that they be able to determine their own sexual path, as well as the ways in which they will express their sexual desires. When specifically questioned about relationships involving a ten year difference in age, the students continued to overwhelmingly express the importance of self-determination. The same view triumphed when asked about a twenty-five year difference in age between partners (Van Bijsterveldt, 2000).


At the beginning of my study, I held a number of assumptions regarding pedophilia, age of consent legislation and the sexuality of youth in the Netherlands. Perhaps, most interesting was my ignorance and fear of defending pedophilia. Given the information I had encountered in newspapers, radio and television programs, I believed it was bad and a form of child abuse. However, I also believed youth were capable of making their own decisions and could romantically love an adult. I believed such relationships should be encouraged when they arose and that age of consent laws hindered this possibility. These laws also appeared to be another way that society oppresses youth, and I expected this would not be the case in the Netherlands, given its reputation as a tolerant country. I believed Dutch youth would be more comfortable talking about sex than students in other countries due to the prevalence of sex in the Red Light district and pornography shops. I thought sexual education would be a natural part of every child's school curriculum and would begin at an early age.

Data Collected

In the following section, the findings of my interviews with pedophiles and professionals are presented in relation to major themes that were discussed. This information is combined with the findings of the student survey in the data analysis section where broader conclusions are made.

Pedophiles and Professionals

Identity Problems and Defining a Pedophile

Among the pedophiles interviewed, there seems to be a problem involving identification. Each gave a different definition of a "pedophile" and none identified as one. Koning, a nineteen year old freelance translator, and De Wit, a fifty-nine year old retired businessman, defined the term in relation to classical Greek ideas or scientific definitions, and were most outspoken against such an identity. They believe it is far too restrictive and does not provide a true representation of an individual. As Koning states, "I am a pedophile, an ephebophile, a homosexual, a bisexual and a heterosexual. Tags are of inferior importance. A person can be all-encompassing, or encompass exactly what he damn-well likes" (interview). Paul, a thirty-five year old therapeutic aid, prefers the media's definition of a pedophile and defined it similarly. In his opinion, the media has claimed the term by repeatedly defining it as a monster that preys on children. As a result, he does not believe the term can be reclaimed and refuses to state it as his identity. Paul prefers "child lover," which he feels is far less stereotyped in popular culture (interview). Given this, it might be better to refer to pedophile individuals in terms of their behavior, as there were no differences among the informants in this regard. Each identified with being erotically attracted to children and problems only arose when asked to label this attraction. By referring to pedophiles in terms of behavior, these problems are avoided, and the collective sense of identity shared by individuals attracted to children is more readily acknowledged. Among professionals, definitions of pedophiles remained scientific. They focused on an individual's "liking" or "main desire" for children, and did not mention sexual activity. Some interviewed, like Smeets and Dankmeijer, admitted to having their own stereotype or definition of a pedophile, but they preferred to use scientific definitions in their work. Everyone agreed that the media has abused the term and created a new definition, which is now the belief of the general public.

The Effect of the Current Social and Moral Climate on Youth

The pedophiles interviewed believed strongly that the current social and moral climate is having an adverse affect on youth. As Koning states, "Society likes to think the worst when it hears 'pedophile' or 'pedophilia.' The age gap is usually thought immense, the youth is consistently termed a 'victim' and the adult an 'offender'" (interview). De Wit and Paul support this claim, believing the media frenzy involved with the Dutroux scandal, and the rise of the child abuse industry has created an image of a pedophile as a gruesome monster. According to them, this image is being perpetuated in the media and used in schools. Youth are being taught to fear older individuals and are inheriting a prejudice that they will harbor throughout their lives and pass on to their children. They are becoming part of a cycle of discrimination that will be difficult to stop.

Professionals feel similarly about the current situation in the Netherlands. As Smeets stated, Dutroux was the major starting point, but other recent pornography cases and repeat offenses by child sex offenders have enraged the public. Others agreed, including Kraakman, who noted the current social and moral climate is more harmful to a child than most sexual experiences could ever be. She also implied that a child who has an enjoyable experience with an adult might come to view it negatively as a result of current ideals. This was also discussed by Dankmeijer, who believes the climate is harmful for children who wish to pursue a relationship with an adult, as a complaint filed by a disapproving parent would be taken very seriously by the police. In short, the social and moral climate discourages children from pursuing relationships with adults and punishes those who try to exercise their right to self-determination.

Pedophile Relationships and Differing Views on the Sexuality of Children

De Wit and Paul are active pedophiles and the experiences they described having with children were remarkably similar. For both, friendship with children is more important than sexual elements. Their relationships often begin with shared activities, like skiing, hiking, camping, exploring the wilderness and going to movies and concerts. According to Paul, "The kids and I do everything. I've always found with any lasting contact that I've been a big brother or a fatherly figure" (interview). This is also true of De Wit, who states, "My relationships aren't about sex. It is about being a part of their life" (interview). Each makes a point of communicating with their friends on an equal level, and this is sometimes easier when the children have already had experiences with older individuals. As Paul states, "They know what they want and they go out and look for it" (interview). According to him, most of his relationships have been initiated by children, usually between the ages of ten and fourteen. When sexual relations do occur, Paul and De Wit stress that the youth is in control. Activities range from massage and masturbation to oral sex and sometimes anal intercourse. With the current legal situation throughout the world, Paul and De Wit realize they are taking a chance when they engage in sexual activities with youth. However, age of consent legislation has not deterred them from pursuing relationships with youth, and future encounters will likely remain unaffected. As Paul states, "If the situation arises, I am going to take it" (interview).

