Rind Et Al

Rind et al. refers to a very controversial study, A meta-analytic examination of assumed properties of child sexual abuse using college samples, which, as its name implies, is an meta-analysis of child sexual abuse (CSA), by psychologists Bruce Rind, Philip Tromovitch and Robert Bauserman, published in the American Psychological Association journal Psychological Bulletin.

1 Rind et al.

2 Critics

3 Links

Table of contents

Rind et al.

The more controversial conclusions were, among other things:

CSA does not cause intense harm on a pervasive basis regardless of gender.

An important reason why the assumed properties of CSA failed to withstand empirical scrutiny in the current review is that the construct of CSA, as commonly conceptualized by researchers, is of questionable scientific validity.

Instead the authors suggests the term "adult-child sex" for consensual sex. The reason for this is that the concept of consent is predictive valid, it can be used empirically to predict degree of psychological damage, whether the victim describes the encounter as consensual or not.

Moral and legal considerations need not depend on harmfulness but wrongfulness. So the findings do not necessarily have moral and legal implications. This statement was often ignored by critics who used moral and legal rather than scientific arguments.


The study were published July 1998. In December 1998 it was critizised by the American organization the National Association for Research and Therapy of homosexuality (NARTh) for its methodology and conclusions. Later it was also attacked by a Catholic religious newspaper, the talk show host Dom Giordano, and radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger, known as Dr. Laura (who has a Ph.D not in psychology, but in physiology). Among other things, Dr. Laura told the listeners that common scientific practice was that if scientific findings contradicted common sense, they are probably wrong. In this, she was incorrect. (For examples of apparent common-sense observations which are nonetheless wrong, one need look no farther than the concept of a Flat Earth or to those who reject the now-proven heliocentric theory of the solar system).

Soon everyone from Republican politicians to the medical director of the American Psychiatric Association attacked Rind et al. and the APA for publishing it.

On June 9, 1999 Raymon Fowler, president of APA, declared that there were going to be an independent review of Rind et al. The APA declared that "the sexual abuse of children is wrong and harmful to its victims."

On June 12 the American House of Representatives condemned the study, and declared that child-adult sex could be nothing but "abusive and destructive." The resolution was passed unanomously in the Senate.

On September 15, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), whom APA under political pressure had asked for an independent review of the article, said:

  • We see no reason to second guess the process of peer review used by the APA journal in its decision to publish the article in question. While not without its imperfections, peer review is well established as a standard mechanism for maintaining the flow of scientific information that scientists can refer to, critique or build on. After examining all the materials available to the committee, we saw no clear evidence of improper application of methodology or other questionable practices on the part of the article's authors.
  • The Committee also wishes to express its grave concerns with the politicization of the debate over the article's methods and findings. In reviewing the set of background materials available to us, we found it deeply disconcerting that so many of the comments made by those in the political arena and in the media indicate a lack of understanding of the analysis presented by the authors or misrepresented the article's findings. All citizens, especially those in a position of public trust, have a responsibility to be accurate about the evidence that informs their public statements. We see little indication of that from the most vocal on this matter, behavior that the Committee finds very distressing.
The whole affair were discussed a few years later in another APA journal American Psychologist (2002). Several researchers disagree with the way the APA dealt with the Rind et al. affair. Some, including two Psychological Bulletin editors, call the letter from Ray Fowler on June 9, 1999 simple capitulation to political pressure.

Despite political pressure, no evidence has been provide thus far to disprove the study.