Incest as Child Abuse: Research and Applications

Incest as Child Abuse: Research and Applications

Incest as Child Abuse: Research and Applications

Incest as Child Abuse: Research and Applications

Synopsis

This book approaches as a serious and severe form of child abuse. While early research tended to portray victims as seductive provocateers, recent studies indicate that birth order, family configuration factors, personality, physical and socio-economic factors may predispose children to risk of incestuous victimization. Incest is associated with anti-social, deviant, illegal and/or self-destructive coping mechanisms in many victims.

Excerpt

This book is a major contribution to the understanding of contemporary American family life. Vander Mey and Neff bring before us the horrors and traumas of adult-child incest and sexual abuse. Conceptualizing incest as a form of child abuse, they, with their coauthor Kinly Sturkie, meticulously review the extensive literature in this area, offering, in the process, an incisive analysis and critique of existing theories of incest. They also present the results of two statewide samples of adult-child incest cases. Written in clear, easily readable prose, their monograph offers seriously thought-out proposals concerning practice guidelines for treatment and intervention in incestuous families. Their own theoretical model carefully weaves its way through psychological, sociological, ecological, anthropological, phenomenological, psychiatric, social psychological, and interactionist formulations of the incest phenomenon. Conceptualizing incest as a multiladden process, they identify the societal, neighborhood, and family interaction patterns and the power structures in the father- daughter dyad that are most likely to produce incest. The conflict, exchange, resource, and phenomenological theory which they offer is grounded in their empirical studies of the phenomenon. Hence it moves our understanding far beyond previous formulations, which were based on empirically narrow exchange, feminist, and/or psychoanalytic readings of incest.

The sexual abuse of children, which includes incest, child pornography, sexual molestation, rape, and prostitution, is as old as civilization. Both the Bible and the Talmud encouraged sex between men and very little girls in marriage, concubinage, and slavery. Yet social science studies of child sexual abuse only began to appear within the last decade. Social scientists have apparently labored under the belief that incest taboo in fact works. Formulations of such scholars as Seligman, Levi-Strauss, Malinowski, Freud, Fox, Ellis, Parsons and Bales, and van den Berghe all contend that the family group produces barriers to incest. Not to do so would open the door for the self-destruction of the family group.

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