How old?

Given my recent ranty post about having ‘children’ listed as a hard limit, I am now going to ask a question that hits hard up against that rant.

What age does someone have to be before it ok to talk to them about *their interest* in BDSM? I use the emphasis there because I am making a distinction between young people being coerced and young people who HAVE this interest, they have these feelings and they don’t know what to do with them, or where to go with them, or who they can talk to, or where they can find information… etc.

I know there are a lot of people involved in BDSM who say that their interests started when they were children, before they understood what it meant to ask their little friends to tie them up, but they knew that it made them feel ‘funny’.

When I was a kid and still playing with Barbie and Ken dolls, I played out rape scenes and I knew it turned me on. I guess I was 12 or so. I knew it was ‘wrong’ (my sister was disgusted when she caught me and refused to let me commit that horror on her Barbies ever again!), and I was ashamed, even while I found it exciting.

Given kids are sexually active well before ‘adulthood’ (in the US, 27% of boys aged 15 and 23% of girls aged 15 have had oral sex with an opposite-sex partner *), what do we do with those kids who come looking for information about BDSM before they are of legal age? Do we practice the ‘just say no’ mantra with regard to information because they are ‘too young’?

This is an old post by maymay, but recently a confused 16yo girl commented there and she says:

Am I too young to be interested? Especially because I’m a girl? I generally feel very alone, in this. Like there aren’t other people like me, or at least now, at my age… And I just keep thinking ‘I can’t wait until I’m 18′ when it would be more okay to ask or talk about.

Where does she get good, balanced, intelligent advice from if she is not allowed to talk to the very people who are able to give it to her because she is not yet an adult and therefore doesn’t have direct access to adult resources?

So, a little story from my personal experience. Many years ago when I was on IRC (yes, that long ago!), I came across a 17yo boy who, for obvious reasons, didn’t reveal his age until we had been talking for some time. He refused to be dissuaded from his desperation to ‘get into the community’ despite my best efforts, and I knew that in this sub frenzy, he would not be able to make the right decisions to keep himself safe. He was going to do it with or without me, so I had a choice to either wash my hands of him and leave him to his own devices or do my best to guide him and keep him safe. I chose the latter.

I met up with him, and essentially took him under my wing, to educate him as well as I could, to introduce him to some gentle aspects of D/s, and to keep him safe. To the outside world, he was ‘mine’ in the sense that I was his Domme, I took him to munches and events as ‘mine’, he knelt at my feet while there in public, and he served me (in a non sexual way) with little chores and gentle D/s interplay in private.

I look back with hindsight, and I think I was naive in a lot of ways, and would probably handle it differently now, but at the time, my primary concern was that if it wasn’t me who took him under my wing, it would be someone else who perhaps would not have his best interests at heart.

So there’s the question… what do we do with these non-adults who are already sexually active, very sexually aware, who feel this way, who carry the weight of ‘wrongness’ on their shoulders and don’t know where to go for help and information? How old is ‘old enough’? Where do we point them? How do we help them?

* http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr036.pdf

___

Addendum:

Scarleteen seems to be the only English speaking internet resource specifically for young people that includes both information and a discussion forum. I sent them an email asking about BDSM information specifically, and Heather Corinna came back with the following:

We have a few articles focused on BDSM issues specifically, but then also some general articles that (like most of our articles) are inclusive of BDSM and would probably be helpful. Here’s a list for you to get started with:
Working the kinks out (D/s)
When sex goes wrong (bondage)
Can I like BDSM and still be a feminist?
Talking about sex with a partner
What is ‘sex’?
Navigating consent
Yes/No/Maybe List

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62 Comments

  1. With the exception of a specific BDSM focus, the questions you're raising here are exactly the reason why KinkForAll is expressly an all-ages event. As far as I know, it is the event of its kind to do this, and I'm still taking serious flak for that. (Sigh.)

    If you haven't yet seen it, I would be very interested in your thoughts on the video I produced on this topic: Sexual Adultism. In it, among other things, I say:

    When I needed sexuality information as an adolescent my schools, my teachers, my parents, and even my trusted adult friends would not talk to me about it. I suspect they must have been afraid of the very things I sense some people who wish to restrict the access of minors to educational events like these KinkForAll unconferences are afraid of. Finding information about sexuality in public libraries and on the Internet very literally saved my young, questioning, and very isolated life. I don’t want any other young person to go through the isolation and uncertainty I felt about my own sexuality at that age. Do you?

