Elmhurst, NY: Global Academic Publishers (1987).  


Theo Sandfort


The Beginning of the Friendship

PEOPLE COME TO KNOW one another in different ways, just as there are different kinds of friendships, and that is also true of the pedophile relationships described in this book.

There is, however, one important difference between friendships among adults and friendships between adults and children. Adults are pretty much free to choose what other adults they wish to have as friends. This is not true of friendships between adults and children. There is really only one socially acceptable form for association between children and adults: the pedagogic relationship (Maasen 1983). Adults, then, are parents or teachers of children; seldom are they simply friends. Except within the pedagogic context, children, just as adults, are expected to associate only with others in their own age bracket. Our society recognizes no form for a pure friendship, free of pedagogic intent, between adult and child. Non-pedagogic friendships, then, are socially unacceptable.

Nevertheless the boys and men described here were able to carry on their friendships. Clearly the disapproving attitude of society influenced the quality of their relationships and the manner in which they proceeded.

But how do children and adults get in contact with each other outside of the pedagogic context? A number of stereotypic notions exist, held even by researchers. Often people cannot imagine what adults would be looking for in associating with children, especially if a sexual element is present. It is thought that adults are only after the satisfaction of their own lusts. Supposedly the only way an adult can make contact with a child is by bribing him with money, candy or gifts (Burgess & Holmstrom 1975; Peters 1976; Weeks 1976). Virkkunen (1975, page 177) wrote that "usually this bribery was carried out so that the offender enticed the victim, by giving candy or money, to his abode or some remote place. In many cases this bribery had been carried on already for a long time before the situation had started to gain sexual color. Often, the offenders gave the victims presents, too, so that they would not mention the matter to their parents."

How did it actually happen in the case of these 25 boys? Some met their older partners through a brother or one of their age-mates who also visited the older partner. Sometimes the introduction came through another pedophile who was a friend of the man or lived in the same home. In some cases the contact was made through the parents. In others the men and boys met on the street or at swimming pools. The boys' stories show that reality is more complex than the stereotypic notions people have about the "child-abuser". It seems, too, that the boys themselves often took some initiative toward establishing the relationships.

It was not explicitly asked who had taken the initiative for the first meeting, but some information did emerge from the interviews. Often the first contact came about more or less accidentally. Subsequently meetings could come about on the initiative of the adult, for example by inviting the boy to drop by at his home. Other boys seem to have sought further contact with the men on their own initiative, in some cases only after a fair amount of difficulty.

The friendships sometimes started with the first meeting. In most cases it took a little longer and really began only after a subsequent encounter, or the friendship developed slowly as its nature changed. In one case there was a period during which the two partners did not see one another for a rather long time.

The boys themselves told about how they came to know their older partners as follows:

Hans (13), too, met Frank (66) through another pedophile:

Theo and Simon also got to know their older partners through another pedophile; they found their new acquaintances more pleasant than the old.

Simon (12): 1 got to know Ed (32) at a community center through Ton.

Other boys met the older partner through their age-mates, brothers or a sister. The mother of Lex (13) quickly discovered that the so-called school friend Bennie was in reality Richard (31):

Two contacts came about because the mothers of the boys were active in the Dutch Society for Sexual Reform NVSH. Jan (11) knew Sander (41) from the age of six:

Erik (10) met Edward (57) through a course his mother was giving to NVSH members:

After Bart (14) and Albert (4 1) met at a family gathering they had a great deal of difficulty getting into contact with each other again:

Kees (15) got to know Max (47) when the latter visited their home as a social worker. Further contacts came about through his younger brother and sister:

Ton (14) met Fred (33) at a school camp:

Gerrit (16) had a great deal of trouble finding Barend (39) after their first meeting:

John (13) met Marcel (45) on a vacation.

Finally, Thijs (10) met Joop (26) on the street:

The men and boys met each other in different situations and in many different ways. Often it was the man who, after the first meeting, took the initiative toward the next contact, as in inviting the boy to come and visit him. With a number of boys it is clear that they themselves tried to meet the man again in order to start a relationship. In this sense we can say that the boys did take an initiative in their friendships with the adults. It was not necessarily a sexual initiative, however. To what extent was it sex they wanted? Why did these boys establish friendships with men?

Pedophile friendships

WHY DO BOYS seek contact with adults and why do they keep on going around with them? In some of the interviews with the boys the reasons came out spontaneously, for example in response to the questions, "Who do you get along with well?", "What do you do a lot?" and "What do you enjoy a lot?" In other cases the interviewer broached the subject.

What the boys said in this connection tells us a great deal about the importance of the relationship to them and their motives for going on with it. The boys found sex a pleasurable aspect of their friendship, but it certainly does not seem to have been their most important reason for maintaining it-this is sharp contrast to the assumption of many people that pedophile relationships are exclusively sexual.

The following material will illustrate the range of motives boys can have. A motive given by one boy can also be present in other boys who don't mention it. Above all different motives in varying degrees of importance can be simultaneously present. The sequence in which motives are listed below has no bearing upon their relative importance in the lives of the boys.

Doing things together...

ONE OF THE REASONS the boys maintained their relationship with their adult friends was so they could do things together (Bernard 1975; Brongersma 1975). Some had the same hobbies, others enjoyed playing sports, such as football and swimming. They played games, went to the movies or on vacation together.

The things which they do with the older partner were apparently easier for the boys to single out and verbalize than deeper motives. The shared activities for a few boys were a kind of play and relaxation. They could also be a way to get attention from the adult. Lex discussed the advantages of a pedophile relationship over the situation at home. At home he had to share parental attention with his brothers. He answered the question about whom he got along well with as follows:

The boys took great pleasure in the activities they shared with their partners. It is no wonder, then, that trust, loyalty and friendship existed between them. The atmosphere in the older partner's home also attracted the boys. They described it as friendly and relaxed, "different" and fun. This atmosphere was mentioned by some of the boys as the reason why they liked to be with the older partner. They felt at ease at the older partner's home. They were also attracted by the greater freedom they had there to make their own decisions. They were given more responsibility in what they did and allowed to be done. Some of the boys said they felt much freer with the older partner than they did at home:

For some boys a pedophile relationship can be a means of getting free of the restrictive climate at home (Plummer 1981; Straver 1973).

To be able to really talk...

THE BOYS' MOTIVES, of course, were tied to the personality of the older partner. They appraised him in different ways. For many he was someone with whom they could talk everything over. For Paul (14) that was the most important reason why he got along so well with Ruud (27). When Theo and John were asked why they got along so well with their older partners they answered:

Kees (15) said about Max (57):

A few other answers to the question of why the boys got on so well with their older partners:

In these answers, which are typical of many others, the older partner emerged as someone with whom the boys could talk freely and with whom they could discuss their problems. He was someone who they felt understood them, whom they trusted and in whom they recognized themselves. Some of the boys got help from their older partners to find solutions to their problems at home and elsewhere.

Learning about things...

THE OLDER PARTNER can also be someone from whom the boys learned things. Rob (12), for example, said that Chris (38) filled him in about sex. His mother never could have told him about that, he said. Chris also explained his parents having sexual relations and the problems they had been experiencing.


WHAT THE DIFFERENT aspects thus far examined all have in common is that they are ways in which attention is shown. Not every boy is able to make that distinction and verbalize it. Attention from the older partner emerges as an important motive for the boys to maintain their relationships. That can also be seen in the Self-examination procedure when the behavior of the older toward the younger partner is examined. Giving attention was what, according to the boys, most typified the older partner's behavior.

The attention to the boys was often physically expressed. Peter (14), for example, said he liked it that Karel (30) cuddled with him so much. This is especially important because in our culture boys in the age bracket of these 25 youngsters are usually not cuddled by their parents. Rossman (1976) said in this connection that it is understandable that boys, then, seek out others for attention and affection. The need for affection and attention has been cited by a number of writers as a motive for children to seek pedosexual contacts (Bender & Blau 1937; Brand & Tisza 1977; Burton 1968; Ingram 1979; Weeks 1976). This motive has been linked by them to a problematic family background and emotional neglect. It is questionable whether the neglect discovered by clinical and juridical investigations can be generalized to all pedosexual contacts (O'Carroll 1980). In so far as it does not concern single sexual contacts but rather children in pedophile relationships, it would seem that this supposition, on the basis of the work of Landis (1956) and Virkkunen (1973), is in part true.