The idea of a youth initiating a relationship with an adult does not seem as implausible given the statements of professionals regarding the sexuality of children. Each agreed youth are sexual from birth, but that parents do not like to acknowledge the fact. According to Dankmeijer, "children are actively desexualized," and the activities of those under 12 are not expected to be sexual (interview). As Kraakman states, "youth are not naturally innocent," and sexual experimentation among children is normal (interview). Rademakers also sees sexuality as a natural part of a child's life, but believes it is a continual process with different stages that are experienced at various ages. In her opinion, "Children have to be the subject in their own development" (interview). Each child is different and should make choices regarding sexual matters based on their comfort level and natural desires.

This contradiction between scientific views of children's sexuality and general societal feelings is one reason why more education is needed. As Kraakman states, "I wish children and parents would be more at ease with the ingredients of sex" (interview). She believes education should become a part of their upbringing and that sexuality should be viewed as more of a natural thing. Dankmeijer agrees, but also notes the problem parents have in talking to their children about sex. Although he believes some new material produced by the Family Planning group is helpful in educating younger children, he feels the inherent morals are problematic in that they reproduce stereotypic notions of boys as perpetrators and girls as victims. In his opinion, a revolutionary curriculum would do away with this binary, and possibly the discriminatory ideas of adult/child relations as well.

Response to Arguments

According to the pedophiles interviewed, arguments against adult/child relations on the basis of an inequality of power are groundless. Each agreed that there is a power differential between adults and children, but they also stated that such a difference does not necessarily result in abuse. As Koning claims, "I do not see how one must follow from the other. Otherwise... any type of interaction an adult undertakes with a child is abusive---taking them swimming, to church, putting them in school, playing games with them---there is always a difference in perspective, but it does not necessarily constitute 'abuse'" (interview). De Wit also discussed how the idea of an equal relationship is a myth. In his opinion, such a thing does not exist because one partner may be stronger, better educated or come from a higher social status. There are a number of differences that can upset the balance of power, and an equal relationship is therefore implausible.

Pedophile informants also found impossible the feminist argument that abolishing the age of consent will lead to an increase in child abuse among young girls. De Wit believes there may be an increase in sexual activity between adults and girls, but he does not view this sexual activity specifically as abuse. Koning feels girls are harmed more by "anti-sexual conceptions" and abolishing the age of consent would contribute to changing these views (interview). Paul noted several new studies that have focused on the number of women who are abusive toward children, and he urged more attention be focused to such situations. In his opinion, men are too often associated as "perpetrators" and women as "victims." According to him, this binary is not always true and hopefully the new studies being published will work to destroy it.

Among the professionals interviewed, there was a mixture of outrage and bewilderment at the feminist claim. Dankmeijer believed the argument was "nonsense," stating the hypothesis is flawed in that it assumes men are perpetrators, and the only reason they refrain from abusing young girls is because it is forbidden (interview). Similarly, Rademakers argued that child abuse is neither caused nor prevented by a law. In her opinion, there are a number of other determinants that contribute to abuse. Kraakman and Smeets held a more humanist view, believing children in the Netherlands know how to say "no," should an unwanted sexual situation arise (interview).

Although not specifically questioned on the inequality of power in adult/child relations, some professionals commented on this argument. Most emphatic was Rademakers, who stated, "Pre-adolescent children should have the right to explore and to be informed, but they have to be protected from (sexual) situations in which they are not equal partners" (interview). By equal partners, she means that the child should also want to engage in the relationship and not be manipulated or coerced into doing something he/she does not wish too. This view was supported by Kraakman, who also noted the harm in keeping children away from a relationship they truly desire. Smeets and Dankmeijer did not comment on the issue, but likely hold a more progressive view given their belief in abolishing age of consent legislation.

Views on Age of Consent Legislation and Effects on Youth

Each of the pedophiles questioned also viewed age of consent legislation negatively, primarily as a result of the psychological damage they have experienced by being criminalized. This has contributed to the development of three distinct groups of pedophiles. Most can be classified as part of the first group, consisting of extremely scared individuals, who are incapable of doing anything to try and better their plight. They live completely in fear and repress or ignore their desires for youth. A smaller group has accepted their sexuality and is collectively working for legislative change by writing letters of protest, creating magazines and appearing on television and radio programs. A third group of individuals are completely destroyed by the current situation and incapable of thinking rationally. These people can be dangerous, as they are often severely depressed and may be suicidal. They act without considering the consequences and can cause irreparable harm to themselves and others through suicide, drug and alcohol dependency, physical or verbal abuse and many other means. It is important to note that not all pedophiles can be classified into one of these groups and that some may have characteristics of several categories. This classification system is merely a method for better understanding the plight of some pedophiles in Dutch society.