  2. Here in Germany there is a obviously well maintained Forum for younger BDSM people. They call themselves “BDSM-Jugend” (BDSM youth), and on their website http://www.smjg.org minors who are into any BDSM can exchange with each other, meet people of alike interests, ask their questions, get profund answers from people of their age and/or “experienced” ones. It seems that the BDSM-Jugend is a lively community and – as far as I read in their forum – it's as relaxed and funny as serious and reliable.
    I don't know if there are comparable comparable communities in the English speaking world, but I'd suppose there are.

    rené

  3. maymay: “As far as I know, it is the event of its kind to do this, and I'm still taking serious flak for that. (Sigh.)”

    I have read enough of your posts to have seen *some* of the flak that you got publicly for it and I am sure that what you got in private was much worse. Your stellar efforts to engage in conversation with those opposing the idea were laudable.

    There is a complete paranoia about young people and information about sexual topics for the same erroneous reasons that have been around for a million years and the fear is magnified as soon as you add anything out of the mainstream to the equation.

    I always wonder how they think it works. Not talking about being gay doesn't make gay kids any less gay, it just makes them isolated, scared and unsupported. Substitute anything you like for 'gay' and the sentence would be the same.

    I'll have a look at your video, thanks for the link.

    Ferns

  4. rené: “Here in Germany there is a obviously well maintained Forum for younger BDSM people.”

    Thanks for the link to BDSM-Jugend. I am not aware of any English speaking forums for minors, and I fear that searching will turn up horrible porn, but I will have a go!

    Ferns

  5. Yes, it would be interesting to see if there's something like the BDSM-Jugend in the U.S. or elsewhere too. When I first heared of this kind of community, I also thought that it may be quite an obscure thing, but it isn't. On there site they have a lot of very informative texts, not just for the young people to help them understand their feelings and provide a lot of useful information about any aspects of BDSM and one's personal dealing with it (coming out etc.), but also for their parents or other relatives seeking informations about what's going on in their kid's heads. They provide so called “Stammtische”, i. e. opportunities to meet with other BDSM-people of one's region. Those “Stammtische” meet regularily and everybode interested in exchanging with others is free to attend. And, of course, they provide the oppotunity to exchange via their online-forum.

  6. @rene Sadly I have to disagree with you about the smjg. I was grossly disappointed with the organization and felt that internalized shame was not only prevalent but promoted. No one I spoke to was willing to do any measure of outreach beyond the smjg website. When I posed the possibility of doing some outreach at the university campuses in town they flat out shot it down. It was not an option at all and yet they wondered why there hadn't been new members to their Stammtisch(munch) in over a year.

    I started exploring my kinks before I had a vocabulary for what I was doing. i didn't exactly feel shame, but I did feel like a freak, so I couldn't tell anyone when it went wrong and I ended up emotionally or physically hurt.

    @maymay I am so glad that Kink For All really is for all. Thank you. I wasn't great at finding the information that might have been out there when i was younger, and even now, there is very little available to minors. I'm hoping that your efforts help the trend towards a more kink-aware society.

    Cheers!

  7. rené: “Yes, it would be interesting to see if there's something like the BDSM-Jugend in the U.S. or elsewhere too.”

    It sounds great!

    Would you mind emailing them to see if they are aware of any similar English-speaking forums? I had a look at it, but of course, can't make head nor tails of the content to go digging for a likely contact address.

    Ferns

  8. Anonymous: “I was grossly disappointed with the organization and felt that internalized shame was not only prevalent but promoted. No one I spoke to was willing to do any measure of outreach beyond the smjg website.”

    Oh, I'm sorry your experience with it wasn't good. I don't suppose you found any alternatives?

    “…so I couldn't tell anyone when it went wrong and I ended up emotionally or physically hurt.”

    And I am even sorrier that you had such a bad experience. I have no idea how long ago it happened, but I do hope you are ok now. This is a huge part of the problem, not just information and resources up-front, but all along the way.

    Ferns

  9. @Anonymus: I see. Well, this indeed sounds discouraging. I've got no first hand experiences with the smjg, since when I found out about my own wiring, I wasn't a youngster anymore … far from it. But I enjoy reading their forum once in a while, and they seem quite relaxed and nevertheless very informative. But, other than you, I don't have any deeper insight. I just was glad to see that there obviously are opportunities also for minor BDSM people to talk, get their questions answered and possibly make contact to alike people.

    @Ferns: Since I'm not an active member of the smjg-forum, I've got no account there, but I'll try to post such a question.

