Streams

Are Child Sexual Abuse Cases More Common Than We Think?

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

In the early 1990s, a new narrative emerged that child sex abuse cases were part of a “moral panic” that produced a witch hunt, and the children who testified were not reliable and easily swayed by prosecutors. But Ross Cheit reveals that the issue had not been blown out of proportion at all. His book The Witch Hunt Narrative, shows that child sex abuse convictions were regular occurrences and that the crime occurred far more frequently than many believed. 

Guests:

Ross Cheit

Comments [22]

Jim D'Entremont from Roxbury MA

Ross Cheit is a fringe operator trying to resurrect a dead issue. All of his claims have been thoroughly discredited. The book is academic fraud. It appears to be scholarly, but he cherry picks his facts ignoring the inconvenient ones, and distorts others. Some of his "facts" -- e.g. the claim that Joseph Allen has a skin condition that he doesn't have and has never had -- are demonstrably false. For a critique of the book, see http://www.ncrj.org/resources-2/response-to-ross-cheit/.

For an accurate depiction of the sex panic of the 80'2 and early 90's (still ongoing today) I recommend Satan's Silence by Nathan and Snedeker.
Ross Cheit is a fringe operator trying to resurrect a dead issue. All of his claims have been thoroughly discredited. The book is academic fraud. It appears to be scholarly, but he cherry picks his facts ignoring the inconvenient ones, and distorts others. Some of his "facts" -- e.g. the claim that Joseph Allen has a skin condition that he doesn't have and has never had -- are demonstrably false. For a critique of the book, see http://www.ncrj.org/resources-2/response-to-ross-cheit/.

For an accurate depiction of the sex panic of the 80'2 and early 90's (still ongoing today) I recommend Satan's Silence by Nathan and Snedeker.

http://www.amazon.com/Satans-Silence-Ritual-Making-American/dp/0465071805/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405777291&sr=1-1&keywords=satans+silence

Jul. 19 2014 09:42 AM
Dissident from The New, Virtual Gulag

Another perspective on the relevant crisis within the Roman Catholic Church and related issues:
http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/clo/clo_09homosexuality.html

One need not accept the author's conclusions regarding the role of the Church in order to appreciate that the other arguments he makes --backed by sourced evidence-- are at least worthy of serious consideration and discussion. Alas, that may no longer be possible, at least not in the public square. For we are currently in the throes of a new McCarthyism, no less virulent, oppressive or stifling than the original one. (And one hardly need look very far to see evidence of it...)

Jul. 09 2014 07:50 PM
Susan from WA

Cheit handled Lopate's question about his childhood with grace. Would Lopate ask the same bias-implying question of a Latina PhD researcher whose parents were immigrants and who writes about immigrants?
I commend Mr. Lopate for not taking up air time recounting the story of that anonymous friend/relative everyone seems to know, the guy who was falsely accused. The guy who says he's innocent, and we believe him, because he's just not the kind of guy who would do something like that to a child.

Jul. 09 2014 01:49 PM
Portia from Austin, TX

The so-called rebuttal seems to be long on rhetoric and short on details. I see that the author of the Witch-Hunt Narrative answers their points (in a more measured manner than they use) here: http://blogs.brown.edu/rcheit/response-to-critics/

Jul. 08 2014 08:51 PM
BrianBruise from Vancouver, BC

Read this rebuttal of Cheit's claims.

http://www.ncrj.org/resources-2/response-to-ross-cheit/the-witch-hunt-narrative-rebuttal/

Jul. 08 2014 08:36 PM
Keira from Manhattan

It was a very interesting segment and the interview was for the most part very thoughtful, though the manner in which Mr. Lopate addressed the author's personal sexual abuse history was abrupt and bordering on confrontational and to what end I could not ascertain. It was in someways the most shocking part of the interview. Mr. Cheit handled it extremely well and I applaud him for shedding more light on a still very dark corner of human affairs.

Jul. 08 2014 07:40 PM
Dissident from Outside the Herd

"If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all." - Noam Chomsky

(If_we_dont_believe_in_freedom_of_expression. Dictionary.com. Columbia World of Quotations. Columbia University Press, 1996. http://quotes.dictionary.com/If_we_dont_believe_in_freedom_of_expression (accessed: July 08, 2014).)