In the present investigation, we did not explicitly ask about the home environment. Nor was the group chosen to be representative. Still, there is more to be said about this matter. Most of the boys felt that their home situation was good. But along with the boys who had good relationships with their parents there were also boys who had overall negative feelings about their homes.

The parents of Rob (12) had been quarrelling a great deal and had just decided at the time of the investigation to seek divorce. Rob reproached his father for being irresponsible and for never having cared for him and his brother:

The majority of the boys, however, had pleasant relations with their parents. Their homes were positive factors in their experiential worlds. That emerged, among other places, in the "value areas" formulated by the boys in their interviews. Many of the boys named their fathers and mothers as people with whom they could get along well with: "My parents who are very nice and have a lot of nice ideas;" "Parents, because you can always tell them your problems;" "My mother when she is in a good mood;" "My foster father who I can really talk to;" or "My family when everyone's in a good I mood".

In an earlier research project (Sandfort 1980) it was discovered that a pedophile relationship can have a beneficial influence on a formerly negative appreciation of the home environment. In any case it is incorrect to suppose that all children who enter into pedophile relationships are from problem families. Likewise, when children find the affectionate elements in the friendship are important, it does not necessarily indicate affective neglect and problems with the parents.

From the statements of the boys one can conclude that the pedophile relationship sometimes serves a number of material and mental needs which are not fully, or only intermittently, fulfilled by the boys' families without the boys actually feeling that they do not like their homes. In such relationships the dependence of the younger partner is greater. As a result a strong interpersonal bond can develop between I the two.

Sometimes this is used as a criticism of pedophile relationships. It is assumed that children ought to be able to find within the family and from their own mothers and fathers everything that they need. Quite aside from whether such a situation is desirable or not, one has to recognize that divorced parents and unwed mothers, too, have children. Other parents appear not to be able, or willing, to satisfy this requirement. It can be expected that as the bonds of the nuclear family are weakened, children will be quicker to form emotional ties with other adults. For such children a pedophile relationship can be a welcome supplement.

We were unable to discern significant negative factors in the home environments of a number of the boys, and where this was true a higher percentage of the parents were aware of the sexual aspect of their son's relationship, which thus became more integrated into the boy's home life. For these children the pedophile relationship apparently did not serve such an important function; it rather had a kind of "surplus" significance. The younger partner came into contact with things which he didn't at home and which made the friendship valuable for him. The employment level of the men who were interviewed was on the whole higher than that of the boy's parents. For those children, then, the relationship offered an opportunity to step out of the bounds of their own social class.


ATTRACTION, FRIENDSHIP and love, finally, made up another group of motives toward maintaining the relationships. In almost every interview there were indications that the boys personally felt attracted to their older friends. Friendship was repeatedly mentioned; it also arose in the formulation of certain value areas, such as, My friendship with Fred," "Frank, with whom I have a special tie." A few boys used the word "love" to describe their feelings for the older partner. Bart (14) said:

Feelings of attraction and intimacy were also mentioned by the boys when they talked about the pleasurable sides of the sexual contact they had with the older partner. Although most of the boys felt emotionally attracted to their older partners, and although they all had sex with them, it wasn't so much a matter of feeling physical attraction. Sexual attraction, in the sense that the older partner was for them an object of lust feelings, appears not to have been the basis upon which they maintained the sexual contact. This is in conformity with the heterosexual orientation which most of the boys at some point in the interview revealed.

Status, prestige, material motives...

THIS SURVEY OF motives makes it clear that a pedophile relationship is not simply a matter of sex. In their relationships with their older partners the boys got affection, love, attention, friendship, freedom and support. They shared all sorts of activities, such as playing games or going to the movies. A number of the boys testified to the fact that they learned a great deal from their older friends. The motives of the boys, in fact, seem very much like those which Foa and Foa (1974) listed for all human beings who seek personal relations with each other: love, affection, (mutual) performing of services, exchange of information. Two motives in the classification of Foa and Foa did not come up in what the boys told: materialistic advantage, and status and prestige. The fact that these motives were not mentioned does not necessarily mean they were completely absent. In the first place, the study was not constructed systematically to lay bare the boys' motives. In the second place, not every motive which influences one's behavior is conscious or can be articulated by one.

Material motivation is often, in the literature, attributed to children who "allow" adults to have sex with them. According to Weeks (1976), sex is performed in exchange for money or other goods. Rasmussen (1937, cited by Burton 1968), also said that many children are enticed by money, candy or little gifts. While this sort of thing undoubtedly occurs in some cases, the question arises as to how often it does in many other pedosexual contacts. Rossman (1976) looks at this material motive from another angle. He says that boys of 12 to 16 may well claim they only do it for gifts or money, but that they might well be kidding themselves and others--into thinking they aren't really after affection and enjoyment of sex.

Likewise, one hears nothing about status and prestige from the boys. A number of authors see this as an important reason for children to have pedophile relationships. Bender & Blau (1937) suggested that the children they studied had an abnormal interest in and need for adult attention. According to them, the child gets a certain satisfaction from taking part in the adult world. Possibly, too, it gives him a feeling of importance. Lafon (cited by Burton 1968) thinks that the contact makes it possible for the child to assume an adult personality and take part in adult activities. And Finch (1973) adds that when a child discovers that sex with adults gives him a new kind of status and a sense of being loved, he will happily respond to contact opportunities or even initiate them himself.

The motives listed by Foa & Foa (1974) were applied to relations between adults, but they appear again with the boys in this investigation. The possibility cannot be dismissed that motives for maintaining a relationship change during the course of personal development. That appears, for example, in some research carried out by La Gaipa (1980) wherein children had to say what they thought was important in the ideal friendship or association. For children up to the age of 12, being thought nice, doing things together, sincerity, being helped, admired and accepted scored very high. As the child grew older there was a shift from egocentric to non-egocentric reasons for carrying on a friendship, and from concrete to abstract ways of expressing it.

Thus a 9-year-old described to them the ideal friend: "Someone to play with and have fun with, someone who likes you and you can share things with. No fighting or rough games. And respect for each other." A 13-year-old said, "They must like you and be nice to you, tell you their problems and play games with you. Someone you can really talk to and be with all the time. If you don't have good friends life is boring." 15- and 16-year-olds have a more realistic view of friendship: "Good friends are essential, because you have to have someone who knows you better than you do yourself. When you need a friend he doesn't have to be always at your beck and call, because that isn't always possible." (page 37)

The Importance of the Relationship

THE MANY REASONS the boys had for maintaining their pedophile relations suggest that the older partner and their mutual friendships were of great importance to the boys. But was that really true of all the relationships? The data assembled through the Self Confrontation method shed some light on this question. The older partner was, for all of the boys, one person for whom they had many positive and few negative feelings. For each of them there were people in their surroundings for whom they had less pleasant and more unpleasant feelings, people with whom they could not get along with as well or whom they disliked. About half of the boys judged their older partners to be the most pleasant person they knew; with eleven boys, however, their parents were the most important.

As well as the qualitative importance of the older partners, one can also examine how the boys evaluated them relative to others they knew. For ten boys their older friends were the most important persons in their surroundings. The remaining fifteen boys found others more important: in some cases friends of their own age but more often their mothers and fathers. The boys who rated their parents emotionally more important saw their older partners relatively infrequently while at the same time they had a daily (and positively experienced) relationship with their parents. Even for these boys, however, the older partner was far from being unimportant.

Five of the boys were very much involved with the older partner, and at the same time the older partner was extremely important in determining their boys' sense of well-being (a high G-Index; see appendix 1). Thus the older partner and the pedophile relationship formed an important structural element in their experiential world. If the relationship for one reason or another were to be terminated it would have rather far-reaching negative consequences for these five boys (Sandfort 1980). With the other twenty boys the relationship with the man was of distinctly less importance. What the older partner meant to the younger in their friendship was very different.