  10. As a boy of 12, 13 years (Now more than 60 years ago) I had my own room in the attic. I often tied myself to my bed. Of course I had to be able to untie myself, which I regretted. I fantasized about being at the mercy of a lady. I didn't know anything about bdsm – it was many years later before I learned about it.

    When I in those days had met a dominant lady like you, I probably would have had another life.

    appy

  11. “what do we do with those kids who come looking for information about BDSM before they are of legal age? Do we practice the 'just say no' mantra with regard to information because they are 'too young'?”

    When a child has expressed an interest in BDSM, (or any other sexual topic for that matter) it is time for responsible adults to teach and guide this budding adult as to how to make good choices and be safe. Just saying no is not an option because left to their own devices, young people are liable to pick up the kind of misinformation that can ruin them for a lifetime.

    Contrary to what many believe, knowledge is not dangerous. A child must learn many things on the road to maturity and sexuality is an important part of that process.

  12. appy: “When I in those days had met a dominant lady like you, I probably would have had another life.”

    This makes me sad for the boy you were.

    Obviously there is a lot more information out there now, so in that sense it is magnitudes *better*, but that's only a part of it. Having peers and experienced people to talk to safely is a bigger gap, I think.

    Ferns

  13. “Contrary to what many believe, knowledge is not dangerous. A child must learn many things on the road to maturity and sexuality is an important part of that process.”

    Which is why, I think there should be an illustrated children's book called “Why Mommy Spanks Daddy.” Every other topic parents are too chicken to discuss with their kids gets a book, what about BSDM?

  14. As a parent, it's very difficult not to try to shelter your children from the fringes of society. But, as an open parent of an open-minded young lady, I know that if she'd ever come to me with questions, I would have done my best to answer them. Not play – I agree – we shouldn't be playing with the minors (sexually), but these kids need healthy information – and I guarantee you they aren't getting it on the internet.

    I totally agree with what Slapshot said – knowledge is not dangerous – jumping in blind to try the things a kid finds on the internet could definitely be. Where is the balance between what the BDSM community knows, and what society says is “acceptable” when kids have questions?

  15. Étienne: “One English site I've heard recommended is http://www.scarleteen.com/

    Great, thank you! I realised that this site was also mentioned in the responses to the original question on maymay's site, but it bears repeating.

    I did a quick search for 'BDSM' and it certainly has related topics both on the main site and in the forums.

    Ferns

  16. Although not BDSM related, why not have them, kids, talk with a pedo psychologist?

    In much of europe there's psychologist in every public school.

    JC

  17. I entertain very different responses to the question of how to help them depending on whether I consider online vs in person contact. Were you interested in both venues, Ferns?

    By the way, what became of your young protege? Did you simply provide a safe outlet for him? Was there much philosophizing between the two of you? If so, was there an important theme that recurred? Knowing might help inform conclusions about what would be helpful.

  18. Hi Ferns, Hannah here. (That 16 yo….)
    You said I could contact you, but I tried to email you, and it said something like “you don't have the mail server installed correctly.” I was wondering how I could contact you, then.

    Just to answer some questions.

    Thanks, I really appreciate it.

  19. I wanted to write the same thing as rené. The SMJG really helped me find out more about BDSM and myself. Sometimes you meet people there about 16 years old. There is an age limit for the meetings, so that teenagers won't feel uncomfortable. I wouldn't have dared to go to a meeting with “old people” when I first discovered my interests, but I took the step because I knew people there would be my age.

    I don't think one can say that it's okay to practice BDSM from 16 onward or something. Like sex, it depends on how far you are. I know a girl who started at 14. At that age, I didn't even think of sex yet.

  20. Ah yes, I identify with a bit of your personal history. About the only times I did play with Barbies they got up to the most interesting things…

    While I think Peroxide's idea of a children's picture book might be a LITTLE early for introducing the topic I do think it is closer to a healthy approach than what happens now.

    Scarlet Teen seems like a great resource.
    I personally think the appropriate age for allowing teens to engage in sexual conversations online (legally) should be whatever the age of consent is in their area. If the law recognizes their right to get it on, it should also recognize their right to do so with as much information as possible.

  21. “Peroxide's idea of a children's picture book might be a LITTLE early for introducing the topic?

    Seriously though, I do wish that the resources I had available to me at a young age had at least acknowledged activities outside the scope of vanilla sex.