The pedophile informants also believed age of consent legislation has negative effects on youth. According to Paul, they teach children to fear adults and contribute to a lack of trusting older people in society. This manifests itself in ageism, which limits the perceptions of youth to a strict old/young binary. Koning also feels such legislation can cause psychological trauma to youth by encouraging them to fight against their natural instincts to engage in a relationship with an older individual. The result of these effects is a general restriction on the freedom of youth to express themselves sexually.

While feelings among professionals concerning age of consent laws differed by gender, each believe current legislation needs to be revised. As previously stated, Dankmeijer and Smeets do not believe age of consent legislation is necessary, as it fails to protect children from being abused. In their opinion, such legislation serves no purpose and more legal emphasis should be placed on dealing with people who are abusive. Kraakman believes such legislation is necessary to provide an avenue for those who have been abused to pursue legal redress. According to her, the law should be used as a last resort and only enforced on abusive contacts. Similarly, Rademakers felt an age limit is necessary for establishing a boundary at which youth are generally able to make a decision, but that legislation should not be strictly enforced. In her opinion, as long as children remain in control of decisions relating to their sexual lives, law enforcement should not interfere.

Most of the professionals interviewed did not perceive age of consent legislation as causing any direct harm to youth. As previously discussed, they believe most of the harm inflicted on youth is a result of the current social and moral climate within Western Europe. However, Smeets also felt current age of consent legislation and proposed changes to the laws are very detrimental to gay and lesbian teenagers, as they often experiment with older people. In his opinion, such legislation can keep these teenagers from entering into relationships or receiving guidance and support from a local gay and lesbian organization. It is his hope that any rethinking of age of consent legislation will take these problems into account.

Ideas for Legal Reform

Ideas for legal reform varied greatly among pedophiles. While Koning believes age of consent laws are superfluous and should be abolished, De Wit feels they only need to be modified. In his opinion, age of consent legislation should include the rights of minors in regard to sexual activity. When abuse is believed, he thinks psychologists or sexologists should investigate the case. Police and other legal officials should only become involved after a member of the scientific community makes an analysis. According to De Wit, "Right now it is in the wrong place. These are social, sexological and psychological matters. Police... don't know how to handle these issues" (interview).

Paul is open to other forms of change, like the development and implementation of abuse of trust laws. The idea for this legislation surfaced in England during a recent age of consent debate. It was proposed to equalize the age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual male sex at 16, but also create an abuse of trust law to "protect" 16 to 18 year olds from being coerced, pressured or forced into sex by anyone in a position of power. Such legislation would enable minors in this age group to file a complaint or bring criminal charges if intercourse had occurred. Paul supports implementing such legislation in place of the current age of consent laws in the Netherlands. According to him, "It would be a whole lot better than what we have now" (interview).

Professionals interviewed were also somewhat open to abuse of trust legislation; however, they noted a number of flaws with the proposal. As Kraakman states, "Sometimes children only know after awhile if they were abused" (interview). She proposed setting a time limit in which the minor could file a complaint. Smeets noted more serious problems, recognizing how minors could easily abuse such a law by threatening their partner with extortion or a number of other measures. Dankmeijer and Rademakers also liked the proposal and suggested implementing it for ages twelve and below, while allowing teenagers the right to self-determination.


In the following section, the results of the student survey are presented and some general conclusions are drawn. Where there is a contradiction or other interesting result, I have provided an interpretation and possible explanations. These conclusions are discussed with relation to the responses of pedophile and professional informants in the data analysis section.

Comfort Level with Discussing Sexual Issues

During the two week survey at Fons Vitae Lyceum, I was able to make several observations regarding the students' comfort level with discussing sexual issues. Most surprising for me was the general uneasiness among the students in considering such matters. When I introduced myself and discussed the study, there were murmurs throughout the classroom. Filling in the survey, students squirmed in their chairs, blushed, laughed and glanced around the room. Those sitting at larger tables sometimes tried to compare answers, and several boys rose in the middle of the survey and attempted to discuss a question with a friend on the other side of the room. After everyone completed the survey and the students were allowed to ask questions on any subject, the conversations largely remained focused on areas of sexuality. Several teachers later stated the students never really had an opportunity to discuss such issues, especially those involving homosexuality. This topic arose in each discussion, as well as questions related to adult/child relationships. In general, the students had a lot to say on these matters, but it seemed like they lacked a regular forum for such discussion. As one teacher stated, she wished there were more ways to discuss these issues in class.

Relationship with Parents and Adults Regarding Sex

Although opinions differed by gender, the students surveyed generally feel they can talk to their parents about sex and that adults listen to their opinions on sexual issues. 70% believe they can talk to their parents about sexual issues at least some of the time and 52% feel they can do so most of the time. Similarly, 75% feel adults listen to their opinions about sex at least some of the time and 48% believe their opinions are heard most of the time. However, it is important to note the way in which these questions were asked. The students were questioned as to how often they felt they could talk to their parents about sex and how often they felt adults listened to their opinions on sex. Nothing is asked concerning how often students do talk to parents or adults about sex. Also, students may have answered these questions with regard to what they thought would happen if they wanted to or did voice their opinion on sexual issues. Therefore, it is important to note how the phrasing of the questions may have influenced these responses.