Sex in Pedophile Relationships

SEX IS NOT THE most important reason boys have pedophile relationships with men, but it may very well be the chief reason problems over them arise. The tendency of sex to bedazzle is sometimes so great that it is difficult to see that there are many other aspects of such friendships. Some of the older partners in this investigation said that for them sex was not the most important element in their relationships. They pointed to the importance to them of simply being with children. Of course that can be dismissed as simple self-justification or a sales pitch. But the same theme emerged from the interviews with the boys: pedophile relationships have many other facets than just sex.

Yet in this book we will concentrate upon this sexual aspect. It is not our purpose to be voyeuristic or provide sensual thrills for our readers. Divergent and sometimes strange ideas persist about sexual relations between children and adults. The statements of these 25 boys give a somewhat subtler and more realistic picture of pedophile relations. But, as we have many times emphasized, what these boys said is not to be construed as typifying all pedophile contacts.

The First Sexual Contact

THE FRIENDSHIPS HERE studied were sexually expressed, although this is not always the case with pedophile relationships in general. Sex can be introduced at different times in a relationship. What these men and boys separately told the interviewer are in almost complete agreement. In about one-third of the cases sex took place at the first meeting. In nine cases that happened in a subsequent meeting shortly after the first; in the remaining eight sex first took place after a month or more, when the boys had been coming more often or their contacts with the older partner became more frequent.

The way the boys described the first sexual contact might suggest that sex was abruptly introduced into the relationship. That is not necessarily the case, neither as the boys experienced it nor in reality. Pedophiles say that first there is a kind of physical contact which could not really be called "sexual" yet (Sandfort 1979). Sex then can simply come about by taking one step further. Also adults often draw a firm line between non-sexual and sexual behavior. Such a boundary is often not recognized by, especially younger, children. For them sex is not a separate behavioral domain.

Sometimes it is said that pedophile relationships are characterized by the gradual introduction of sex. While Bernard (1975) spoke about a gradual development of intimacy, Schuijer (1978), for example, referred to "the physical intimacy which flowed from out of the relationship". This concept hardly holds for the eight boys studied here who had sex with their older partners the first time they met. On the basis of this investigation one cannot say how often this occurs in other pedophile relationships; there can be little doubt, however, that similar cases do exist. Perhaps this concept of the gradual introduction of sex has been nourished by the desire to make pedophilia understandable and acceptable. Sex is generally approved of only in an affectionate relationship; thus it shouldn't take place the moment two people meet. It might, however, be better not to keep insisting upon this idea because however nicely it paints the pedophile relationship, it gives a distorted picture of its sexual aspect.

As for who took the initiative toward the first sexual contact, the men and boys didn't always give the same answer. Now, initiative is not always a one-sided affair; often a sexual contact comes about by "exchanging signals back and forth". In almost half of the cases, according to the boys, it was the man who took the initiative. Five of the boys no longer remembered. In four cases the boys said they themselves took the initiative; according to two boys the initiative was mutual, and three said it came from a third party. The following illustrate how these contacts came about:

The first contact between Chris (38) and Rob (12) occurred when Chris took photos of Rob. Chris said he thought Rob was nice looking and asked him if he could make "half-naked" shots of him, at which point Rob spontaneously got undressed. After that they started to make love: Chris began caressing Rob who, according to Rob himself, responded sexually. Rob was an "explosively sexual" boy, according to Chris. Rob's version:

In the case of Nico (32) and André (14), both reported that it was André who took the initiative. According to Nico it happened very quickly. André grabbed Nico's crotch and pressed matters toward a sexual contact. André said:

The initiative toward the first sexual contact between Richard (31) and Lex (13) came from a third party. Lex was brought by some of his age-mates to Richard who immediately started telling him about pedophilia. Lex was asked if he wanted to participate. Within an hour they had sex which, according to Richard, was "really wonderful, abandoned". The other boys, according to Richard, helped Lex break through his inhibitions. Lex answered the question about how it happened the first time:

Roel (29) and Willem (13) disagreed about who had made the first move. According to Roel, Willem was already experienced, was seeking an older friend and had already tried to have contact with another pedophile. When he visited Roel, Willem let him know he wanted sex, started to make out with him and pulled him into the bedroom. Willem had another version, however:

Jan (11) could not remember his first sexual contact with Sander (41):

Sander said that it was really he who had taken the initiative, and that he had been very careful how he began: "You get a response to something you do, and that determines whether you go any further or not. The whole process lasted three months."

One regularly comes across in the literature the assertion that children themselves often take the initiative toward first sex (Bender & Blau 1937; Brongersma 1975; Rossman 1976; Lievense 1978; De Groot 1979). Pedophiles make the same claim, too. What these 25 boys said does not really support this thesis. Often it was the adult who introduced sex into the relationship. The boys who did take the initiative toward first sex appear to have already had sexual experience with other pedophiles, have had an example to follow in a pedophile contact of another boy they knew, or had known about the pedophile feelings of the older partner. In other words these boys in one way or another were informed about pedosexuality; the sexual initiative they showed didn't come out of thin air. Although it is important to realize that in these latter situations young people can take the sexual initiative, it is still unclear whether boys with no experience would do so. In this connection, a number of the boys themselves pointed to their own inexperience and lack of sexual knowledge when they said that "of course" the older partner had taken the initiative the first time.

Whenever older people say that youngsters take the initiative toward first sexual contact it must be kept in mind that it is the older person who is interpreting the behavior of the younger. While an adult has a clear idea of what constitutes sexual contact, that is certainly less true of an inexperienced young person. The child may not even know what he is looking for, and if he does know, curiosity may be an important factor. Provocative actions a child might make do not have to have conscious sexual intent; they may only be sexual in the mind of the adult who so interprets them (Van Meurs 1963).

The Initiative Toward Subsequent Contacts

THE INITIATIVE TO THE first sexual contact was often taken by the adult partner. What happened at the sexual episodes that followed? From what both partners said, it seems that the majority of the boys were more active in bringing about subsequent contacts. Initiative usually came from both sides, or alternated, rather than always from one partner alone. Sometimes a sort of pattern emerged from which it was not altogether clear who was taking the initiative. There were also a few relationships where the initiative was definitely and habitually taken by the older partner.

Bert (35) said the initiative was mutual. It followed a kind of set routine. "One day he will start it, the next time I will. Real sex is built into a broader physical contact." According to his partner, Theo (13):

Pieter (39) said that the initiative changed between them. Harrie (16) sometimes came to him all wound up and would tell him, "Let's jerk off; 'cause anything else is boring." According to Pieter, Harrie then thoroughly enjoyed having sex. According to Harrie himself:

While Gerard (42) said that the initiative changed, Wouter (12) answered the question about who began:

Mostly I do.

You start it?

I decide if we're going to have sex or not.

You decide that?

Yes. And every day I come here it happens. I don't keep Gerard waiting around.

Is that a kind of rule, that it happens every time?

No. I like it. When I feel like it we just start. Then we first take a bath and then go to bed. Sometimes we do that the other way round.

But if you have to say who starts it, on average, who would that be?

Well, sometimes one of us, sometimes the other. Yes, and sometimes he wants it and I don't, so then we don't do it. Mostly I'm the first one to begin.

Edward (57) said that he always started it with the boy. He would see if Erik (10) was in the mood. Sometimes Erik was aroused and wanted it. According to Edward, Erik was not so fond of sex; he was not a cuddly boy. To the question about how it went when they had sex, Erik answered:

It goes without saying that the more often sex takes place the better the boy knows what to expect. He also learns how he can take the initiative toward sexual contact, and whenever he does he knows how to go about it.

These findings are rather different from those to be found in the clinical literature (Sandfort 1979). According to Peters (1976) it is not the child who initiates the contact. Previous research has been based on the premise that boys never take the initiative. While boys' reactions to sexual approaches have been investigated, it has never been asked whether they themselves had played a role in bringing about the sexual experiences (Landis 1956). The picture emerging from our present research, however, agrees well with what pedophiles themselves have had to say on this matter (Sandfort 1979).

Kinds of Sexual Contacts

SEXUAL CONTACT is here used in a broader sense than simply "genital intercourse" or "fucking". But what do men and boys do with each other sexually in a pedophile relationship? The men in this study were asked what sexual acts they practiced within their relationships and what they thought might happen in the future. Below are described sexual acts which take place regularly as well as those which have occurred only once. In any particular relationship, of course, a number of different acts can take place.

