Debate Guide: Intrinsic harm

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"Sexual contact between adults and children carries intrinsic harm. Child sex abuse victims are victims of sexual contact"

Violent rape is always harmful, and some sexual encounters and relationships carry an instantaneous guilt burden in sex-negative cultures. However, secondary social victimisation is an important factor in most cases, especially those which were consensual. There is also the possibility of a younger participant feeling coerced into something that they dislike, because of the adult's abusive authority. This is not in any way specific to sexuality and has more to do with sexual attitudes, mores and unhealthy authority relationships. From this, it is clear to see that changes in social perceptions will increase the viability (and possibility) of any loosening of the law.

Our section on research explains what is called secondary harm/victimisation.