Views on Age of Consent Laws

Given the results of the survey, students appear to have contradictory feelings regarding age of consent legislation. When asked how they felt about such laws, 58% believed they needed to be changed so children could be protected, but also allowed to engage in sexual relationships with anyone of any age. 29% believed they are neither good nor bad, but necessary to prevent children from abuse and 14% thought they were good and serve a useful purpose.

However, when questioned specifically about adult/child relationships, responses differed. Students overwhelmingly believe that adults are sometimes attracted to children (96%) and an almost exact amount (97%) believe children are attracted to adults. Nevertheless, the general view is that neither should act on their feelings. 99% believed adults should refrain from pursuing relationships with youth and 93% thought youth should not sexually involve themselves with adults.

As there are several possible explanations for the differing answers of the students, it is impossible to reach a final conclusion regarding the contradiction. One possible reason for the responses is that the students want the right to have sex with anyone of any age, but have also been socially conditioned to think that children and adults should not engage in a sexual relationship. Another possibility is that the students answered with regard to their emotional conceptions. They want the right to engage in sex with adults, but believe children should be protected from abuse. The students might feel this is only possible if the children and adults refrain from engaging in a sexual relationship. Answers may also have been influenced by memories of the Dutroux scandal. The students may have associated him as an adult who felt attracted to children and therefore decided that adults and children should not act on their feelings. Finally, the answers could be a plea for more education among younger children regarding abusive situations. The students may feel that if this occurs, children should be allowed to have sex with anyone of any age.

Views on Pedophiles

According to those surveyed, students hold a somewhat tolerant view of pedophiles. When asked to define the word, three types of definitions repeatedly surfaced. The first can be classified as judgmental or value laden and usually described a relationship in which there is an extreme difference in age between partners. These definitions described a pedophile as a "sick," "perverted" individual and focused on force, abuse and unwanted sexual acts that invariably hurt the child. Approximately 40% of the students surveyed defined a pedophile in this fashion. Another popular definition given by approximately 55% of the students was more neutral and emphasized the sexual acts between two partners. The important factor in this definition was the idea that one individual is legally an adult and the other technically a minor, but they might be close in age. Value judgments and adjectives focusing on force and abuse were absent in these definitions. Approximately 5% of the students offered a more positive definition. These emphasized an adult, who "likes," "loves," or "feels attracted" to children. Less focus is placed on sex and value judgments and negative terms are absent. In analyzing the definitions, it is also interesting to note that only 8% specifically referred to a pedophile as a male. Most students used gender-neutral terms, such as "person" or "individual" and others used "man/woman." Students seemed to realize that both men and women could be pedophiles.

The tolerant view of pedophilia was also illustrated to a lesser degree in two multiple choice questions. When asked if a pedophile was a child abuser, only 57% of the students answered "yes." 31% of the students answered "maybe/sometimes," 10% answered "no" and 2% stated they did not know. In a following question, only 31% of the students said adults who are attracted to children need help. 65% stated they can be attracted to children, but should not act on their feelings, and no one believed they should pursue a relationship.

Differences in Responses among Males and Females

In analyzing the surveys, there appeared to be several significant differences in the responses among males and females. First, girls are starting to learn about sex at an earlier age than boys. 42% of the girls surveyed had started learning about sex by age ten compared to only 17% of boys. This trend continued through age twelve, when 88% of girls had started learning about sex compared to 58% of boys. One possible reason for this could be that girls are more comfortable talking to their parents about sex. 84% of the girls surveyed felt they could communicate about sexual issues at least some of the time with their parents compared to only 55% of boys.

Another interesting difference among the genders surfaced in their responses to age of consent laws. 23% of boys believe such legislation is good compared to only 4% of girls. 66% of girls want the legislation to be changed and just 49% of the boys believe this is necessary.

In their feelings on adult/child relations, girls also appeared to hold more tolerant views. 78% believed it was okay for an adult to be attracted to a child and 21% thought someone with these feelings needed help. Only 51% of the boys believe it is okay for an adult to be attracted to a child, and 42% stated people with these feelings need help.

Finally, there were significant differences among the genders in their definitions of sex and the words they most often associate with it. Girls tended to place an emphasis on intimacy in their definitions, associating "love" 78% of the time and such words as "romance," "relationship" and "boyfriend." Boys generally viewed sex more as a game or something to do for fun. Definitions focused on sexual acts, body parts and places to have sex. Love was mentioned only 31% of the time and other words the boys frequently associated with sex included "fuck" and "condom."

Given this information, girls appear to hold a more liberal view of sex. They are more comfortable talking to adults about such issues, a higher percentage believe age of consent laws need to be changed and they are more tolerant of adults who are attracted to children. They also define sex in a more romantic fashion by emphasizing love, intimacy and relationships. Perhaps these are merely the results of starting to learn about sex at an earlier age than boys, but they remain noteworthy.

Data Analysis

From the findings presented above, four significant conclusions can be drawn. The following section discusses these in some depth.

Demonization of Pedophiles

Given the pedophiles' stories in the previous section and the current situation in the Netherlands, it is evident that they are a demonized group. While society has never been accepting of pedophilia, it seems to have been tolerated somewhat during the '70s, when several reports were published concerning the necessity of moral legislation. During the '80s and early '90s, some steps were taken to lower the age of consent, but the questioning of moral legislation had gradually waned. After the Dutroux scandal in the mid-'90s, society's conceptions of pedophiles changed and individuals attracted to children were increasingly demonized.

