LeRoy G. Schultz

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LeRoy G. Schultz (birth / death date unknown) is / was an Emeritus Professor of Social Work at West Virginia University. He is known for his early publications, stretching from the 1950s-1990s, which offered guidelines for professionals working with legally defined child victims of sex offenses, cautioning against hysteria / over-reactions from parents and professionals which risk introducing iatrogenic/secondary harm. His publications are indicative of the pre-1980s scholarly consensus, as one contributor put it in a 1980 volume he edited:

The fact agreed upon by psychiatrists, that a child may be affected only by the events subsequent to the offense (which itself did not affect him), or that the ill effects of the offense may be aggravated by those reactions[.][1]


Many child victims consent intentionally or unwittingly to the sex offense, or offer only passive resistance. In many child victimization relationships the victim and offender are in a symbiotic relationship or they form a cooperative dyad. The degree of consent and the type of child sex victim-offender relationship is important to know since it shapes the victim’s as well as society’s attitude toward the sexual offense and toward the offender and it will affect the victim’s willingness to legally testify against him and possibly generate subsequent guilt feelings. (p. 259).

In general, physical force and violence on child victims play a small role in the offenses', for example, 4 percent of 333 court cases. This is related to the fact that most sex offenses against children are committed by persons they have a relationship with prior to the offense, such as a family friend, a neighbor or teacher, so that physical force is unnecessary to the success of the offense. (p. 260).

The effect of victimization upon children has been exaggerated in the earlier literature, partly due to a naive misunderstanding of the role of sexuality in the development of children, average child’s adaptive capacity and a Victorian belief that sex must leave permanent trauma for the innocent child. Generally, sexual assaults of children do not have an excessively unsettling effect on personality development, nor a serious effect on his later adult adjustment. (p. 260).

Possible negative or traumatic effects are related to the amount of violence employed by the offender, the type and depth of the child’s relationship to the offender, and the family’s, society’s and significant others reaction to the offense. (p. 261).

By far, the greatest potential trauma to the child’s personality is caused by society, its institutions, and the victim’s parents as a result of (1) the need for the court to use the child victim for the prosecution of the offender, and (2) the need of the victim’s parents to prove to themselves, other family members, neighbors, and significant others that the victim was free of any victimogenisus and that they were good parents. (p. 262).

Child trauma occurs as a result of the courts' need to have the child victim repeat the details of the sexual offense several times, to police, warrant officers, prosecutors, and a jury of twelve adults, sometimes with the suspected sex offender present. This places what is perhaps in the child’s mind a short-lived traumatic event with few permanent consequences, out of proportion to its importance to him, and forces the child to reorientate his ideas toward a confusing adult interpretation of the offense, its new importance, and the victim’s role in punishing the offender. Most police, sheriffs and prosecutors have no training or education in positive methods of interviewing children and tend to use adversary approaches (p. 263).

It is clear from research on child sex victims that it is not the sexual act per se that creates trauma, but the parent's behavior towards the child victim on discovery of the offense, and how this parental behavior affects the child. Parents may overreact, become hysterical or physically attack the offender in front of the child. They may physically attack, berate, belittle or punish the victim, or demand, under threats, that the child inform court and police officials that the sex offense was not provoked by the victim. [...] Parents will need help in accepting the offense in such a way that horror, panic and fright are not communicated to the child so as to create trauma where perhaps none existed before (p. 264).

Particular avoidance should be made to lengthy description of sexual pathology or dirty old men generalizations which compound the problem further. The relative harmlessness of certain types of sexual behavior for the victim, exhibitionism for example, should be reinforced, and a feeling that the child can share his sexual ideas and experience with open-minded parents may prevent concealment of damaging experiences. (pp. 268-9).