  22. Hannah: “Hi Ferns, Hannah here. (That 16 yo….).”

    Hi Hannah, welcome!! (I realised I could have used your name here, that would have been much more civilised!).

    “You said I could contact you, but I tried to email you, and it said something like “you don't have the mail server installed correctly.”

    Really?! Gah! Stupid internet! Don't give up, I have given it a kick up the arse… please try again!

    Ferns

  23. slapshot: “When a child has expressed an interest in BDSM, (or any other sexual topic for that matter) it is time for responsible adults to teach and guide this budding adult as to how to make good choices and be safe.”

    I agree, and it sounds so easy, doesn't it? But who are these 'responsible adults' and where does this young person find them?

    Hannah has thrown her questions into the void of the internet and while she may find isolated pockets of hopefully useful information, what she needs is a supportive community of peers and trusted adults who she can relate to, who she can look at, interact with and go 'hey, they are just like me!'.

    The scarleteen website looks really promising; I am hoping there are more and similar out there.

    Ferns

  24. Peroxide: “Which is why, I think there should be an illustrated children's book called “Why Mommy Spanks Daddy.””

    *laugh* Yes! I am trying to imagine pitching this book to publishers.

    *cue burning torches and pitchforks as the villagers converge*

    Ferns

  25. The Blind (leading the naked): “But, as an open parent of an open-minded young lady, I know that if she'd ever come to me with questions, I would have done my best to answer them.”

    I think that's a big 'if' there, and I also think that you are in a huge minority here in that a) you know what BDSM is and are presumably involved in it in some way so are informed and willing to talk about it and b) you believe your child will come to you for this kind of information.

    Most parents fall into neither a) nor b), so this does leave their kids with the internet. Frankly, the first thing I would do (and did) as a kid is look for porn that matched what I felt, so we are already behind the 8 ball with what they are going to find. It would then take me a while to figure out that I felt 'other than' and would then seek resources that reassured me that I wasn't a freak.

    I am trying to imagine the horror and wrongness of a young boy finding that he gets turned on by girls in pain… While other permutations of BDSM participants might feel a 'wrongness', I cannot imagine the terror that a young boy might feel at finding THIS out about himself and thinking/knowing that there must be something very very wrong with him.

    Parental information and guidance can provide wonderful support if it's there, but I'd argue that mostly, it's not. I would have died rather than talk to my parents about my sexual feelings, especially 'deviant' ones that you assume would horrify them.

    “I guarantee you they aren't getting it on the internet.”

    I agree. In my search for actual information or forums for young people about BDSM, I got porn. That's it.

    “Where is the balance between what the BDSM community knows, and what society says is “acceptable” when kids have questions?”

    Honestly, I don't know. And equally honestly, if your child were to come to me, or some other older 'internet person' and want to talk, or get information, or support, I doubt that you would be thrilled about it, and in fact, in the case of your daughter, if I happened to be a male, it is likely you would be outraged and disgusted and completely suspicious of my motives.

    KinkForAll is a wonderful initiative in participatory discussions about sexuality for all ages, but it relies on proximity and access to the events.

    I very much appreciate your perspective as a parent on this, thank you.

    Ferns

  26. JC: “Although not BDSM related, why not have them, kids, talk with a pedo psychologist? In much of europe there's psychologist in every public school.”

    I think it's great that most European schools have a psychologist, though the obvious question is whether they would be supportive because they are BDSM friendly, or if they would decide that this is unhealthy and be looking for ways to steer them to more 'normal' activity.

    Even adults who are looking for counselling services of some kind need to specifically seek out BDSM-friendly ones for fear of being told that wanting to be tied up and humiliated is a sign of a serious psychological problem that needs to be addressed.

    I don't know how we investigate how effective those services are for young BDSMers, so I guess the best we can do is get anecdotes. If anyone reading has any experience with school psychologists or counsellors, I'd love to hear it.

    Ferns

  27. When I was 28, I played with a 17 year old. More specifically, I was visiting her mother, and her mother was teaching her how to domme.

    I'm sure this makes me an evil child molesting monster, although she mostly spanked me or put me in the corner or things like that, and I was always at least partly clothed in underwear while in her presence.

    I honestly think that sort of situation -having one or two trusted adults involved in a limited amount of safe talking and tutoring is best for a young woman or young man of 16 or older.

    But the world is currently gripped in pedo hysteria with not the slightest nuance at all, and so it goes.

    And as for that “Why mommy spanks daddy” book: I'd totally buy that.

