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Annotated bibliography: Definitional problems

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Green, R., “Is pedophilia a mental disorder?”, Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 31, no. 6, 2002, pp. 467-471.

British sexologist Richard Green describes changing definitions of pedophilia in successive editions of DSM and writes that the current definition is logically incoherent. He writes that it fails to meet the DSM’s own criteria for classification as a mental disorder.

Haugaard, J.J., "The challenge of defining child sexual abuse," American Psychologist, vol. 55, no. 9, 2000, pp. 1036-1039.

Jeffrey J. Haugaard of Cornell University describes the lack of consensus among researchers, lawmakers, and clinicians on the fundamental issue of defining child sexual abuse (CSA). He notes that definitional ambiguity precludes the creation of a useful body of knowledge, and he proposes a solution to this problem.

Haugaard, J.J. & Emery, R.E., "Methodological issues in child sexual abuse research," Child Abuse & Neglect, vol. 13, 1989, pp. 89-100.

Jeffrey J. Haugaard and Robert E. Emery of the University of Virginia describe the results of their study finding that the definition of CSA has significant impact on estimates of prevalence and effects. A broad definition based on age differences resulted in the finding that CSA was unrelated to any negative effects. Thus, such definitions may have the effect of erroneously "minimizing experiences of some victims while raising overconcern about the experiences of others."

Li, C.K., "Adult sexual experiences with children," in Li, C.K., West, D.J., & Woodhouse, T.P., Children’s sexual encounters with adults, London: Duckworth, pp. 139-316, 1990a.

Psychologist Chin-Keung Li notes that widely varying definitions of "child," "abuse," and "abuser," along with different kinds of samples and varying response rates, result in widely discrepant estimates of prevalence, ranging from 2% to 30% among boys. He writes that claims of the ubiquity of child sexual abuse ignore a crucial issue--the proportion of activities included that are consensual, which evidence suggests may be over 80%.

West, D.J. & Woodhouse, T.P., "Sexual encounters between boys and adults," in Li, C.K., West, D.J., & Woodhouse, T.P., Children’s sexual encounters with adults, London: Duckworth, pp. 3-137, 1990.

D.J. West & T.P. Woodhouse argue that the use of inconsistent and overly broad definitions of "abuse" obscure important issues and lead to unreliable or useless findings, fragmentary and conflicting information, and debates that are more polemical than well-informed. He also notes problems with making generalizations based on imprisoned sex offenders.

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