He concludes with 5 points (p. 272):

  • 1. Probably less than 5 percent of all child-sex victims are assaulted through physical violence or vaginal/anal penetration, so that physical damage is minimal in most cases.
  • 2. Most of the child-sex victims who would be traumatized by court experience, indicated personality disturbances before the offense.
  • 3. Most of the sexually assaulted children, where no violence was employed, were engaging in affection-seeking behavior and do not perceive the offense at the time as traumatic.
  • 4 Guilt in sexual victims is fairly absent, but may be engendered by parents, courts or community after the fact.
  • 5 Most sexual assaults do not affect the child’s personality development, particularly where neither violence nor court appearance occurred.

Schultz, Rape Victimology, ed. by Schultz (Charles C. Thomas Publishers: Springfield, Illinois, U.S.A. 1975).

Menstruation signaled sexual readiness for the female, adult marriage to children was common, as was routinely having intercourse with, or in view of ones children. Sleeping arrangements were crude and simple with all sleeping near the fireplace. Only the invention of the chimney and central-heating later were to allow for children's separate bedrooms. In the late 1600s, moralists recommended separate beds and rooms for children (Hunt, 1970; Flaherty, 1972) but they did not architecturally evolve for some 200 years later. The clergyman Dominic was one of the first to indicate an interest in children’s sexual protection from parents and in 1405 A.D. he warned parents [...] to avoid nudity in front of one’s children because of its temptations (Bullough, 1976). (p. 22)

The state as protector of children’s sexual integrity surfaced in the 1500s as a secular interest. For example, laws were passed in Germany which punished boys under age 14 years arrested as customers of prostitutes (Boesch, 1900). The books by the famous educator Gerson in 1706 suggested that children should be trained to avoid sexual victimization and that it was the duty of parents to induce guilt and trauma if children were discovered in self-pleasuring (DeMause, 1974). In this same time period the prominent educator Pascal [...] warned parents to supervise children at all times of the day and night, to never pamper them, to prohibit children's nudity near adults, to closely control servants spending time with children, and the general enforcement of sexual modesty everywhere. These simple rules may be the first concrete help parents received from any source in controlling themselves and their children in terms of sexual interaction. A few years later the first sexual censorship of children’s literature commenced. Thus, children’s sexual innocence, as defined by the upper middle classes, and their sexual naturalness were to be curbed, bridled, restricted, and supervised. Parents were instructed by "experts" to keep candles burning in children's sleeping areas so that they may be checked for self-pleasuring (Aries, 1962, 109). Servants and the clergy were instructed to refrain from developing close relationships to children for fear of its sexual potential. Teachers were told to refrain from corporal punishment that included beating the child’s naked buttocks since it could produce sexual pleasure. Some children of the well-to-do class were given as many as 1000 enemas to remove "evil" from their bodies (DeMause, 1975; Ferriani, 1901). During this time, children were to be considered potentially sexually dangerous and consequently, asexuality was to be enforced. These developments foretold of the coming attack on children’s sexual integrity by a well meaning society. (pp. 22-23)

By approximately 1850 the medicalization of children’s sexuality assumed that all pediatric problems could be attributed to early sexual activity and a wholesale effort to curb such activity commenced [...] All the little angels of chastity also harbored the devil of depravity. Once society sensed that children were sexual beings in some degree, [...] law, medicine and education came forward to morally police their sexual development. Sexual feelings in children were to be circumscribed by the term “sexual precocity,” and were presumed to lead to a wide variety of pediatric illnesses, particularly if manifested by self-stimulation or masturbation (Newman, 1975; Engelhardt, 1974; Comfort, 1967; Spitz, 1953). The child was viewed as a simple undisciplined animal who needs protection from himself. (pp. 23-24).

The fear was that masturbation in boys led to insanity, growth retardation, or early death, and in girls, that masturbation lead to precocious sexual development, promiscuity and nymphomania. [...] Masturbation control efforts and programs occurred in two rough time phases. Phase one (1850-1900) marked the period of forced sexual underdevelopment via surgery and phase two (1875-1925) via physical/psychological constraints. Surgical procedures practiced upon children only, consisted of partial or complete removal of the clitoris (sometimes without anesthesia), slitting or infibulating the penis, cauterization of clitoris or penis, castration of extra sexual active boys and the cutting out of nerves of both sexes’ genitalia. As late as 1936 a common American medical textbook recommended that masturbation be controlled by circumcision of children (Holt, 1936).