    Clarence

  28. lthrpup: “I entertain very different responses to the question of how to help them depending on whether I consider online vs in person contact. Were you interested in both venues, Ferns?”

    I was thinking more about online resources due to accessibility, but all ideas are welcome. JC's school psychologist option may be a great one for many kids if they feel safe going there. So anything and everything is worth throwing out there.

    “By the way, what became of your young protege? Did you simply provide a safe outlet for him? Was there much philosophizing between the two of you? If so, was there an important theme that recurred? Knowing might help inform conclusions about what would be helpful.”

    There was no particular 'theme' as such, he had had these ideas in his head since he became sexually aware and he was doggedly determined to 'get out there' and there was no way for him to interact with other young people who felt the same as he did, not even online.

    It was pretty typical sub frenzy, with the complication of the legal aspects as well as the emotional aspects as he had a lack of experience in… well, everything. A potentially bad combination.

    Ferns

  29. N: “I wanted to write the same thing as rené. The SMJG really helped me find out more about BDSM and myself.”

    Thank you for sharing, N. I'm glad it was useful for you. Shame it's in German!

    Ferns

  30. Tom Allen: “Why can't we :like: or :upvote: these comments?”

    Because then nobody would make cute comments in response to other cute comments!

    Ferns

  31. dishevelleddomina: “About the only times I did play with Barbies they got up to the most interesting things…”

    I swear those Barbies had dirty minds! I'm sure it wasn't us at all!

    “Scarlet Teen seems like a great resource.”

    It does, yes! I haven't had a close look at it, but there were some 150 hits on 'BDSM' in the forums, so at the very least they are talking about it.

    “I personally think the appropriate age for allowing teens to engage in sexual conversations online (legally) should be whatever the age of consent is in their area. If the law recognizes their right to get it on, it should also recognize their right to do so with as much information as possible.”

    That sounds perfectly logical, but in reality, the laws are arbitrary, so it doesn't make practical sense to me. The age of consent is 18 in California (it varies by state in the US), 13 in Spain, 14/16 for m/f in Germany… etc.

    Young people start asking questions when they get curious or worried or active or anxious or otherwise motivated by some pressing need, and that happens at various ages, and it seems to me that if they are asking the questions, they are ready to have the appropriate information.

    All that sounds lovely, but there is a huge grey area there, hence my post. If a precocious 12yo asks me about fisting, you can bet your arse I'm not going to jump in with a big book of 'how to' information. But also shutting them down with 'you are wrong for asking about that' is not a great strategy either.

    Ferns

  32. Peroxide: “Seriously though, I do wish that the resources I had available to me at a young age had at least acknowledged activities outside the scope of vanilla sex.”

    And seriously though, so do I!

    Ferns

  33. As far as I can tell, I found all age events repelling, especially munches (no offense maymay).

    There is no such answer which age is right or wrong.

    Simply support young folks approaching you with as much pointers to information as possible, let them have it.

    There is no way in stopping them oder disclose information for them, they will sooner or later find out for themself, no matter what age they are.

  34. “I used this source: …”

    I see. Well, it's written there in a way that is easily misunderstandable. Next to the word “Germany” there is a number “7”, which refers to the annotation:

    “In Germany, sexual intercourse is legal from the age of 14 in most cases. An exception is when the older partner is aged over 18 and is “exploiting a coercive situation”, where compensation is offered, in return for sex, in which case the younger person must be aged over 18 years. In addition, it is illegal for someone aged over 21 to have sex with someone under 16 if they “exploit the victim's lack of capacity for sexual self-determination”.

    So, the two ages (14/16) don't refer to the two genders, but to the two different cases explained in the annotation. Any gender discrepancy in a law would violate the Grundgesetz (the German constitution). That's why I was puzzled about the “m/f 14/16”.

    rené

  35. Ferns

    Two or three centuries ago male homosexuality and its fisical act, sodomy, were considered demonic and ended with death by hanging must of the time.

    Centuries lates things changed and science played what I would consider a substancial part, especially psychology.

    Perhaps its just me, (I came from a archaelogical back ground), but I beleave science can and should be the best way to accommodate, explain and contextualise strange humam thoughts and behaviors.

    As for the realities, I agree, somehow reality is always short of utopia.

