New Hampshire professor clarifies claim that children can initiate sexual predatory behavior in adults

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A University of New Hampshire professor  recently warned that people should not assume all pedophilic conduct “starts “with a predatory or criminally inclined adult” because sometimes children initiate the sexual acts with adults who are not otherwise “criminally inclined.”

“If young people are initiating sexual activities with adults, or enthusiastically involved, we can’t be effective working with them if we assume that all such relationships start with a predatory or criminally inclined adult,” Professor David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, said during a March forum that was recently posted on the Twitter account LibsofTikTok.

David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center

David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center
(University of New Hampshire)

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Finkelhor added, “We’ve seen in the discussion, young people bridle at being forced into this box of being seen as the victim of a predator, and so there are reasons for learning about what the dynamics are and how to talk about them so that we can better help the young people who are in these situations.”

David Finkelhor, PhD, Director of Crimes against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire REUTERS/Pat Little 

David Finkelhor, PhD, Director of Crimes against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire REUTERS/Pat Little 
(REUTERS/Pat Little (UNITED STATES – Tags: CRIME LAW SOCIETY EDUCATION))

Finkelhor explained in the discussion, which was titled “Sex Crimes Against Juveniles Involving Elements of Voluntary Participation: Implications for Prevention and Response”, that there is “ambiguity about and discussion and lack of consensus about what to call these kinds of episodes.”

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Finkelhor said that he created a new term to describe the interaction which he calls “voluntary elements to the sexual relationship between the child and considerably older partner.”

“It can be a kind of manipulation of consent, it can be ambivalence about something that an adult takes advantage of, it can be about actual curiosity the child has to discover sex or do things that adults do,” Finkelhor said. “It can actually represent a very enthusiastic kind of participation on the part of the child who really feels very positively about the adult and sees themselves as wanting to have some kind of relationship.”

David Finkelhor, PhD, director of Crimes against Children Research Center, the University of New Hampshire REUTERS/Pat Little 

David Finkelhor, PhD, director of Crimes against Children Research Center, the University of New Hampshire REUTERS/Pat Little 
(REUTERS/Pat Little )

Finkelhor attempted to clarify his remarks in a statement to Fox News on Tuesday.

“Adults are fully culpable of a crime if they have sex with a minor under the age of consent, whether or not the teen initiates it or participates voluntarily,” Finkelhor said. “The adults should be prosecuted.  I do not condone adults having sexual contact with minors.”

Finkelhor continued, “My main point was about how to work with the victims to minimize current and future harm. To do that, the police and child protection workers need to understand the actual dynamics, which sometimes don’t fit the expectations they may bring. These unexpected cases aren’t common, but they need to be discussed.”

Finkelhor also took issue with journalists reporting that his comments are related to pedophilia. 

“This term applies only to people (men) who have a sexual interest in pre-pubescent children. Adult sex with a teen is a serious crime but not pedophilia,” Finkelhor said. “My talk was exclusively about adult sex with teens. Some of that involves adult women and teen age boys. Still a crime. But even people who like to misuse the term pedophile don’t tend to apply it easily to those cases. Police and child protection need to work with those boys, and therefore they need to understand the dynamics.”

The University of New Hampshire did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News.

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