Jul. 08 2014 05:14 PM
concrndatty from Atlanta, GA

Maybe if people would read the book before posting dumb comments, the commentary would be more intelligent.

Jul. 08 2014 05:00 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Ed

I'm Jewish so I don't care one way or the other, but do you believe 400 priests were really involved in "abusing" children? I'm clearly not Catholic but I find that very hard to believe. But in this hysteria, innocent heads have to roll I guess.

Jul. 08 2014 02:11 PM
Ed from Larchmont

The Catholic Church's new system of prevention resulted in only 6 credible charges last year, it's a model for other institutions. Pope Benedict de-frocked 400 priests in his last year as pope, on that case.

Jul. 08 2014 02:06 PM
Ed from Larchmont

I won't mention abortion ...

Jul. 08 2014 01:59 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

What did the guy do? Did he fondle him, perform sodomy or penetrate him? What did the "abuser" do exactly? Why in this day and age when penis and vagina are now used on TV every night, why can't the accusers say PRECISELY what the alleged abuser did exactly? Nobody is embarrassed anymore. There is no such thing as shame anymore. So why not be explicit?

Jul. 08 2014 01:59 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

What did the guy do? Did he fondle him, perform sodomy or penetrate him? What did the "abuser" do exactly? Why in this day and age when penis and vagina are now used on TV every night, why can't the accusers say PRECISELY what the alleged abuser did exactly? Nobody is embarrassed anymore. There is no such thing as shame anymore. So why not be explicit?

Jul. 08 2014 01:58 PM
Ed from Larchmont

Our society has become sex-mad, this is part of the uglier side of the phenomenon.

Jul. 08 2014 01:57 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Boy, the media stirs up so much hysteria it is unbelievable. I'm so happy the media wasn't quite this crazy yet back in the 1950s. Reality growing up in the housing projects was scary enough, but if the media then was scaring everyone like this my parents might have upped and taken me back to a DP camp in Germany for safety.

Jul. 08 2014 01:55 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Boy, the media stirs up so much hysteria it is unbelievable. I'm so happy the media wasn't quite this crazy yet back in the 1950s. Reality growing up in the housing projects was scary enough, but if the media then was scaring everyone like this my parents might have upped and taken me back to a DP camp in Germany for safety.

Jul. 08 2014 01:53 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I remember reading at the time about children being coached & even browbeaten into testifying to things that didn't happen, & even some things that couldn't happen (in the sense of being physically impossible). Did Mr. Cheit find that these stories were exaggerated, or not true?

And does a child sometimes find it safer to accuse someone outside the family of sexual abuse rather than a family member who actually did it?

Jul. 08 2014 01:50 PM
Ed from Larchmont

The sexual abuse crisis has, of course, been a disaster for the Church, though the Church has responded with a very good and effective system to work against it. But one thing is for sure: it didn't only happen in the Church, but only the Church makes the news.

Jul. 08 2014 01:38 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Tony

Evolution apparently does have 2 goals: survival of the life form and to reproduce. I don't see where abuse or incest with one's own child fits into that equation. Granted it does occasionally happen, as does homosexuality and left-handedness, but those are deviations from the norm. There are variations in nature and those variations and mutations that are successful continue on for a long time.

Jul. 08 2014 01:38 PM
Tony from Canarsie

jgarbuz from Queens -- You're assuming that evolution has a goal, which it doesn't.

Jul. 08 2014 01:23 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

I find it hard to believe that evolution would have allowed humans parents to be child abusers. I don't see the evolutionary gain in that kind of behavior. Of course the term "abuse" is so generic, non-specific and purposely not well-defined so that social workers can use it for their own professional agendas, which like with prosecutors are often advanced by their "showing" how they have "saved" children from perfidy and usually point their accusing fingers at fathers. It is often a conspiratorial ploy to get fathers out of the way. Very little if any evidence is required to do so, and the social service agencies get more political power in the process.

Jul. 08 2014 12:18 PM
mike tikkanen from minnesota

About half of the fifty children I worked with as a volunteer guardian ad-Litem had been sexually abused-one two year old, two four year old's (one of whom had been prostituted)and all the rest under ten when the abuse began.

www.invisiblechildren.org

Jul. 08 2014 09:24 AM

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