One kind of sexual contact which occurred in every relationship was masturbation. It happened in different ways. In every case the man masturbated the boy, and in most cases the boy also masturbated the man. Sometimes, too, the men and the boys masturbated themselves in each other's company. Also sometimes each "warmed the other up" but then took care of his own climax.

Oral-genilal contact (fellatio, "sucking off" or giving or getting a "blow-job") took place in almost all of the relationships: in each case the man sucked the penis of the boy; in 14 of these cases the boy reciprocated.

Oral-anal contact (analingus (Borneman 1970) or "ass licking") happened in 7 of the relationships. The man always did this to the boy; the reverse never took place.

Anal Contact (anal coitus, pedicatio (Borneman 1970) or "ass fucking") took place in 6 relationships. In five of these cases it was the boy who penetrated the man; in two of them the man also penetrated the boy. In none did this happen very often. When it did, according to the men involved, it was as a kind of experiment. One of the men said he would rather not do it and it only occurred on an experimental basis when the boy wanted it. Such "experimentation" sometimes turned out to be unpleasant. Marcel (45) said that he had anal contact one time with Johan (13), who found it painful. Johan, however, had not admitted it had hurt and said that he wanted to do something nice for Marcel.

The different sexual acts were apparently experienced by the boys on the basis of how intimate or advanced they were. Thus it was more advanced to masturbate a man than to be masturbated by him. Ejaculating in the mouth of the man was apparently less intimate than having the man ejaculate in the boy's mouth. Penetrating the man anally was less advanced than being penetrated by the man.

With this order in mind, a clear pattern emerges when we look at the various sexual acts practiced within these 25 relationships and the frequency with which they occurred.

In the first place, the sexual acts which boys considered more intimate and took place in relatively few relationships.

Secondly, it seemed that wherever there was a lack of reciprocity in the sexual contact, the man always did more for the boy than what he himself really wanted. Whenever the boy masturbated the man to orgasm, the man always did the same to the boy. In oral-genital contacts, the man always took into his mouth the penis of the boy, although the other way around occurred less often. Of the 21 boys who had oral-genital experiences, 13 of them ejaculated in the mouths of the men. None of the men ejaculated in the mouths of the boys; some even said they didn't want to.

This pattern indicates that in these relationships the boys themselves determined how far they wished to go in their sexual contacts and that the men left the boys free to do so. It also suggests a certain restraint on the part of the men in confronting the boys with their own adult sexuality.

This tendency of pedophiles to leave the boy free to make such determinations has been suggested in other investigations (Straver 1976; Sandfort 1979). Therein we can read that it is the boy who decides what is going to happen in a sexual contact, that his wishes are important and respected and it is he who decides how far he and his partner are going to go. When Brongersma (1975) writes that an important element of the man's sexual enjoyment is the lust which the boy experiences, this restraint on the part of the older partner is more understandable.

Sometimes in the literature pedosexual contacts are described as innocent games. Thus Zeegers (1968) compared pedosexual contacts with "the fooling around of immature adolescents". Such an image may perform a kind of tranquilizing function in sex-education literature, but at the same time it has a condescending, minimizing tone (Kuijer 1980). Writing on child sexuality Wolters (in Dik 1980) refers to the "half-hard little willie" which the boy fumbles around in the girl's little slit. And so, in general, pedosexual contacts are neatly segregated from contacts between adults, and are considered much less valuable. But is that really true? Masturbation and fellatio, the sex acts which occurred most frequently in these 25 relationships, are also the most common homosexual sex acts among men (Bell & Weinberg 1979). It is quite possible that such low evaluation of the under-age male's sexual experiences results from the common idea that heterosexual coitus is "real sex" while other acts are somehow inferior or to be disparaged.

The sexual acts in the relationships studied here were on the whole physically more intimate and more advanced than those described in the literature on pedosexual contacts (for example, Landis 1956; Jaffe, Dynneson & Ten Bensel 1975; Peters 1976. For a summary, see Pieterse 1978 and Sandfort 1979). But all of these other investigations were of pedosexual contacts in general and not just those which occurred within pedophile relationships. What was mostly described was exhibitionism and caressing or fondling of the boys. The acts in which these 25 boys participated were more intimate partly because they all occurred within pedophile relationships and partly because the study group was assembled only from the boys who were currently having sex (in the true sense of the word) with the older partner. Undoubtedly there are also pedophile relationships in which physical contact is limited to caressing and cuddling.

Active and Passive

IT APPEARS THAT at least some of the boys were active in the sexual contact; the older partners were all questioned about the extent of the boys' active participation. According to the men, more than half of the boys participated actively. Six men said the boys were mostly passive, and five said they were both active and passive.

According to one of the men, his younger partner's passivity was due to the boy's age (10 years): the youngster's feelings were still very much directed upon himself. Another man said the sexual contact was "a one-way street"; again he cited the young age of the younger partner and the fact that the boy was not yet genitally mature. Sex for these boys, then, was not yet so very interesting. Two other men linked the passivity of their younger partners to the boys' heterosexual orientation, and one of them said he could thus well understand why the activity so often came from only one side. In other relationships, however, where the boys were likewise unaware of real homosexual longings and were predominantly heterosexual, this seemed to be no hinderance to their actively participating in the sexual contact.

A boy might participate actively in a sexual contact mostly to arouse himself, or he might do it to arouse his older partner. From what a few of the boys said, their active behavior towards the older partner was their side of a sort of exchange: if you do something nice for me, I'll do something nice for you. Thus the chief aim was not to arouse themselves. Perhaps one has to learn that arousing a partner sexually can be sexually arousing in itself (Sandfort 1979). In this connection it would have been interesting to know the masturbation fantasies of the boys-especially whether the older partner, or adults in general, played a roll in them. In any case, it appeared from what the boys said that they didn't always behave passively in the pedosexual contacts.

Pleasure in sex

BOTH THE MEN and the boys were asked whether the boys had orgasms. The men were questioned about how the boys acted during orgasm and what they thought the boys wanted out of the sexual contact. As part of the self-investigation procedure the boys were questioned about the feelings they experienced in connection with the sexual contact, and what for them were its pleasurable and the unpleasurable sides.

According to their older friends, most of the boys were seeking more than one thing in their sexual contacts: several motives operated simultaneously and were of greater or lesser importance.

Often the pleasure of sex itself was mentioned. The older partners put it in different ways. Some of them said that the boy was only interested in the sex and was simply after its enjoyment. Others mentioned "coming" or "the desire to have an orgasm". Still others said that the boy was "naturally horny", found sex wonderful and was looking for ways to get aroused. One man, in this connection, said the sexual contact provided the boy with possibilities to experiment. Another said his younger partner was oriented toward girls but that the boy didn't yet dare try anything; the sexual contact acted as a kind of training school for him, and the older partner was getting the boy ready for later on. A few men also said that the excitement, the sensation and adventure surrounding the sexual contact all played their roles. Possibly sexual gratification was a motive in all of the boys, although we cannot be sure because the men were not systematically asked about this.

Five men, however, said that they thought their young friends were not simply seeking sex but wanted other things which were more important to them. Eight men put the emphasis on the physical rather than the sexual aspect; they thought the boys were seeking pleasure more in general body contact: caressing, physical cuddling, being held, treated tenderly and so forth.

After the physical and sexual pleasures, some of the men drew attention to the psychological aspects of the sexual contact. Eight of the boys, according to their older friends, were also seeking in their sex security, warmth and positive attention. One of the men said that the sex allowed the boy to appreciate his own worth. Three others said the boy experienced a kind of recognition, an affirmation of his sense of self.

The men also mentioned relational motives. Two of the older partners said the boys liked to demonstrate through sex their attachment to them. Another said the boy used sex to exercise his power over him, and used it to grant him favors. Three men said the boys enjoyed the sex because of the friendship or love they experienced through it.

The boys sought the sex for more reasons than simply to satisfy their own appetites. Two of the men thought the boys also enjoyed doing it to please their older partners, to give them pleasure; one of the men said his boy was "socially motivated." Another said he thought that in his particular situation the most important thing for the younger partner was that the boy was doing him a favor; he questioned how much pleasure the boy himself felt during their sex. The boy never started the sex himself and, according to the man, he got little out of it. The man said the boy was not yet sexually mature and attained no climax during the contact.

