29 November 1976 |
Los Angeles Times
re: "30,000 Children Sexually Exploited",
L.A. Times, November 19, 1976
The Times and law enforcement authorities have once again leveled an insult at the community of Los Angeles, and the gay community in particular, by the article dealing with the sexual abuse of children. It is an unfair exploitation of emotional appeal to present such an article with statistics that are openly based on nothing more than estimates.
Furthermore, in an article beginning with the police claim that "this is not being done to harass homosexuals" it is preposterous that not one word after that paragraph refers to the problem of heterosexual child molestation or intra-family child abuse, each of which is a far more frequent and serious problem, statistically.
Finally, there is the problem of who is really exploiting whom. Agreed, the sexual activities referred to are illegal and as such, under present law, must be prosecuted when discovered. But anyone familiar with the "streets" and the realities of adolescence will recognize the obvious misinformation in reports that all the children are victims and all the adults are "perverts."
The assumption is that these kids couldn't be homosexuals themselves, so they must be looking only for money, kicks or affection. But the fact is that homosexuality is a part of our society (and virtually every other society as well, for that matter) and homosexual feelings do not "magically" appear at a gay person's 18th birthday. Many boys and girls "naturally" gravitate toward adult relationships before they are themselves legal adults, and some concern and understanding must be shown for these relationships; if not, the children may "learn" that intimacy is bad, and genuinely helpful adults will continue to be mercilessly witch-hunted.
My suggestion is a policy of vigorous prosecution in cases of true forceful abuse -- and a policy of warning-cum-counseling in instances of misguided relationships with consenting youngsters.
[NOTE: The late Betty Berzon, Ph.D., who co-signed this letter, was a psychologist author and activist, and my employer at the time the letter was published.]