Creative Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: Challenges and Dilemmas

Creative Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: Challenges and Dilemmas

Creative Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: Challenges and Dilemmas

Creative Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: Challenges and Dilemmas

Synopsis

Despite heightened media attention and the increase in professional knowledge about child abuse, many children are still being failed by the system. This book addresses in depth the acute practice dilemmas concerning children who, despite the climate of increased awareness, multi-disciplinary cooperation and legislative and procedural change, cannot easily be protected. Drawing on lessons from the major inquiries into child sexual abuse in the 1990s and using attachment theory as a theoretical framework, the contributors (who include mothers and survivors as well as a range of professionals) give guidelines for working with the children - in particular those who, unable to disclose their experience themselves, are the most difficult to support.

Excerpt

The challenge is to be able to honour the past and to embrace the future
without doing an injustice to either. (Walrond-Skinner 2000, p.2)

This book explores some of the journeys travelled by sexually abused children, adult survivors, protective parents, professionals and the wider community in the post-Cleveland era. The 1987 Cleveland child abuse crisis was part of a paradigm shift in the societal recognition of child sexual abuse, initiated more than a decade earlier by women survivors and feminists. The report of the Cleveland inquiry (Butler-Sloss 1988) opened its conclusions by saying:

We have learned during the Inquiry that sexual abuse occurs in children of
all ages, including the very young, to boys as well as girls, in all classes of
society and frequently within the privacy of the family. The abuse can be
very serious and on occasions includes vaginal, anal and oral intercourse.
(Butler-Sloss 1988, p.243)

At the same time, the traumatic impact of this recognition led to the fragmentation of the child protection system and to the loss of a coherent narrative of the events in Cleveland. Forms of resistance to the new paradigm included the scapegoating of professionals (Richardson 1993b) and allegations of false memory (for a discussion of the latter, see Mollon 1998; Sinason 1998).

Two competing versions of reality have since developed. The first version emphasises family support, suggesting that conflicts of interest between adults and children can be resolved. It has became embodied in post-Cleveland legislation and procedures directed at children where the abuse has already come to light because the child has made a disclosure. The second version holds that the majority of sexually abused children are trapped . . .

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