The motives the men ascribed to the boys for participating in the sexual contacts agree in general with what pedophiles said in a previous investigation (Sandfort 1979). These different motives can operate simultaneously. Sometimes one can be more important than any of the others. They are, however, certainly not restricted to pedophile contacts but can be found in other kinds of contacts as well (Frenken 1976, page 26).

When the men were asked to what extent the boys experienced orgasm in the sexual contact, they answered in several different ways.

There were boys who had both orgasms and obvious ejaculations. All of these boys were older than twelve-and-a-half years.

There was another group of six boys all of whom had orgasms but no ejaculations during the sexual contacts. According to the older partners a "a clear liquid" or a "slippery, watery substance" came out of the boys' penises. Probably these boys, who were all around 13 years old, were in a phase of biological transition to sexual maturity.

Finally there were five boys, on average slightly younger than the former group, who had neither an ejaculation nor anything resembling it. They did, however, achieve sexual climax, according to their older partners. A number of boys who had become sexually mature during the relationship also seem to have experienced the same thing.

Attaining orgasm and having an ejaculation are not necessarily the same thing. One of the men, talking about the "dry orgasms" of his younger partner, said that at those moments the boy was far, far away, "experiencing eternity." The boy then was completely out of contact, and time for him slowed up. Some of the boys told their older partners that they were coming or that their penis "itched." Most of the men said that they could clearly see in the body of the boy that he was having an orgasm. His body then looked as though it was under tension; the older partner often felt it jerk and tremble. One of the men described a certain spasming and tensing of the features of the boy. Another told how the boy strained and stretched his legs and toes. A boy's sighing and panting were taken as indicative of his orgasm. According to most of the men there was also a clear termination to the climax. The boy indicated that he didn't want to do it any longer or pushed the head of the man away. Another boy couldn't stand it if the man continued to touch his penis after orgasm. One of the men said it was as though "a bomb had collapsed into itself" and the boy's penis immediately went soft. Another of the older partners described the relaxation which the boy experienced right after his climax. Some of the men said boys in this third group were able to achieve multiple orgasms, one right after the other.

The description of these "dry orgasms" by the older partners closely resembles that of the other boys who were able to ejaculate. One of the men even said that it was just as though the boy had really had an emission. Kinsey (1948, page 177) also noted orgasm in immature boys. The phenomenon he described reappears in the statements of these adult partners.

There was a fourth group of boys who had neither orgasm nor ejaculation during the sexual contact. Three of them were between 10 and 13 years of age and were not yet sexually mature. The fourth boy, fifteen-and-a-half, was definitely mature but, according to his older friend, suffered from "impotence" during their sexual contacts; in other sexual situations he had had ejaculations.

There appears to have been a connection between sexual maturity and the ability to have ejaculations on the one hand and the involvement of the boy in the sexual contact on the other. Although not true in all cases, the boys who could have a sexual emission tended to be more active in the sexual contact (see also Bernard 1975). The experiencing of sexual relations is, of course, more than just having an ejaculation. Still it seems that both the interest and the participation of the boy in the sex was increased when he could find in it greater, and perhaps more concrete, satisfaction.

Experiencing Sexuality

THE WAY IN WHICH the boys experienced their sexual contacts with their older partners was investigated by means of the Self Confrontation Method and the extent of both positive and negative feelings associated with each of the so called value areas determined. In order to obtain the broadest possible picture of the boys' emotional responses, they were not asked which feelings were caused by the sexual contact but which feelings they associated with it. Thus a boy might find the sexual contact in itself pleasurable but at the same time have feelings of anger, because, for example, he knew his parents wouldn't approve of it.

First we will examine the feelings linked to the sexual contact itself. Then we will look into the causes of these various pleasant and unpleasant feelings.

The feelings the boys had with respect to the sexual contact seem to have been mostly pleasurable ones, such as nice and happy, feelings elicited directly by the contact itself. Another feeling strongly associated by the boys with the sexual contact was free, as were, generally, safe and satisfied. The pleasurable feelings of proud and strong which do not have such an obvious inherent connection with sexuality were less common.

The unpleasurable feelings were decidedly less common. For the most part the boys said they never felt naughty, angry, sad or lonely in connection with the sexual contact, yet these are feelings one might well expect because the boys were, among other things, aware that they were breaking the rules of their social environment or their parents. It is possible that the boys were unconsciously denying or suppressing such feelings, but the subsequent interviews gave no indications that this was so.

When one compares how the boys experienced the sexual contact with how they experienced other value areas in their lives, the sexual contact seems to belong with those other value areas in which mostly positive and relatively few negative feelings are associated. Consequently positive feelings markedly overshadow the negative ones. For one boy that was not the case: he had as many negative as positive feelings associated with the sexual contact. It is remarkable, then, that this boy, Ben (10) mentioned sex when asked what he enjoyed a lot. The negative feelings which he gave in connection with the sexual contact were angry, shy, naughty and dislike. In the second interview more information was obtained on this matter. It then emerged that the boy had interpreted sexual contact with his older partner rather broadly: "Sex with Herman (55) is, uh, love for children and, uh, doing nice things for children, that sex is not bad." It appeared that he liked the physical contact, which he called "cuddling" but he found the sexual activity itself less enjoyable. He said he got an unpleasant tickling from it, which would make the older partner a bit angry. "Then he says,'I want to do something nice but you don't want to do it.' So then I think he's mad at me." With respect to angry feelings, he said he had them when they made love and he didn't want to. Shy he associated with 'bad' which is connected with naughty, about which he said, "I think it's a little naughty, so I am naughty. My mother wouldn't let me." Opposed to these negative feelings, however, there were just as many positive feelings: nice, free, safe and happy.

The emotional involvement of the boys in the sexual contact varied. For several boys it was among the more important elements in their lives. There were also boys for whom it played a decidedly less important role. No boys, however, thought it was of virtually no importance.

Using the Self Confrontation Method it is also possible to determine why somebody, in his general experience, feels either good or bad (the G-index: see Appendix 1). This index was used to see whether the sexual contact with the adult partner had a negative influence on the boy's general sense of well-being. That appeared not to have been the case with any of these 25 boys. Where any influence was detected, it was positive. This conclusion is valid, however, only for the time when the investigation was carried out. The possibility cannot be excluded that the sexual contact for one reason or another (such as the intervention of parents or police, or being abandoned by the older partner) would at some later time exert a negative influence on his sense of well-being.

Nice and Naughty

IN ORDER TO get as broad as possible a picture of the significance of the sexual contact in the lives of the boys, both the positive and the negative sides of it were examined.

Most of the boys found it difficult to say exactly what they found pleasurable in the sex; for them it was self-evidently pleasurable. For almost all the boys the pleasurable element derived from the pleasant feelings it gave them: "Having sex with Bert is nice," "I think it's nice and cozy", "It's wonderful", and "Expressing your love physically and emotionally".

The last quote shows that in addition to pure sexual pleasure, feelings of friendship, intimacy and love could play a role. With other boys, too, elements of the relationship were mixed with sexual enjoyment. "Sex with the right person gives you very fine feelings", "Because I think it's wonderful and I really like Barend". Still other boys emphasized the relational aspect. They said: "You show love for one another through sex", "For me sex is a way of expressing my feelings for Marcel", and "It happens in a good relationship". There was one boy who was exclusively concerned with the sexual feelings and for whom the relational element was unimportant: "Because it feels good, not because I love him".

Five boys cited other pleasurable sides of the sexual contact. One of them, Marco (12) said, "Pedophiles ought to be able to enjoy themselves"; he had almost no negative feelings about it. Erik (10) found the sexual contact nice and cozy for himself but also liked the fact that his older friend enjoyed it too, and this latter point seemed to be very important to him. When he was asked whether he liked doing nice things for people he answered, "Uh, that depends on what it is. If it's some boring chore then I'm happy to get it over with, because then he always thanks me. But with this, for example: well, I like it a lot, too, so it doesn't bother me whether I do it or not. So I do it-no problem-because there are two things that are nice about it: he likes it and I like it myself." A third boy also liked the sexual contact "because Max (57) lets me choose what we will do and not do". Two boys mentioned learning from their sexual relations as a positive aspect. Bart (14) discovered through the sexual contact how his body responded and worked. Rob (12) said: "Through sex with Chris (38) I learned how my parents relate to one another." He explained as follows:

Each boy was systematically asked about the unpleasant or negative sides of the sexual contact. They were also asked the cause of the unpleasant feelings connected with thein. Ten of the 25 boys could not answer the first question even after they were extensively questioned. For example: John (13) said:

What for you are the unpleasant aspects of yoursexual relations with Marcel (45)?

