It seems that not a week goes by that somebody doesn't say something completely wrong about child sexual abuse. This week's winner is Richard Dawkins, noted biologist and atheist. He's also woefully uninformed about the lasting trauma of child abuse in general and child sexual abuse in particular.
(The following paragraph includes Dawkins description of his abuse, if this may be triggering, please skip to graph 3)
In a recent interview with Time Magazine he tried to defend what he termed "mild pedophilia" as not having a lasting harm on children. He quoted his own experience in Boarding School when a school master pulled him on his lap and put his hand down his pants. He dismissed this as "mild touching up", and went on to say this same teacher abused some of his friends. He proclaimed: "I don't think he did any of us lasting harm".
First off, how would Mr. Dawkins know who suffered lasting harm and who didn't? The psychological scars of child sexual abuse manifest themselves in myriad ways. Maybe he nor any of his mates turned into pedophiles, but that doesn't mean there was no harm.
Before I continue on, I'd like to clarify something. I'm using the terms pedophile and pedophilia because Mr. Dawkins did. In point of fact pedophile is a DSM V diagnosis. True pedophiles are only sexually aroused by by children. Most child molesters aren't pedophiles. That's why we use the terms, child molester, child sexual abuser or in more unguarded moments "Baby raping fucks", but never pedophile.
For Richard Dawkins to casually toss off a riposte of "it's not so bad, I didn't have lasting harm" is as repugnant as it is arrogant. He claims to be a man of science. A man who uses empirical data to reach a conclusion, in fact a visionary in the field of biology. Yet he uses anecdotal and emotional "evidence" that he's okay so no big deal? That doesn't just make him wrong, it makes him a hypocrite.
A quick perusal of the statistics of alcoholism, drug abuse and other mental health issues, show a a shocking correlation with child sexual abuse.
A March 2012 Study published in the Journal Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research reported the following. "Sexual abuse was associated with an increased likelihood of Anxiety Disorders as well as Alcoholism." "Previous studies have found that alcoholics have higher self-reported rates of physical and sexual abuse in childhood than people in the general population", Markus Heilig, clinical director at the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in the journal news release.
A 1997 release from the Journal on Addictions reported that 75% of women in alcohol treatment programs report being sexually abused as children. 75%!
This is clearly lasting harm and I got those statistics from a simple Google search. I don't have to search Google to see the lasting harm of sexual abuse. I see it daily when I go to work. Children who suddenly start bed wetting because of abuse. Children who cut because of abuse. Teens who smoke, drink, engage in unprotected or commercial sex or both because of sexual abuse.
Back before I was a Child Protection Specialist, I worked for 3 1/2 years as a caseworker in a special program called Treatment Foster Care. It was basically a behavioral modification program in a foster home setting. The caseload was small just 7 kids per worker. These were the kids who were the most difficult to maintain due to behavior etc. In the three years I probably had 25-30 kids cycle through. In my very first caseload of 7 all 7 had been sexually abused. All of them got treatment and therapy for sexual abuse, yet all of them still had significant behavioral issues.
I've written before of the 17 year old boy I interviewed who was sexually abused by a teacher and later committed suicide. I'm sure Mr. Dawkins would qualify this as 'mild touching up'. I dare him to tell that boys parents that "mild pedophilia" had no lasting effects.