    JC

  36. Heh.
    America is really strange.
    If I went to Germany and had consensual sex with someone of 16 it would be legal, even though I am 40. If I paid someone of age 17 and 3/4 to have sex with it would be illegal in Germany. But the American government has a law whereby if you have sex with anyone under 18 (this law doesn't apply to the states, our states tend to have ranges from 16 to 18, but it DOES apply to foreign travel)it is a felony even if it is legal in that part of the world.
    Here's a list of age of consent laws in the United States and the rest of the world:

    http://www.ageofconsent.com/ageofconsent.htm

    Here's a site that shows just how messed up the teen sex laws are:

    http://human-stupidity.com/stupid-dogma/teenage-sexuality/consult-a-lawyer-before-playing-doctor-perverse-sex-laws-traumatize-children

    Yes, as can be shown easily by a web search, teens are sometimes arrested for “sexting” in the USA, at least. As the above link shows there's all sorts of legal consequences for teens and children caused by the very laws supposedly protecting them. “Child pornography” in the US has been so over-defined that fictional representations of children are punished the same as real depictions. Here's an example:
    http://io9.com/5272107/manga-collection-ruled-child-pornography-by-us-court. He also makes a good point in some of his linked to posts that while it is illegal in the US to see a naked picture of a 16 year old, it's perfectly legal for one to watch video of one being stoned to death. We have more fear of sex than violence, it would seem.

    Now there ARE perfectly good reasons for some age of consent laws and some anti-child porn laws (if imho “child porn” does not include mere nudity or any type of fictitious drawings, paintings, or other images of that type)but I'd reform the current laws in the US in three ways:

    A. A single age of consent among states.
    B. Reduced penalties -in some cases vastly reduced- for having consensual sex with those near the age of consent. Also, I don't know about Australia or Germany or other countries but in America age of consent is a “strict liability” crime. There are guys that went to jail for having sex with girls who were in areas (bars, nightclubs) they weren't supposed to be and in some cases the girls looked older and had fake ID. Punishing people for crimes they don't even know they are committing is wrong and I would stop it.
    C. People 16 and under would only be prosecuted or treated for non-consensual sex acts and nothing else, period. Prosecuting teens for “sexting” is ridiculous.

    Sorry Ferns, this made me think in part because I'd already run into some of the issues involved (censorship, sexting, and “strict liability” crap) so I went and did some research. I hope even those who might disagree with me find it useful.

    Clarence

  37. P.S.
    For those who don't know, the links are inactive. To get them to work, cut and paste starting from the “http” part into your browser window.

    Clarence

  38. Anonymous: “As far as I can tell, I found all age events repelling, especially munches (no offense maymay).”

    I'm sure maymay will not take offence, but just as a clarification, KinkForAll is an informational (un)conference about sexuality, not a BDSM meet n greet.

    I have never actually heard of an all ages munch anywhere apart from the one related to SMJG mentioned above. Are you able to share where the munch was and who ran it? Even if you didn't like it, perhaps it is a useful pointer to other 'all ages' resources for others.

    “There is no such answer which age is right or wrong. Simply support young folks approaching you with as much pointers to information as possible, let them have it.”

    I agree with the 'no right or wrong', I think it's unanswerable (yay me for asking an unanswerable question… that means I win the internets, right?!).

    I think there is an issue, though, with pointing 'young people' to unfiltered information intended for adults because the information assumes that those reading have a basic set of knowledge and experience and this additional information sits on top of it. The level, depth and method that I would use to share information with a 30yo differs from the way I would share it with a 16yo.

    “There is no way in stopping them oder disclose information for them, they will sooner or later find out for themself, no matter what age they are.”

    This. Exactly. They WILL find *something*, regardless of what we do, and if we can provide information safely and with some intelligence, then I think we have helped.

    While one-on-one is great, I'd still love to hear from anyone who is aware of any great resources out there, even if they aren't 'official'.

    Hannah mentioned to me that she had found a website that had a BDSM 'newbie starter pack', which is a GREAT idea. I had a quick look and I was not enamoured of the content (too full of absolutes for my liking and with a M/f bent, of course, and aimed at adults), but I love the idea.

    Goodness knows there is enough information out there, and in many cases the pure volume of it is part of the problem and none of it is focussed on young people (for the very reasons we are discussing here). Perhaps there is a worthwhile project in here.

    Ferns

  39. JC: “Perhaps its just me, (I came from a archaelogical back ground), but I beleave science can and should be the best way to accommodate, explain and contextualise strange humam thoughts and behaviors.”

    I'm not sure I am clear on what you are saying here in terms of a solution. Do you mind clarifying?

    “As for the realities, I agree, somehow reality is always short of utopia.”