The effect of this demonization can be seen in two of the pedophile groups classified by Koning, De Wit and Paul. As they stated, the largest is a group of completely disempowered individuals, who suppress or reject their urges. They are interested only in finding a way to survive in a society seemingly determined to extinguish them. Another group is so frustrated by their status that they are incapable of thinking logically anymore. They tend to act dangerously without considering the consequences, only recognizing them too late or when confronted with their actions. As De Wit stated, this group will continue to grow so long as feelings of tension among pedophiles are met with too few resources to relieve their stress (interview).

Given the pedophile, professional and student responses, it is clear that pedophilia is now largely viewed from a criminalizing point of view. In considering pedophile relations, people usually envision an extreme difference in age where the adult forces the child to engage in violent sex acts. According to this myth, the child is invariably scarred for life and incapable of functioning in society without psychiatric help. Although these views have been refuted by numerous studies, they remain the "truth" of pedophilia for a large part of society. As a result, pedophiles are subjectified as criminals and viewed as a great threat to the well-being of children. The ultimate manifestation of these feelings is additional pressure on parliament to create further "protective" legislation, which only succeeds in harming everyone by supporting an environment of fear.

The Myth of Children's Sexuality

In perpetuating the "truth" of pedophiles, society also clings to a myth of children's sexuality. Despite scientific evidence to the contrary, general societal views of children's sexuality remain focused on the child as an asexual innocent who needs to be protected. This view actively desexualizes children and denies their sexual nature. The classic games children play, like doctor and nurse, are not viewed as sexual, and the idea that children will only become sexual with the onset of puberty remains a societal norm. In denying children's sexual nature, adults free themselves from the discomfort of talking about sexual matters and condone and/or promote a fight against nature.

Fight Against Nature

The effects of denying children's sexuality and encouraging them to fight against nature are extremely negative and hold the possibility for psychological damage. Given the embarrassment adults experience when talking about sex, children may develop a similar discomfort and come to view sex negatively. As a result, they may try to suppress their sexual urges, which could cause psychological damage. Those who act on their desires may also be harmed if they engage in a cross-generational relationship or similar morally objectionable relation. The stigmatization a child would experience in such a relationship could cause extreme harm even though he/she mentally and physically desires such an association. Presently, there are too few systems of support for children who act on their sexual desires and begin a cross-generational relationship. Like children, pedophiles are encouraged to fight against nature. Their sexuality is similarly denied and labeled by many as "sick" and "perverted." Though they also may suffer severe psychological damage by suppressing their sexual urges, the consequences of acting on their desires can be far worse. With calls for chemical castration of all sex criminals and lifelong treatment, engaging in a relationship with a youth involves extreme risks. For even if the child is a consenting partner, many in society believe the pedophile should still be punished. Some police have adopted this view as evidence suggests investigations often take place against the will of the child when no complaint has been filed. This is not only the ultimate violation of a child's right to self-determination, but also a great threat to pedophiles, who sometimes risk their lives for the possibility of love.

Effect of Conceptions of Pedophilia on Youth

While conceptions of pedophilia do not have a direct effect on the sexual well-being of youth, they indirectly affect minors by fostering ideas of ageism and an old/young binary. As Paul stated in an interview, conceptions of pedophilia teach children to fear adults and contribute to a lack of trusting older people in society. They reinforce the idea that youth and adults should inhabit separate spheres and rarely interact with each other except in familial and professional circumstances. However, such ideas also further the moral opinion that children and adults should not be sexually involved. In fostering ageism and an old/young binary, society assures that the stigmatization of cross-generational relationships will be perpetuated throughout generations.


Recommendations for Change

In conducting my research, a major theme in the discussions with pedophiles, professionals and youth was the need for change in societal conceptions of sexuality. Although no clear proposals surfaced, pedophiles and professionals were united in the idea that sexuality needs to be viewed as more of a natural thing. There were strong feelings that sexual education should become an immediate part of a child's life upon starting primary school. Such education should not only address health and protective matters, but also varying sexual situations. Children should learn about coercion and the various manifestations it can take. Elements of abusive situations should be described, and children should learn their rights in regard to sexual matters and the process for exacting legal redress, should they feel one of their rights has been violated. Age of consent legislation should be temporarily suspended and replaced by abuse of trust legislation, while these educational alternatives are initiated and their effectiveness evaluated. However, such legislation should not include any age restrictions and should be applied evenly to all demographics of the population. These strategies hold a real possibility for protecting children from abuse and should be objectively considered and implemented.


In attempting to answer the research question posed at the beginning of the study, it has become clear that age of consent legislation is directly influenced by conceptions of pedophilia. However, the sexual well-being of youth is influenced more by societal conceptions of youth sexuality. The current social and moral climate in the Netherlands is psychologically damaging to pedophiles and youth, and steps have been taken to ensure the continuation of present beliefs. In order to combat social and moral prejudice, it is necessary for people to set aside their ideas and opinions about pedophilia and look at the current situation rationally and objectively. Only in this way can children ever really be protected.