The use of various constraints for desexualizing children consisted of the encasing the child in canvas and splints, encasing in plaster of paris, blistering the genitalia with red mercury, terror therapy, and if all these failed, committing the child to a "masturbation sanatoria" [...] Parents could purchase chastity belts or girdles made of leather and bone to prevent “touching.” An iron spike-ring could be placed around the penis, or “child-proof” gloves could be placed on the hands. Other methods consisted of immersing the child's sex organs in ice water, dressing the child caught masturbating in uniforms that told the community about it, placing bells on children's hands at night, strapping hands to bedside, child battery, and a wide variety of trauma induction methods. Mercifully, by the 1920s raping children's sex organs in these ways, came to a slow end as a cure for “early” sexual development. (pp. 24-25).

On 1st-wave Feminism and persecuting the working-class: Between 1877 and 1885, a powerful coalition was formed calling itself the Social Purity Alliance, made up of feminists, social workers, the clergy and members of the Salvation Army, the Young Women’s Christian Association and Women’s Christian Temperance Union (Pivar, 1976; Schlossman, Wallich, 1978). The group mission was to preserve childhood sexual innocence, to rescue “sexual drunkards” and “fallen women.” Their strategy was to force the age of sexual consent as high as possible for adolescent prostitutes and “normal” girls, thus overextending itself (Schultz, 1980; Schlossman, Wallich, 1978). [...] As Gorham states, “feminists tended to share the same feelings of anxiety over youthful female sexuality as other members of the middleclass. Although they felt obliged to redress the sexual wrongs done to working class girls by men of a superior class, they registered the same repugnance toward incorrigible girls as they had earlier toward unrepentant prostitutes. For them, as well as for more repressive moralists, the desire to protect young girls thinly masked coercive impulses to control their voluntary sexual responses and to impose a social code on them in keeping with the middle-class view of female adolescent dependency” (Walkowitz, 1980, 127). The effect of the new age-of-consent law was to give police, courts and social welfare agencies far greater jurisdiction over children and the poor. (pp. 25-26).

Social welfare institutions and services moved from protecting girls from a harsh society to protecting society from sexually active girls (Walkowitz, 1980; Schlossman, Wallich, 1978). This social movement also resulted in the creating of a new crime for boys called “statutory rape,” and the criminalizing of girls voluntary sexual lovemaking in the status offense of “sexual incorrigibility” (Conners, 1979; Schultz, 1980; Greenfield, 1978). (p. 27).

Each large urban area swelled by immigration and migration, attempted to clean up on commercial sexuality (vice) by establishing so called Morals Courts (Worthington, Topping, 1921). These courts and their social control arms, attempting to curb “white slavery” or adolescent prostitution, passed law and policy that overextended itself and ended up intruding into the sexual expression of “normal” girls and boys. [...] Social works unity with the mental health movement induced a shift from viewing certain sexual expression as sin or immoral to the clinical labelling of such activity as “abnormality,” “perversion” or “deviancy,” thus continuing the medicalizing of sexuality. This labelling process helped shape both diagnosis and intervention from a medical model, for both actors in any sexual event. Since children were presumed to be innocent and consentless, sexual acts with them were automatically “traumatic”. (pp. 27-28).

Including sexual abuse or misuse within the definition of physical child abuse may prove to be an unfortunate historical alliance. It wrongly conveys a victim-offender dichotomy that does not always hold in sexual interactions, it wrongly conveys physical damage which is true in only 5%—10% of child sex-abuse (Gagnon, 1965), it does not deal with voluntary consenting reciprocal sexual activities that may be non-damaging, it does not acknowledge that children and adolescents are sexual beings and that sexual expression is a minor’s right if it does not risk pregnancy. Definitions of “sexual abuse” are dangerously vague and make clear professional intervention unlikely except in the obvious case situations. The very labelling and intervention in child/adolescent/adult sexual interaction may themselves be victimogenic or traumatogenic (Schultz, 1980) (p. 29).