    Always, yes.

    Ferns

  40. Clarence: “When I was 28, I played with a 17 year old. More specifically, I was visiting her mother, and her mother was teaching her how to domme. I'm sure this makes me an evil child molesting monster…”

    See this makes me deeply uncomfortable because there are umpteen million ways to see this as pure exploitation and it raises a lot of questions about how this situation came about (not just your involvement, but the mother's, and her family situation in general etc). I am not asking for more information, just acknowledging that fear, and it's exactly this fear that causes people to recoil from wanting to do anything but lock kids away from any hint of freedom in exploring their sexuality.

    While acknowleging my discomfort, I am *very well aware* that it is not so very different from my story above about the 17yo that I took under my wing, and I am even more aware that I would have been MUCH MORE CAUTIOUS (and I was already *very* cautious) about sharing it had I been a man.

    “As the above link shows there's all sorts of legal consequences for teens and children caused by the very laws supposedly protecting them.”

    Agreed, the laws, especially in some places, are not always designed or executed in a way that makes sense.

    Have a look at the fascinating presentation maymay mentioned above on Sexual Adultism (note that it *looks* terribly long, but each page only has about a sentence of text, it is beautifully done). Among other salient points, he mentions a case in the US where two thirteen year olds were convicted of sexually molesting *each other*. They are now on the 'registered sex offender' list and you know that's going to follow them for the rest of their lives.

    This is such a touchy subject and I appreciate the intelligent discussion so far.

    Ferns

  41. I was trying to convey that in sexuality and life youngsters are still…well young and in my mind I would still consider a professional of the workings of the brain and its expressed behaviors a more garanteed bet as for a solution.

    Even taking into account that for some or many psychology professionals BSDM is still in the margins, who better understands humam behavior and can listen when we are kind of lost.

    I'm probably pointing out psychology because of a strange thing that happened to me when I was a kid, it was stupid in the end but…my maths teacher insisted that I talk with the schools psychologist just because I had bad grades.

    To me at age 15 it felt strange or stupid that for such a insignificant problem, in my mind, I had to talk with some one that would enter my mind and it made me think, think of care that the teacher showed, think that perhaps it was really serious and I needed the atention of a professional. In the end it didn't help, I still hate mathematics.

    JC

  42. Ferns:

    I'm not personally concerned about the age difference. Plenty of people 17 and 28 have been married, raised kids, lived happily. It doesn't always work, of course, but unlike if the girl was 7, or even 13 or 14, it doesn't give me hives.

    The circumstances were these:
    I was going to visit her mother. I hardly knew the daughter, and had never talked to her. The mother still had her husband and we were all friends. The daughter had a boyfriend and wanted to learn to domme him. It was maybe 2 incidences, not some continuous thing for a week. They were a nice family. I know you were probably thinking of some of those disgusting cases you read about on the web or see on the news where (usually its a guy)convinces a mom or other woman (or rarely a man) to do something sexual involving children.

    Maybe something like this:

    http://privateinvesigations.blogspot.com/2011/05/robin-pagoria-florida-sheriffs-deputy.html

    Warning, disturbing content.

    In reality the idea of playing with the daughter never entered my mind on the way there, in part because I never thought of her daughter because I'd never talked to the daughter. So it was a bit of a surprise to tell you the truth.

    Now had there been sex involved or I felt the mother was forcing the daughter into it, things would have been different. I also don't think the father would have been ok with it. I never thought to ask his thoughts there but I suppose since my clothes always stayed on with both his wife and daughter (they went to many play parties and had a bit of an open relationship anyway)he was ok with it.

    Looking back at it now, the situation was very volatile, but I was young, dumb and totally socially clueless and except for two Doms and one friend I'd never particpated in any play before that time. Too shy you know.

    Clarence

  43. we take a more sympathetic approach to kids (usually runaways) who may be sexually active. We offer them free counseling and advise them about STI/STD's and other diseases, as well as treat them as much as we can. There's always a bowl of free condoms in the waiting room. This is NOT the norm for most US cities, however.

  44. Miss Ferns,

    (Lord, I see big things have been happening here! Well done for bringing up this subject.)

    “This. Exactly. They WILL find *something*, regardless of what we do, and if we can provide information safely and with some intelligence, then I think we have helped.”

    Absolutely: and what they will be mostly inside themselves: fantasy lives that grow and grow, while never being tempered by anything more real than porn. And they will have loneliness at best, fear at worst. For a period of my life (something like eleven to fourteen)I thought I was going to grow up to become a gay, paedophiliac, submissive male. It was a *very* lonely period in my life . . . .