Recommendations for Further Research

Issues of pedophilia and cross-generational love remain a relatively unexplored area of academic study. Few scientists have conducted research in these fields, and even fewer have published findings that present these issues positively. In doing so, a scientist risks committing professional suicide, as evident by the attacks on Bauserman, Rind, Tromovitch and Sandfort by all segments of the population following the publication of their studies. For those still intent on studying these issues, I see a number of areas in need of further research. The phenomenon of female pedophilia is in desperate need of study, as it is often overshadowed by male pedophilia or forgotten altogether. The recent Mary Kay Letourneau scandal in the United States has reinforced the idea that female pedophiles do exist, and it is important to hear their stories. It would also be interesting to look at the influence of the feminist movement on moral legislation and its contributions to fostering the victims' rights movement (Goslinga, 1999). To what degree did feminists, through fostering a victims' rights movement, serve as a catalyst for the current demonization of pedophiles? A Marxist analysis of pedophilia could look at the child abuse industry---the network of counselors, lawyers, police and psychologists, who largely depend on the perpetuation of abuse for their livelihood. It might also consider the oppression of children and their lack of access to money (Blasius, 1981). In a capitalist society that runs almost entirely on money, this is a powerful tool to oppress children. Another interesting idea for study is the necessity of taboo (Van Ree, 2000). To what extent does society need taboos in order to function? What purpose does taboo serve in society and how did it first develop? Finally, the perpetrator/victim binary should be examined, as well as the idea that society has largely become an "olympics of suffering" (Goslinga, 1999). To what degree are people competing with each other to prove one person's suffering is greater than another? How does this internal battle to claim the "mountain of suffering" contribute to further oppression? It is through answering these questions that society can be reclaimed from hysteria and prejudice. Only then will all types of relationships be allowed to flourish.


Appendix A: Student / Age of Consent Survey

Please answer the following questions in English or circle the appropriate answer.

Age: _________ Sex: _________ Race: _________

1) What is your definition of "sex"?

2) What 5 words do you most often associate with the word "sex"?

3) At what age did you first have sexual feelings or urges?

4) At what age did you first begin learning about sex?

5) How often do you feel you can talk to your parents about issues related to sex?
Most of the time

6) How often do you feel adults listen to your opinions about sex?
Most of the time

7) What is your definition of a "pedophile"?

8) Is a pedophile a child abuser?
I don't know

9) What do you think about age of consent laws?
a) They are good and serve a useful purpose because they protect children from all forms of child abuse.
b) They are neither good or bad, but they are necessary to protect children from all forms of abuse.
c) The idea of them is good, but they should be changed so that children can be protected from abuse and still allowed to engage in sex with anyone of any age.
d) They are bad and should be abolished because they do not allow for people of all ages to engage in sex. There should not be any age restrictions on sexual intercourse.

10) What do you think about adults who are sexually attracted to children (anyone under 12)?
a) They are just like everyone else and should be allowed to have sex with whomever they choose.
b) They have a right to feel attracted to anyone, but they should not have sex with children.
c) They are sick and should seek help.
d) Adults are never sexually attracted to children.

11) What do you think about children (anyone under 12) who are sexually attracted to adults?
a) Children are sexual beings and should be allowed to have sex with whomever they choose.
b) They may be attracted to an adult, but they are too young to know what they want and should be protected from making a bad decision.
c) They are sick and should seek help.
d) Children are never sexually attracted to adults.

Please add any comments about the above questions/issues on the back of this page.

Appendix B: Pedophile Interview Guide / Questions

The following questions were asked in each interview with a pedophile. The order in which these questions appear was maintained, but additional questions were sometimes asked depending on the responses and background of the informants. For example, in my interview with Nathan Paul, I noticed he was giving very short, clipped answers. I sensed he had more to say, but was shortening his responses in order to make my notation easier. In an attempt to gain more insight into his opinions, I rephrased several questions in a variety of ways. Also, given his experience living in the United States and the Netherlands, I questioned him regarding the similarities and differences among societal views of pedophilia in those countries. Similar additions to the guide were made in my interviews with Matthijs Koning and Max De Wit. For exact questions and informant responses, please see the interview transcription section of the Field Studies Workbook.

1) What is your age and occupation?
2) How would you describe or identify yourself?
3) What is your definition of a pedophile? Do you identify as one?
4) How do you think society defines pedophilia?
5) How do you think these definitions of pedophilia contribute to age of consent legislation?
6) How do you think the current legislation and prevailing conceptions of pedophilia affect youths?
7) How do you think the current legislation and prevailing conceptions of pedophilia affect pedophiles?
8) Can you describe a memorable relationship you have had with a youth? (How did you meet them? What did you do for fun? What did you do sexually?)
9) Do age of consent laws deter you from pursuing relationships?
10) As a youth, were you ever involved in a relationship with an "adult?"
11) Those against lowering the age of consent often cite a number of arguments supporting their position. Most can be easily refuted, but the argument concerning the inequality of power in cross-generational relationship usually remains. What would you say if faced with this argument?
12) There is a belief that if age of consent laws were abolished, the rate of child abuse among young girls would skyrocket. How do you respond to feminist arguments that age of consent laws protect girls from being abused by men?

  • 13) In England, there is a current debate regarding equalizing the age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual male sex. During the debate, a new legislative idea has surfaced concerning an abuse of trust law. Are you familiar with this? (If not, describe abuse of trust law.) What do you think about this as a possible substitute for age of consent laws?

