Child Abuse

/Tag:Child Abuse

Child abuse is a real and serious problem. The first people we should listen to are the victims. The last people we should listen to are the moral conservatives.

Internet Grooming And Unintended Moral Hazard

The problem with all moral debates is that they are usually generated by moral panic. In her book 'Child Pornography and Sexual Grooming' Suzanne Ost argues that policy on these issues had largely been driven by moral panic which exaggerates the extent of the problem and often demands a quick, simplistic solution. The media cynically whips up the panic to satisfy the public's prurient interest and sell newspapers and politicians act simply to appease public perceptions. Ost argues that this creates the moral hazard of bad policy and she cites the moral panic over internet grooming as a prime example. [...]

Grooming, Seduction And Teens Falling In Love

I'm currently reading Child Pornography and Sexual Grooming by Suzanne Ost, professor of law at Lancaster University. It's a serious book that examines the history of legislation and case law. Whilst I was initially encouraged by the blurb below, I now have serious reservations about Ost's analysis. There are some important factors she simply fails to address. ...exploring the critical tensions within legal and social discourses which must be tackled to discourage moral panic reactions towards child pornography and grooming, and advocating a new, more rational approach towards combating these forms of exploitation. Despite these reservations (which I will explain [...]

Sexualisation And Sexual Abuse

It has been a week when child sexual abuse has again featured in the news. There have been three stories. The case of newly released sex offender caught phoning children; the scandal surrounding Sir Jimmy Savile; and the continuing saga of child abuse in the Catholic Church. I've chosen to comment on these stories because they disprove the narrative of the moral conservatives. That narrative argues that men are inspired to sexually abuse children because sexualisation somehow gives them permission to see children as sexually available. This assumes that there is a way children can act to send a signal [...]

Has Trauma Been Normalised?

Couple of interesting links through FB this week; highly topical. The first is to a Time article about the effects of childhood trauma on brain development. How Child Abuse Primes the Brain for Future Mental Illness. The aftermath of that trauma could be seen in their brain scans, whether or not the young adults had developed diagnosable disorders. Regardless of their mental health status, formerly maltreated youth showed reductions in volume of about 6% on average in two parts of the hippocampus, and 4% reductions in regions called the subiculum and presubiculum, compared with people who had not been abused. [...]

Response To A Deluded Paedophile.

Within the last week I've had two quite opposite comments from readers of this blog. One accused me of being a paedophile and suggested I might burn in hell (deleted) and the other accused me of discriminating against paedophiles. Despite writing about some sensitive subjects such as sexualisation and paedophilia, I have had surprisingly few aggressive comments. Most comments have been polite and on-topic. However in the last few days a character calling himself 'Maped' blitzed my in-box with around 9 emails, all saying much the same thing. I've decided to publish just the one because it's a good example [...]

Sexual Shame

Discovering Susan Ullman's work locks in an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle (see Sex negative, sex positive: sex addiction). There are more pieces to be put in place of course, but at least we can begin to see the larger picture. I've mentioned two other important pieces before; the work of Robert Sapolsky and David Finklehor. The pattern that is emerging is that shame is a major factor in creating a neurotic 'stress' complex. This leads to the obvious conclusion that in order to prevent these stress complexes from arising we need to minimise shame. But this research is [...]

A New Understanding Of Child Abuse

Whilst I was thinking about doing this post an independent investigation (chaired by Wim Deetman) released its report on abuse within the Dutch Catholic Church. The report estimated that between 10,000 to 20,000 children had been sexually abused between 1945 and the present. The abuse rate was calculated to be twice that of the normal population. We can describe the reaction to child abuse as belonging to three distinct phases. 1. The phase of systemic abuse and denial. Prior to the 1970's child abuse was kept quiet. The taboo over discussing sexual matters meant that children did not reveal sexual [...]

Two Views Of Disciplining Children

These links came from some of my FB contacts. They represent two entirely opposing views of disciplining children, both at the extremes. The first is an article from The Guardian celebrating 90 years of the experimental school Summerhill and here (founded by AS Neill) which pioneered children's rights. I remember Angus Dudgeon, who arrived just into his teens after being kicked out of Harrow. Gobsmacked by the freedom, he ran around screaming, talking "inappropriately" to the girls and finally breaking 23 windows over two days. As he lifted a stone to break another, Neill, spotting him, picked up one himself [...]

The Childhood Culture Wars: Religious Abuse

In the previous post I mentioned the problem of moral abuse. Often the people most concerned about sexual abuse are moral conservatives and the religious. To them it is evidence of the lax moral values of a secular society. This is nonsense. The recent revelations of abuse within the Catholic Church and church-run institutions clearly indicates that moral authoritarians are more likely to abuse. Let me explain. We must be careful not to compare apples to oranges. Most abuse happens within the family. I am not aware of any evidence to suggest that religious families are more prone to sexual [...]

Child Abuse In The Jewish Community Of Melbourne

This is hardly surprising. It fits the pattern. This time its not Catholic schools but orthodox Jewish schools. The first involves a former teacher at Yeshiva College accused of molesting boys and the second involves the former principal of the Adass Israel Girl's School accused of molesting girls. In both cases the victims felt compelled to keep the abuse secret for for fear of upsetting the system and when the authorities found out, they kept quiet and allowed the perpetrators to escape justice. A familiar tale; this time compounded by the orthodox prohibition of mesirah - which forbids a Jew [...]