    I'm not hopeful about this issue regarding 'under-age' children – not in the present climate, anyway. If I had children of my own, I'd want them *at the very least* to be able to access a website that would enable them both to be advised by responsible adults, and to be able to talk to like-minded peers. But even that is far more than I can imagine happening in most first world countries; such is the prevalent attitude surrounding all matters regarding children and sex.

    Sir Puppington Lothian.

  45. Clarence: “Looking back at it now, the situation was very volatile, but I was young, dumb and totally socially clueless…”

    Thanks for the clarification, and yes, it can bring up all sorts of images, and that is exactly where the fear lies for most people.

    I was also naive in my dealings with the 17yo I mentioned, so I do understand.

    Finding a way to responsibly and safely and appropriately provide information is the tricky part.

    Ferns

  46. JC: “I was trying to convey that in sexuality and life youngsters are still…well young and in my mind I would still consider a professional of the workings of the brain and its expressed behaviors a more garanteed bet as for a solution.”

    Ok, I understand, and yes, having access to professionals would be fine, but I don't think it's *necessary* to help kids learn and find a way to be ok with themselves.

    It sucks that you still didn't like maths after that though *laugh*

    Ferns

  47. puppy: “For a period of my life (something like eleven to fourteen)I thought I was going to grow up to become a gay, paedophiliac, submissive male. It was a *very* lonely period in my life . . . .”

    *nod* And I think that's the crux of it… Hannah described it very well as not just feeling alone, but feeling 'wrong'. That shit can get so bad it can make kids want to kill themselves.

    “If I had children of my own, I'd want them *at the very least* to be able to access a website that would enable them both to be advised by responsible adults, and to be able to talk to like-minded peers.”

    It's a tricky thing, yes. Scarleteen is aimed specifically at 15-25s, so that's a great resource. I sent them a note to ask if they had an 'information pack' on BDSM. The site is somewhat scattered and while I found topics on BDSM, and the forum is a possibility for peer interaction, it would be great if they had an appropriate newbie set of information.

    Ferns

  48. Miss Ferns,

    “The site is somewhat scattered and while I found topics on BDSM, and the forum is a possibility for peer interaction, it would be great if they had an appropriate newbie set of information.”

    Actually, I think that's an excellent idea. It might even be possible to get a bunch of experienced BDSMers to put something like that together, tailored especially for a teenage readership. A tightrope walk, no doubt – suspicions from all sides – but I think it could be done.

    Sir PL.

  49. dave94: “we take a more sympathetic approach to kids (usually runaways) who may be sexually active. We offer them free counseling and advise them about STI/STD's and other diseases, as well as treat them as much as we can.”

    Yes, once kids are 'at risk', I think they get access to much more resources than otherwise.

    I also think there is a reasonable amount of information and support for kids regarding heteronormative sexuality in general, and actually quite a bit now for gay and lesbian kids, but it has taken a long time for that to come about.

    BDSM, though, is waaaay out in left field.

    Ferns

  50. “I look back with hindsight, and I think I was naive in a lot of ways, and would probably handle it differently now, but at the time, my primary concern was that if it wasn’t me who took him under my wing, it would be someone else who perhaps would not have his best interests at heart.”

    Hindsight is always 20/20. You did what you thought was best at the time with the information available to you and you kept this boy as safe as you possibly could… and I applaud you for that.

    1. Thanks, and you are right: I did what I thought was best at the time.

      In hindsight, though, I should NEVER have taken him out into the community, I should have just spent some time with him one-on-one so he had someone to talk to, and to give him some education. Ahhh… hindsight…

      I actually ran into him some years later wandering around town. He was all grown up. We said friendly hellos, but were in vanilla company, so didn’t really get to talk.

      Ferns

  51. Im 14 and have read all I can find about being a submissive on line, its not a matter of right or wrong, its some thing in you. wanting to find out more is not wrong, but there is no where to go.

    1. Hello leona, I hear you and I really wish I had some resources I could point you to that was geared towards young people.

      All I can do is tell you is that you aren’t alone, and there is nothing wrong with you. Please remember that things you read on the internet often can’t be trusted, so please be selective in how you go about filtering the information that you find.

      And I know it’s not useful to tell you to be patient, but please try. You’ll have plenty of time to explore. And please stay safe. There are a lot of creeps out there.

      Ferns

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