14) Is there anything else you think people should know or you would like to share?

  • Note: No informant was familiar with the proposed "abuse of trust" law in England. The following explanation was given so that the informant could answer the question. "For the last seven years there has been a debate concerning equalizing the age of consent in England for heterosexual and homosexual male sex. The bill has consistently been approved by the House of Commons and regularly defeated in the House of Lords. After the second vote, members of the House of Commons decided to introduce an "abuse of trust" amendment to the bill with the hope that the House of Lords would then vote in favor of the legislation. The amended bill would equalize the age of consent at sixteen, but it would allow anyone under eighteen who believed they were being coerced, forced or pressured into having sex to file a complaint with the police. What do you think about this as a possible substitute for age of consent laws?"

Appendix C: Professional Interview Guide / Questions

The following questions were asked in my interviews with professionals. In some cases, a question was excluded due to the time constraints of the informant or the mode in which the interview was conducted. For example, I did not ask Jany Rademakers her age, occupation or for a self-description since the interview was conducted via e-mail and these questions were generally meant to initiate conversations during personal or phone interviews. In each interview, additional questions were asked depending on the field in which the informant worked and their relation to the debate on pedophilia and the age of consent. In my interview with Sidney Smeets, I asked questions specifically related to possible changes in age of consent legislation, and the general views of parliament members concerning youth sexuality. However, in my conversation with Peter Dankmeijer, I focused on sex education in Holland and the ways in which educators discuss cross-generational relationships within the classroom. Therefore, each interview differed slightly depending on the experience and background of the informant with regard to pedophilia and the age of consent. For exact questions and informant responses, please see the interview transcription section of the Field Studies Workbook.
1) What is your age and occupation?
2) How would you describe or identify yourself?
3) What is your definition of a pedophile?
4) How do you feel about age of consent laws?
5) What purpose do you think such legislation serves?
6) What effect do you think such legislation has on youth both directly and indirectly?
7) Some feminists believe that if age of consent laws were abolished, the rate of child abuse among young girls would skyrocket. What do you think about this?

  • 8) In England, there is a current debate regarding equalizing the age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual sex. During the debate, a new legislative idea has surfaced concerning an abuse of trust law. Are you familiar with this? (If not, describe abuse of trust law.) What do you think about this as a possible substitute for age of consent laws?

9) Is there anything else you would like to share?

  • Note: No informant was familiar with the proposed "abuse of trust" law in England. The following explanation was given so that the informant could answer the question. "For the last seven years there has been a debate concerning equalizing the age of consent in England for heterosexual and homosexual male sex. The bill has consistently been approved by the House of Commons and regularly defeated in the House of Lords. After the second vote, members of the House of Commons decided to introduce an "abuse of trust" amendment to the bill with the hope that the House of Lords would then vote in favor of the legislation. The amended bill would equalize the age of consent at sixteen, but it would allow anyone under eighteen who believed they were being coerced, forced or pressured into having sex to file a complaint with the police. What do you think about this as a possible substitute for age of consent laws?"

Appendix D: Pedophile Information Handout

I. What is a pedophile?

There are many different definitions of pedophiles. In my work, I define a pedophile as someone who is erotically attracted to children who have not reached puberty. Even this definition is not adequate though, as there are a number of people who are erotically attracted to children, but do not identify as pedophile. Therefore, it is sometimes easier to talk in terms of behavior (i.e. 'individuals who are erotically attracted to children').

II. What is an ephebophile?

Ephebophile is a term used to describe individuals who are erotically attracted to children who have reached puberty. Although classified as a separate category, it is often assumed to be a form of pedophilia and some scientific studies fail to differentiate between the terms.

III. Are there different types of pedophilia or pedophiles?

Pedophilia is a broad category encompassing many types of relationships. These can take the form of woman/girl, woman/boy, man/boy and man/girl. Pedophiles can also be classified into two groups---active and passive. I define active pedophiles as individuals involved in a relationship with a child or seeking such a relationship. Passive pedophiles are individuals who are erotically attracted to children, but are not involved in a relationship and do not seek one for whatever reason.

IV. What happens in a pedophile relationship?

Pedophile relationships are as varied as any other, and some do include a sexual element. Perhaps the biggest difference from other relationships is the inequality of power in pedophile relationships. While almost all relationships have some type of a power differential, it is usually larger in pedophile relationships. However, it is important to note this difference in power does not automatically result in abuse. As in any relationship, it depends how the power is used.

V. Do pedophiles harm children through coercion, rape, murder, etceteras?

There is no empirical information that shows pedophiles harm children through coercion, rape, murder and other radical forms of sexual behavior more than any other sexual identity group. A tendency to violence is not determined by sexual orientation.