There's nothing unpleasant about it.

Nothing unpleasant at all?

What could there be?

I don't know. Is there maybe something you'd rather not do? You like it very much, but maybe there is still something that makes you think, well, I have a little trouble with that, or there's for me something annoying about it?

No. Marcel has always told me if you're doing something you don't like you always have to say so. But I haven't any trouble with it. I like it and he likes it, so I think why should we make problems about it?

When the matter was pursued in this manner some of the boys simply reiterated the pleasurable sides of their sexual relations.

The negative sides given by the other boys related to the sexual contact itself, the behavior of the older partner and the social environment in which the boys lived. Subsequent discussions with each boy revealed why some of them arose in the context of his sexual relations. This matter was gone into rather deeply, although that should not suggest that these negative feelings were important in the boy's experiential world. What follows are examples of their (rather rare) occurrence:

Eric (10) listed as a negative side of the sexual contact that sometimes circumstances made it impossible for it to happen more often. He said that sometimes he wasn't in the mood, "but once, twice a day is real good". In this connection, two boys said they thought it was too bad "that others can't have the same experience".

Martin (12) answered the question as to why during their sexual relations he sometimes felt lonely by saying he realized at such times that he "really couldn't do without" Frits (26).

The sexual relations also sometimes led to feelings of doubt. Thus Rob (12) said:

Six boys named negative aspects which were more connected with the conduct of the older partner. Some of the negative feelings about their sexual relations also pointed in this direction. Theo (13) answered the question about the negative aspects:

René (12) gave a similar answer: "Often in the morning he's unshaven and his tongue stinks all day long." René every once in a while felt angry in connection with their sexual relations: "Every so often he's in a bad mood, and then he's just not paying attention." Maurits (10) named as an unpleasant side"when Maarten (32) does something stupid when we make love". When asked what that might be, Maurits answered:

With a few other boys it sometimes happened that the older partner did something in their sexual relations which the younger partner didn't like. With Ben (10) it seemed that whenever his older partner caressed him it tickled. Ben didn't like that, which made Herman (55) angry.

Jos (13) said he felt angry a few times in connection with their sexual relations:

Other boys also said that some things happened which they didn't like. Hans (13) listed as a negative side the fact that he found it difficult to say "no" whenever his older friend wanted to do something he himself didn't want to do:

Hans said that as a result he sometimes, but very rarely, felt angry and sad in connection with their sexual relations.

A few boys listed as negative aspects that it sometimes happened when they weren't in the mood. Rather rarely René had the feeling of dislike in connection with their sexual contact:

Eric (10) sometimes felt lonely in the sexual contact. He said:

Most of the other negative feelings associated with the sexual contact refer to the environment which, as we will soon see, the majority of the boys well knew disapproved of sexual relations between children and adults. A number of the boys found that unpleasant. Some of the negative aspects and feelings associated with the boys'sexual relations reveal this too.

Gerrit (16) named as a negative side: "Other people giving me a hard time about my relationship with Barend", and Ton (14) said, "My parents probably think it's bad." A few boys claimed to feel angry sometimes about their sexual relations because other people thought they shouldn't be having them.

With some of the boys the anger they felt was not restricted to their social environment; it also influenced how they experienced their sexual relations. Simon named as a negative side, "I'd be embarrassed if they (parents and other people-T.S.) heard about it." This also emerged in his explanation of certain negative feelings. Kees (15) occasionally felt embarrassed in connection with the sexual contact. This occurred with people whom he didn't know very well but who were aware of the pedosexual relationship. Ben (10) also had feelings of embarrassment in connection with the sexual contact:

For the same reason he also often felt naughty, a feeling which Theo (13) sometimes had too:

The feeling of naughtiness doesn't necessarily have to weigh heavily in the mind of the boy. Bart (14) said he sometimes felt naughty in connection with the sexual contact:

The fact that the sexual contact with the older partner is usually disapproved of in the social surroundings means that the boy must keep it secret. This can also give rise to negative feelings in connection with his sexual relations with the older partner.

Walter (15) said he occasionally felt angry because his parents didn't know about it. Willem (13) sometimes felt naughty about the sexual contact:

Hans (13) sometimes had the feeling of dislike in connection with the sexual contact:

Having to keep the sexual relations secret can give rise to worry over a possible betrayal. Thus John (13) felt fear in connection with the sexual contact that his brother, with whom the older partner also had sex, would let something slip out:

Fear of discovery, in fact, is inherent in having to hide the sex. Peter (14) cited as a negative aspect of the sexual contact being afraid "that the neighbors would hear about it". As a result he often felt afraid in connection with their sex:

Jan (11) named as a negative side, "Being interrupted in sex". He said:

Fear of discovery was explicitly mentioned by five of the boys as the reason they were sometimes afraid in the context of the sexual contact. That happened to René (12) almost never, but still he said, "If someone comes in and you're in the middle of making out, then something could go wrong."

Theo (13) felt afraid fairly often:

Paul (14) was also often afraid:

Police and the law were brought up by other boys. Hans (13) saw "danger from the law" as a negative side to the sexual contact, and Paul (14) didn't like the fact that sex with minors was forbidden. Rob (12) also sometimes experienced fear in connection with the sexual contact, and it was mostly for the safety of his older partner:

Other boys realized that the older partner could go to prison; they considered this a "fault" in the penal code or a "stupid law".

For Hans (13) the illegality of the sexual contact was no reason not to go to bed with somebody:

Two boys cited negative aspects connected with their environments but which didn't arise from its disapproval. Paul (14) said his step-father didn't like his having sex with Ruud (27) because he was jealous: he, too, had a sexual relationship with Paul.

André named as a negative aspect: "Gossip over my affair". That was also the reason why he sometimes felt naughty and sad. André was the boy who emphasized that he enjoyed the sexual contact but didn't love the older partner. His girl-friend knew about it but did not really approve. Thus André had decided to have no more sex with his older friend. He said:

We have now examined many of the negative sides of the sexual contact as far as the boys were concerned, and the negative feelings associated with it, but how important were they? It appears that in relation to the positive feelings they played a relatively minor role in the way the sexual contacts were experienced. Furthermore it also seems that they had hardly any influence upon the overall way the boys experienced their sexual relations with the older partner. The positive aspects, which arose out of feelings of sexual pleasure and certain elements of the boy's relationship with the man, clearly predominated. To the extent that the negative aspects had any influence at all, it was only to slightly minimize the effect of the positive ones.

Data obtained through the Self-Confrontation procedure also showed what a small influence these negative aspects had upon the sexual contact experience as a whole. Compared with other things which were important in the boys' lives, the negative aspects elicited a relatively low emotional response. It also appeared from the aformentioned "G-Index" that the negative aspects had hardly any effect at all upon the boys' general sense of well-being, a finding supported by the fact that most were formulated by the boys only after repeated questioning.

There is a good chance, then, that some of these negative aspects are given too much emphasis here and were really rather unimportant in the lives of the boys. This is not to deny, however, that they actually were perceived by the boys themselves as being associated with the sexual contact.

Power Difference and Abuse of Power

ONE OF THE OBJECTIONS raised against pedophile relationships and sexual contacts between adults and minors is that there is always supposed to be (some say by definition) abuse of power. This belief is shared by many scientists investigating this phenomenon. Burgess and Holmstrom (1975), for example, say that the adult always has a dominant position in relation to the child and exploits the child's "ambivalence". The older person wields two weapons of power: the giving of gifts and the inculcation of distorted values and norms; he does the latter, for example, when he assures the child that what they are doing is normal and permissible. Peters (1976, page 425) distinguishes two kinds of power abuse inherent in pedophile contacts: seduction "which goes far beyond the stereotypic gifts of candy" and force. Force consists of physical violence and verbal coercion.

