A Dangerous New Definition of Childhood
Letter to the President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi
(This letter was written on June 27, 2001 by E. J. Haeberle on behalf of the DGSS of which he was president from 1986-2002. It was co-signed by its vice president, Rolf Gindorf.)
Dear Mr. President,
As a German association of sexuality researchers and university educators of 30 years standing, the DGSS (German Society for Social Scientific Sexualiy Reasearch) is greatly concerned about the above proposal in view of the unintended consequences of the above-mentioned framework decision should it become law.
Much as we welcome any effort to save
children from sexual and other exploitation, we, as sexologists, are convinced
that the above proposal will not serve its intended purpose but instead must be
called counter-productive. Therefore we join our colleagues from the ÖGS
(Austrian Society for Sexuality Research) in their detailed and well-reasoned
letter to you dated
In particular we are drawing your attention to the following aspects:
To extend the definition of "child"
to the age of 18 (or 16 in some cases) for the purpose of protecting
adolescents from sexual exploitation is to invite very grave and obviously
unintended consequences on a massive scale. In short, such an ill-informed law
would end up criminalizing countless "normal", healthy adolescents in
There is no doubt in our minds that, eventually, the law would have to be repealed once the enormous damage it would cause became evident. In the meantime, however, the lives of thousands of harmless adolescents would have been ruined. It is absurd, e. g., to punish a 19-year old for taking photos or looking at pictures of his 17-year old girlfriend - and so on down the line.
The framework decision betrays a woeful lack
of awareness of today's sexual realities in
For example, as anyone familiar with the
sexual dimensions of the internet knows, adolescents all over
This is "dogoodism" running amuck. We dare say that most European parents, if the knew about this framework decision, would be horrified and would vehemently protest against this attempt to criminalize their children.
We therefore urge you in the strongest possible terms to exert all of your influence to prevent this misguided legislation from going forward.