In the face of trauma assumption, the difficulty for some child victims centers on forcing them to take a short lived act in the child’s mind, with few permanent consequences, and to enlarge it all out of proportion, forcing the child to reorient his ideas to the confused adult interpretation of the event. Since we all are expected to react severely to child-adult sexual encounters, such a reaction is bound to insure the unlikelihood of victims escaping the difficulties produced by the definition and interpretation. Needed are criteria to assist professionals on deciding the appropriateness of intervention or non-intervention. Early learning that occurs in sexual interaction, unless repeated over time, is no more than a link in the child's developmental chain. It is the “here and now” that has the powerful effect on behavior (Cass, Thomas, 1979; Clarke, Clarke, 1976; Courtois, 1979; Tsai et al., 1979).

It is no longer defensible to apply diagnostic and intervention models, appropriate to those victims who are truly victimized, to the large majority who apparently are not. [...] Professionals advise parents on how to play down the sexual event to control for negative victim impact, they have cautioned the legal profession against creating legal-process trauma. It would be a short step for all professionals to do the same. Becoming a victim is a process, not just a status [...] Intervention should not simply confirm victim-stereotypes. (p. 29)

The power to define sexual abuse is not simply descriptive, but also prescriptive. All interventions should be evaluated not on the good they might do, but rather on the basis of the harm they might do; the standard for all child care interventions. Uncritical enthusiasm for intervention may compound the harm or waste time [...] Tomorrow’s findings, as “victims” come out of the closet we have put them into, may force us to reevaluate many sexual aspects of family life, and individual freedom for both child/adolescent and adult, which are based on myth, naivete, conventional wisdom and poor research (p. 30)

The future should include reasonable protection of children’s sexual integrity, flexible enough to reflect a variety of life-styles, social classes, ethnic groups and concepts of harmless sexual expression, without the destruction of the human potential for sexual love by repression in childhood and adolescence. A more reasonable, clear, operational and justified set of child/adolescent protections, and a more democratic distribution of sexual rights for minors awaits the future. (p. 32)

Schultz, Child Sexual Abuse In Historical Perspective, in Social work and child sexual abuse, ed. by Conte, Jon R; Shore, David A (New York: Haworth Press, 1982).


only 4% of the respondents reported that they would have liked to have had counseling.

Kilpatrick's plea to give truth a chance will probably fall on deaf ears. The "child advocates" who believe adult-child sexual contact is always harmful and destructive will see these findings as distracting society from its mission to protect children. Those who believe that all sexually abused children need psychotherapy to help them cope with the experience are not likely to change their views. The implications of this research simply are counter to our society's prevailing political ideology.

Obviously, the confusion about the effects of adult-child sexual contact needs to be clarified for everyone concerned and this study provides important information. If a given child is, in fact, not harmed by a sexual experience with an adult, treating the child like a victim and subjecting the child to months of feeling-expressive play therapy is likely to be iatrogenic. Also, attorneys, social workers, and mental health experts would profit from using Kilpatrick's findings as they apply to various states in judicial proceedings.

This book, which ruptures prevailing myths, should be read by all professionals who deal with child sexual abuse.


  1. David Libai, THE PROTECTION OF THE CHILD VICTIM OF A SEXUAL OFFENSE IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. In Rape Victimology, ed. by Schultz (Charles C. Thomas Publishers: Springfield, Illinois, U.S.A. 1975), p. 285.
  2. The victim-offender relationship, Crime & Delinquency Volume 14, Issue 2 (1968). (Original journal, non sci-hub link)
  3. TaylorFrancis Record