From some feminist quarters, too (Schwarzer 1980), one hears that a pedophile relationship is an unequal one in which the power positions are very different and the interests of the child are subordinated to the needs and desires of the adult. Thus Richard (1975) said that adults have developed complex power techniques to use against children: subtle manipulation, seduction, playing upon feelings of guilt or open aggression. According to Richard, children see adults, and especially men, as enormously authoritarian. Children know that they must respect the wishes of adults because if they don't they will be punished.

It cannot, of course, be denied that power and inequality exist in pedophile relations. In every kind of human interaction power and inequality play a role. This is true of adult interaction, and it is also true in relationships between adults and children, where power differences are hardly restricted to pedophile situations but are to be found in relationships between parents and children, children and teachers, etc. Wherever an adult and child interact, one of them is bigger and stronger than the other, knows more and is cleverer, has a higher status in society and has more money at his disposal. Where the younger person is dependent upon the adult for his emotional and material care, as for example in the family, the difference in power positions will be relatively large. That is one of the reasons incest is quite a different phenomenon from pedophilia. In the case of unwilling incest the child in his dependence often doesn't know how he can refuse the sexual activities. In pedophile relationships the power differential is less: the child, if he does not wish to continue with the contact, can simply stay away.

It is important to realize that power is seldom absolute. According to Hinde (1979, page 256), power is limited by the capacity of both individuals. In many relationships one partner has more power with respect to some things and the other partner more power over others. This division of power is usually arrived at by "negotiations": "Power is a property of the relationship and not of one or the other individual."

Plummer (1979, page 540), in examining pedophile relationships, said that what really mattered was who profited from them and by how much. He thus compared them with the parent/child relationship: "Parents dominate their children, but the child receives a great deal in return. Recent studies of pedophilia (Eglinton 1971; Rossman 1976) give examples of situations where a-child can gain a great deal from a pedophile relationship."

O'Carroll (1980, page 167) also took a more moderate view of the power aspect in pedophile relationships and felt, despite the sexual element, that they are better compared with the parent/ child than with any adult relationship. In all families there is power imbalance, but it is mostly used for the benefit of the child. "The fact that repressive elements can be detected in motherhood does not mean that motherhood must be eliminated. The fact that the relationship between mother and child is not equal does not mean per se that the relationship is undesirable." O'Carroll disagrees with Richard's (1976) claim that children do not see through the power games adults play: children from a very early age, according to O'Carroll, are trained in power politics, especially in the relationship between their parents.

Kuijer (1980, pages 69-73) also also took a more nuanced view of the power imbalance issue. "If equality is made a precondition to a loving relationship it would be impossible to love a child, because however much one insists upon the equal worth of child and adult it is obvious that equality of power simply does not exist. ( ... ) Children for the most part have no problems over inequality. They easily admire their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and especially their teachers. (..) One can consider another person better than oneself without necessarily feeling humiliated, at least children can. Putting someone on a higher plane than oneself, far from being degrading, can actually work to enhance one's self-evaluation."

Many authors, in fact, have put into perspective power differences in relationships in general and between children and adults in particular.

While adults usually have power on their side, the junior partner in a pedophile relationship still has some trump cards of his own: he can stay away from the older partner and so deprive him of a contact which is difficult to replace. The fact that the sex is legally forbidden and must be kept secret makes the adult somewhat dependent, thus bestowing a degree of power on the younger partner. It shouldn't be thought that children are not in a position to make use of this. There are pedophile relationships in which the power balance has actually tipped in favor of the child, in which the adult indulges the child. Often this "extorted" indulgence is rationalized away by reference to idealistic principles. Such self-justification should not be confused with sincere child and youth emancipation ideals to which some pedophiles adhere: the granting of greater freedom and wider responsibilities to the child.

How a power advantage is used is central to the discussion of power and inequality. There is a great deal of difference between the existence of power, the use of power and the misuse of power. If the older partner only considers his own sexual feelings and does not respect the feelings of the child, misuse of power obviously exists. Of course there are also misuses of power which are less obvious, for example where the older partner gives the younger a gift as reward for a desired sexual contact. Here it is more difficult for the child to refuse even though he himself doesn't really want to have sex with the man. The same holds where the adult acts so disappointed that the child feels guilty in continuing to refuse. Despite the presence of power imbalance, it is possible, in theory at any rate, for the older partner not to misuse his advantage. The mere existence of power difference is a poor reason to make a blanket condemnation of all such relationships. If an adult wishes to build up a really pleasant friendship with a child he cannot afford to neglect the wishes and interests of the child. With respect to power imbalance, Straver (1976) and Constantine (1981) stress the condition that the child must be free at any moment to withdraw from the situation and the relationship. The pedophile must also prevent the child from becoming dependent. Lievense (1978) and Van der Kwast (1975), however, question whether it is possible for a pedophile relationship to rest upon freedom, mutuality and camaraderie.

How did power difference act in the pedophile relationships here studied? The boys were asked about this during the self investigation, especially with respect to their the sexual contacts (See Appendix 2).

In most cases the boys said the men behaved in a pleasant way in the sexual contact. Four boys said that a few times they had experienced very slightly negative behaviour from their older friends during sex. These boys sometimes felt left in the lurch, made fun of or coerced; they also said sometimes the man bossed them around. But with each of the boys positive behavior on the part of the man predominated. Above all they felt that their older friend paid attention to them during their sex, was considerate of them and worked together with them. The nature of the positive aspects of the adults' behavior during sex seemed to drown out its negative aspects.

The boys felt that the men behaved toward them during sex the same way as they behaved toward them in general. For example, if the man was usually considerate of the boy, the boy found him also considerate when they had sex. Likewise, if the man seldom behaved in a certain way in their relationship, he also seldom acted that way in the sexual contact. The boys did not sense a change in the men's behavior when they had sex; they felt a continuity in it both in and out of bed.

These findings do not support the common assumption of Power abuse in pedophile relations. Either this assumption is wrong or there must be some other explanation for our findings. The idea that the boys were unable to recognize Power abuse, for example, is quite untenable, for they were obviously able to spot it in other adults with whom they interacted. Some recognized it in the behavior of their parents: "playing the boss", "coercing", etc. Elsewhere (Sandfort 1981a) other possible explanations have been examined and rejected.

From what the boys said, it was apparent that crude abuse of power simply did not occur. However, later in the conversations with the boys, it became apparent that there could be situations in which a kind of subtle misuse of power could arise. Jos (13), for example, said he became-annoyed when Bas (35) kept on insisting:

Lex (13), too, said he sometimes found it difficult to say no when he didn't really want to have sex with Richard (31), because he felt you had to be considerate of each other's feelings:

Other boys told similar stories about the unpleasant side of their sexual relations. However, still others made it clear that they were perfectly willing to say no and make sure their wishes were respected. Kees (15) said that very occasionally he would coerce Max (57) when they had sex:

Kees went on to say about his sexual contact with Max:

When asked how often he bossed Karel (30) around in their sexual relations, Peter (14) said:

Theo (13) said that he sometimes "fibbed" to Bert (35) and "coerced" him when they had sexual relations:

From this answer it can be seen that the boy realized he could withhold sex from his partner and so use it as a power tool. If this subject had been taken up with the older partners other examples might have emerged. In general, however, the boys thought they acted in an agreeable way toward their older partners. Finally let us cite an example from the interview with Ben (10) of how he often cheered on his partner Herman (55) when they had sex:

The Opinions of Others

IN GENERAL, SEX contacts between children and adults are forbidden (Nijhoff 1978). How clearly did these 25 boys realize this and what did it mean to them? Social disapproval meant that the sexual activities, as well as, in some cases, the relationship itself, had to be kept hidden. This could be a heavy burden. Also the fact that these were "deviant" contacts tended to make the boys unsure of themselves. Thus it was important to these boys to be able to talk about the sex openly. Knowing that some other person was aware of the sex and approved of their friendships was probably pleasant.


THE MOST IMPORTANT people in the boys' social environment were their parents. How aware were they of the relationship and its sexual aspect? What was their position with respect to the relationship in which their son was involved? What did they think about the sex, or what would they have thought about it if they knew? And what did this mean for the boys?

