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NCJ Number: 149997 Find in a Library
Title: Professional Controversies in Child Sexual Abuse Assessment
Journal: Journal of Psychiatry and Law  Volume:20  Issue:1  Dated:(Spring 1992)  Pages:49-84
Author(s): M S Milchman
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 36
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper examines controversies between the child- protective and defense-protective positions in the field of child sexual abuse assessments.
Abstract: The need for collaboration between members of the legal system and mental health professionals in the validation of child sexual abuse allegations has removed this task from the neutrality of the scientific setting and situated it within the adversarial proceedings of the legal system. Consequently, the field has become polarized. Two camps have emerged: child protectors and defense protectors. Each identifies itself with lofty social values and by implication disparages the values of the other camp. Child protectors and defense protectors have formed public organizations to promote their respective causes: protection of children's safety versus protection of the accused's civil liberties. The child-protective position begins with an a priori belief in the validity of children's sexual abuse allegations. Accordingly, it tends to discount the possible influence of mental processes that produce distortions in children's thinking. On the other hand, the defense-protective position tends to emphasize mental processes that produce distortions in children's perception and report of events. Inconsistencies in the reasoning of both camps take many forms. Relevant data may go uncollected or be ignored or misinterpreted. Conclusions may be drawn with insufficient data to support them. Tautological conclusions may be drawn. Stereotypes may be substituted for responsible analysis: the "innocent child," the "suggestible child," the "vindictive ex-wife," the "pillar of the community." This article provides examples of each type of inconsistency. 98 notes
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Child protection services; Child Sexual Abuse; Child victims; Defense preparation
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