Save the children

September 17, 2009

Initial responses to my research on paedophilia originally led me to conclude that there is no consensus among academics on the harmfulness of adult sexual contact with children ("Paedophilia research riles and titillates the academy", 10 September). The online comments that the article has elicited have certainly added weight to that conclusion.

I have found myself wondering where are the comments from academics concerned primarily with child-protection issues. Responses focusing on the experiences of adults sexually attracted to children have been rather more evident.

While these are important, for me the main aspect is how to relate my research findings to child protection. I hope the academy will be able to use this discussion to explore current child-protection initiatives, such as the proposed vetting and barring procedures, and thus examine how we can use these insights to keep children safe. From the comments so far, the academy has a long way to go before it takes the protection of children seriously.

Sarah Goode, Director, Research and Policy Centre for the Study of Faith and Wellbeing in Communities, University of Winchester.

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