VI. Is sex with children harmful?

There are scientific studies that support and refute this fact. It is important to note that some studies assume a negative view of adult/child relationships from the beginning. Therefore, the conclusions of the study are predetermined and biased. This bias results from a number of factors including ignorance, hate and the specific interests of the researcher (i.e. if their career is largely dependent upon the continued criminalization and social stigma of adult/child relations). The following studies generally view adult/child relationships more favorably. As a result, they have remained largely obscure to the general public, been attacked at the political level, or provoked outrage from the communities where they have been conducted. Nevertheless, they are objective in that most utilize information from previous studies that reached more negative conclusions regarding adult/child relationships. They also discuss the problems involved in conducting research on this subject and the effect of public opinion on such projects. {Constantine (1981), Sandfort (1981), Bauserman and Rind (1996), Bauserman, Rind and Tromovitch (1998).}

Suggestions for further reading

- Loving Boys: Volume 1 and 2, by Dr. Edward Brongersma
- Boys on Their Sexual Contacts with Men, by Theo Sandfort
- Loving Sander: A Novel, by Joseph Geraci
- OK magazine, the main legal Dutch pedophile publication.
- Koinos, an English/German language ephebophile magazine that discusses issues of adult/child love.

For further questions or information, please contact Dechen Albero via e-mail at: dechen_albero@yahoo.com

Works Cited

- Anonymous. (1981). A Militant Young Dyke's Feminist Perspective on the Age of Consent Question. In Daniel Tsang (Ed.), The Age Taboo: Gay Male Sexuality, Power and Consent (pp. 128-31). United States of America: Alyson Publications. BBC News Online. (23 April 1998). Belgium in Mourning.
- Blasius, Mark. (1981). Sexual Revolution and the Liberation of Children: An Interview with Kate Millett. In Daniel Tsang (Ed.), The Age Taboo: Gay Male Sexuality, Power and Consent (pp. 80-3). United States of America: Alyson Publications.
- Brongersma, Edward. (1986). Loving Boys: Volume 1. Global Academic Publishers: The Netherlands.
- ------------------. (1990). Loving Boys: Volume 2. Global Academic Publishers: The Netherlands.
- Dankmeijer, Peter. Personal Interview. 17 April 2000.
- De Jong, M. [edit] and Frans Gieles. (March 1999). Thee Other Side of the Coin. OK magazine, 67, 10-12.
- De Wit, Max. Personal Interview. 20 April 2000.
- F., B. [edit] (January 1999). Youthful Sexual Experience and Well-Being: Important Conference in Rotterdam. Koinos, 21, 5-12.
- Gieles, Frans. See: De Jong, Martin and Frans Gieles.
- Goslinga, Gorrit (January 1998). Bauserman and Rind: Boys' Sexual Experiences. Koinos, 17, 5-8.
- ------------------. (April 1999). The Pampered Victim: The Dubious Legacy of Martin Heidegger. Koinos, 22, 5-11.
- Graupner, Helmut. (1999). Love Versus Abuse: Crossgenerational Sexual Relations of Minors: A Gay Rights Issue?. The Journal of Homosexuality, 37, 23-56.
- Hekma, Gert. Lecture on Marginalized Sexualities. 4 April 2000. Joint Council For Gay Teenagers. (1981). I Know What I Am: Gay Teenagers and the Law. In Daniel Tsang (Ed.), The Age Taboo: Gay Male Sexuality, Power and Consent (pp. 84-91). United States of America: Alyson Publications.
- Jones, Gerald P. (1991). The Study of Intergenerational Intimacy in North America: Beyond Politics and Pedophilia. The Journal of Homosexuality, 20, 275-95.
- Koning, Matthijs. Personal Interview. 17 April 2000.
- Kraakman, Dorelies. Personal Interview. 19 April 2000.
- North American Man/Boy Love Association. (1981). The Case for Abolishing the Age of Consent Laws. In Daniel Tsang (Ed.), The Age Taboo: Gay Male Sexuality, Power and Consent (pp. 92-106). United States of America: Alyson Publications.
- Paul, Nathan. Personal Interview. 23 April 2000.
- Plummer, Ken. (1991). Understanding Childhood Sexualities. The Journal of Homosexuality, 20), 231-49.
- Priesland, Eric. (1981). Whose Power? Whose Consent?. In Daniel Tsang (Ed.), The Age Taboo: Gay Male Sexuality, Power and Consent (pp. 72-9). United States of America: Alyson Publications.
- Rademakers, Jany. Personal Interview. 19 April 2000.
- Sandfort, Theo. (1987). Boys on their Contacts with Men. Global Academic Publishers: New York.
- Schuijer, Jan. (Winter 1993). The Netherlands Changes Its Age of Consent Law. Paidika, 9, 13-17.
- ------------------. (Winter 1995). Recent Legal Developments in the Netherlands. Paidika, 12, 64-71.
- ------------------. (1991). Tolerance at Arm's Length: The Dutch Experience. The Journal of Homosexuality, 20, 199-229.
- Smeets, Sidney. Personal Interview. 18 April 2000.
- Van Ree, Frank. (January 2000). Abuse by Definition?: The Taboo as Excuse. Koinos, 25, 7-9.
- ------------------. (October 1999). Intimate Relationships Between Young People and Adults: Are there Criteria for a Positive Experience?. Koinos, 24, 7-29.
- Vogel, Wolf. (October 1999). The Lie of Self-Determination: National Laws Violate the Rights of Children Rather than Protecting Them. Koinos, 24, 25-6.
- ------------------. (January 1999). Ridiculous Farce. Koinos 21, 23-4.

source: 'A right to love - Cross-generational relationships in the age of consent' by Dechen Albero; School for International Training; Sexuality, Gender and Identity; Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Spring 2000