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Dear Dr Robert!

First of all, if someone was indeed a molester would you tell him "yes you are a molester" if he asked you? Because in all the letters at your site you seem to relax the questioners if they were child molesters. But when the molested ones asks you, you will answer that "yes maybeyou were molested". More exactly what would this child do less so that you would say to it "and if you undressed them or touched their genitals so as to be turned on it would be normal" and what this girl's cousin did worse when the questioner said that her cousin was touching her and things like that so as to draw the conclusion and tell her that her cousin was a molester. Is is a matter of age? Because in both these situations no exact age was referred only that they were some years older. Or because of the duration of the molestation, because in the first happened once or twice. . . and in the second was happening for 2 years and now the girl faces some problems. And how should a child molester feel now? Guilty for the rest of his life..? I mean he was a child too then. And one last question: You may say at your site that children sexuality is normal and innocent but when even a 4year old touches another 4 year old child or put things in the genitals of the other girl people call him a molester and that he/she is so unexcused for what he/she did. Doesn’t your medical explanation come in contrast to the common people's point of view? And what after all is the most logical or right explanation? Aren' t children innocent?? Isn't children sexuality expected to be appeared at some point in their lives?? I am so sorry if I tired you! I'll be waiting for your answer for as long as it takes. Thank you very much indeed!

Olga T.

I'm a female, 29 and I live in Greece

ask dr-robert


Whether an incident is molestation or not depends, in my opinion, on whether there is a large difference in power between the two people involved. Two children of roughly similar ages may do all kinds of things sexually, but none of it would be molestation because the sex is not the result of one child taking advantage of the other, but simply a case of curiosity leading to experimentation which is a normal part of child development.

A real molester (in other words, not a child who experimented with another child, but an older person who took sexual advantage of a weaker, less experienced child) should feel guilty, and should get help so that he or she will not molest other children. Until such a person comes to terms with the problem, other adults should try to keep that person away from children, and should report to the police any incidents of sexuality with children. And yes, I would tell such a person that he or she was a molester. The people I told to stop feeling guilty were not molesters, but people who, as children, had participated in one way or another in sexual play. Sexual play is not molestation!

Anyone who calls a four year old child a "molester" is simply ignorant, and should be ignored or corrected. My explanation is not a "medical" one, but the point of view of a great number of intelligent, informed psychologists--we aren't medical doctors, but doctors of philosophy in the field of psychology--who use their training and experience, not the so-called "moral teachings" of religion, to understand the human mind and its motivations. The "common people’s view," as you put it, is, unfortunately, usually based on the idea that sex is sinful unless practiced by married people, and so is certainly sinful if practiced by a child. From that limited perspective, anything sexual that a child does is wrong, sinful, or criminal. That is a foolish idea in my view, and so I do not even consider it when asked about this subject.

Sometimes when someone tells me that he or she was "molested," I try to find out if the person actually feels molested or if that person is only going by the "common people’s view." If I see that the person is mostly tuned in to the common people's view, I might explain that the sex was not molestation, but if the person actually feels molested, I might agree. This will not have anything to do with duration or what actually happened, but only about where the feeling of having been molested comes from.

I hope this clears up your doubts, and you are welcome.

Be well.

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