Preben Hertoft (5 January 1928 – 26 February 2017), was a Danish psychiatrist and professor in medical sexology, senior doctorate in medicine.
After the death of his mentor Kirsten Auken, Hertoft worked over 40 years as a sexologist doing research, treatment, counseling and education. In 1986, he founded the first medical centre for sexology in Denmark. Most of the time he had heterosexual and homosexual patients with sexual problems in therapy, but he also treated and counselled transvestites and pedophiles.
He was elected a fellow by the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex for outstanding contributions to the field.
In 1986, he wrote the introduction for Crime without victims: A book about paedophilia. The book was edited by the "Trobriands" collective of authors, and translated from Danish to English by Dr. Edward Brongersma in 1993. The book includes many interview testimonies, and 2 chapters by Dr. Arne Frederiksen ("What Science Tells Us"), and Bent Petersen, a Sexologist and PhD Candidate in Psychology ("The Sexual Child"). Hertoft's introduction was titled "Paedophiles Don't Hurt Children".
Sexual assault is always an unacceptable act and can never be justified. We must be particularly alert when such an assault is committed upon a child. In all contacts between an adult and a child - and not only sexual ones - the adult bears a special responsibility.
During the last few years I have met a number of men who define themselves as paedophiles. They came to me because they were unhappy, were misunderstood or humiliated, or were afraid of the reactions of their colleagues, of their parents or of various authorities. There was always the chance, if things went wrong, that they would be mistaken for violent criminals or even murderers. They loved children - and they did not deny that they also loved them sexually, but this did not mean that they lacked a sense of responsibility, nor that they would ever consider hurting a child. On the contrary, they had often aided children who were in trouble and felt betrayed, and they were upset by the considerable number of children who lead such an unhappy life in our society.
Paedophiles are a group under attack and their situation is an unfortunate one, for in many cases the object of their interest and love will always remain unattainable. Easy solutions to many of the problems facing paedophiles simply do not exist.
There are so many misunderstandings about paedophilia, and discussions of the subject are so often emotional rather than objective - understandable, perhaps, but hardly helpful - that I will try in the following pages to clarify the subject.
[I]n cases of mutual consent and mutual sexual attraction, sexual activity itself seems to produce no damaging effects. It is to be hoped that this may put parents' minds at rest and help them to avoid being unnecessarily upset and anxious.