Often the parents were aware of the relationship but did not realize that sex with a man occurred within it. In some cases the friendship was carried on quite independently of the parents. That was true of Kees (15) who was living in a boarding home. He was not so concerned about the reaction of his mother but was clearly afraid that they would find out about it at the Home:

Jos, Ton and Martin suspected that their parents, who did not know about the friendships, would not approve of the relationships. Jos (13) imagined that his father would be furious:

Although most of the parents knew about the friendship, the majority didn't know about the sex. Some might have suspected, however. They accepted the friendships, according to the older partners, although in one case they were indifferent or disapproving. But how would they feet if they were certain sex was taking place? Most of them, according to the boys, would find it "not good", "not nice", "dirty" or really bad". Some of the boys thought their fathers would beat up the older partner. But there were also boys who suspected their parents wouldn't find it too bad, or just a little bad, while one boy was unsure of what his parents' attitude would be. In the case of Wouter (12), only the mother knew about the relationship; he was happy she didn't discuss it with his father:

Walter and John thought their parents would consider the sex "dirty".

André (14) suspected his parents would think he would be turned into a homosexual by having sex with Nico (32):

Harrie and Rob also thought their parents wouldn't approve of the sexual contact. Both boys thought that was rather old-fashioned:

Some of the boys wished to respect the disapproving attitudes of their parents but thought they should have the right to decide themselves what they were going to do. Thus Bart (14) said:

It is understandable that the boys were unable to be open with their parents when they suspected they would disapprove. Two boys said they would run the risk of having the relationship broken off.

A few of the parents, the boys or their older partners suspected or knew about the sex as well as the friendship. Thus one mother, according to the older partner, said she didn't have to find out what the two of them did together: "I'm not going to ask; I don't want to know." Other parents realized the older partner was pedophile: nothing was said explicitly but the parents did indicate they knew sex was taking place.

According to Thijs (10), his mother remembered that in the past sex had occurred. When asked whether he wasn't now telling lies to his mother, he answered: "Of course: I don't want to be kept away from him." According to Thijs, his mother thinking it was dirty was "crazy stupid" even though he wouldn't tell her so. When asked why he thought it was "crazy stupid", he said, "Well, just because I know what it's all about. I decide myself what I do."

The parents of Jan and Gerrit also suspected that sex occurred in the relationship.

About one-third of the parents were aware of the sex as well as the relationship, and, according to the older partners, almost all of them fully accepted both. In one case the parental attitude was less positive. In general these boys thought their parents found it all "good", "normal" or "wonderful".

Simon (12) thought his sex is none of their business:

Erik, Hans, Theo and Lex liked it that their parents were positive about the relationship and the sex:

On the one hand these findings are surprising: did the parents who knew about the sex which occurred in these relationships really approve? They were never actually interviewed during the course of this research. On the other hand, whenever parental permission for the interviews was asked it was always granted. How the parents reacted when they learned their sons had an affair was not investigated. This is an important aspect of pedophile relations which, especially in helping avoid problems, deserves more attention.

Another question revolves around those boys whose parents did not know about the sex. What did it mean to them to do things their parents wouldn't approve of and about which they couldn't tell their parents?

Some of the boys talked about this. In one case it caused the boy to doubt himself. In another case the boy didn't wish to risk a rupture in his friendship.

In this connection it is important to keep in mind that young people in general seldom say much to their parents about their affairs and sexual experiences. Straver (1980, page 60) said, "We know from our investigation that young people--if they do talk about their relationships and lovemaking--will much sooner do it with their friends than with their parents or a wider circle of acquaintances." In the literature, other reasons are given why young people do not tell their parents about their pedosexual contacts. Burgess and Holmstrom (1975) proposed that children are forced into secrecy out of fear of being punished by adults (parents as well as the older partner) or of being abandoned. Peters (1976) discovered in his research that of the children he investigated who had had pedosexual contacts 32% had never told anyone about the sex. He attributed this to the fear the child had of the reactions of his parents. According to Peters it is possible that the child does not feel guilty about the sex itself but over the fact that he has to hide it from his parents. In the case of the boys he interviewed, feelings of guilt and anxiety did not play a large role in how they experienced the sexual contact. Rossman (1976) suggested a more obvious explanation: a child is much more likely to inform his parents or the police if he is genuinely abused or forced to participate in the sex against his will. This was investigated by Landis (1956). He discovered that those children who found the contact to a greater or larger degree unpleasant told their parents more often than those who had responded with interest. In this latter case, however, the possibility cannot be eliminated that they then felt more responsible for the sex that occurred and thus had more guilt feelings about it.

Regardless of whether it is a pedophile relationship or a pedosexual contact, most parents react with horror when they learn that their child has been involved in this sort of thing.

According to Gagnon (1965) one of the causes of such a reaction is a feeling that they have somehow failed in their upbringing and protection. They also find it difficult to have to talk about sex with their child and they are afraid that he will become "tainted" by means of a pleasant sexual experience.

Anthony (1975) and Weeks (1976) are of the opinion that the reactions parents have when they discover their child has had a sexual experience are closely related to their own attitudes about sex. Parents who repress their own sexuality are shocked when they observe their offspring having erotic feelings.

Van Ussel (1976, page 36) said that when parents discover their child in a pedophile relationship they feel they have failed in their parental love: "As far as it is possible, however, they will place the blame upon the child (who is now considered 'not completely normal') and especially upon the adult seducer."

These parental reactions are understandable when one realizes how little in general people know about pedosexual contacts and pedophile relationships. If you mention the word "pedophile", many people immediately think of dirty old men abusing children to satisfy their own lusts. This image is largely based upon the broadly embellished and sensational news articles which appear every time a child is sexually abused or murdered.


ALL OF THE BOYS were asked whether there were any of their peers who knew they were having sex with an adult man. Eight boys said there were; five said they were other boys who visited the older partner occasionally and "did it too". In a number of cases there were boys in their schools or their neighborhoods who also knew they were carrying on a pedophile relationship.

Gerrit (16) was occasionally called "queer", but he solved the problem:

Thijs (10) suspected that the kids were talking behind his back. He decided, for tactical reasons, to ignore it:

Martin (12) thought his friends were wrong when they said it was dirty and stupid:

Jos (13) thought people shouldn't interfere with what was none of their business:

The friends of Jan (11) thought it was dirty. He stood up for Sander (41) when they called him names:

In most cases their peers did not know that the boys were carrying on a pedophile relationship. The boys were then asked how their friends would react if they did learn that they were having sex with an adult.

John, Lex, Theo and Simon suspected that they would be called "gay".

Harrie, Bert and Peter didn't really know what their agemates would think about sex with a grown-up.

Peter (14) thought his age-mates wouldn't find it normal, but added, "Just let them think what they want to." René, Paul, Walter and Willem thought their friends would find it less strange if they had some experience themselves. René assumed his friends would think it was stupid, but, he thought, this was "not a real opinion, just jealousy." According to Walter and Willem, the boys didn't have real contact with anybody involved in such relationships; if they had they might find they were doing it themselves.

It appeared from the answers the boys gave that it was easier for them to be independent of their friends' ideas than it was of their parents'. Some of the boys, however, regretted not being able to be open with the people who surrounded them.

Rob, Ben, Erik and Wouter thought that if their agemates found out they simply would not understand.

Ton, Hans and Kees could understand the disapproval of their friends.

The Opinion of the Boys

THE BOYS WERE ALSO asked what they themselves felt about the sexual contact they had with the adults. Often this emerged in their answers to other questions. André (14) had decided between the two interviews not to have sex any longer with his older partner. When asked what he thought about the sexual contact, he said:

André also said this was in part because in the meantime he had begun an affair with a girl, but added:

One can see from what André said that boys can change in the way they think about the sexual contact. It should be kept in mind that André, in contrast to the other boys, experienced with it no feelings of love or intimacy.

None of the other boys stopped having sex with their older partners during the course of the investigation. How did they feel about the sex? The majority of them simply said it was "nice" or"just plain good". Some of the answers were a little more detailed:

He added that he would never try it with any of the'dirty old men':

René, Rob and Simon thought the sex was nice and emphasized that other people shouldn't make such a problem out of it.