We Believe the Children

We Believe the Children

A Moral Panic in the 1980s

Book - 2015 | First edition.
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A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2015
A Boston Globe Best Book of 2015

A brilliant, disturbing portrait of the dawn of the culture wars, when America started to tear itself apart with doubts, wild allegations, and an unfounded fear for the safety of children.

During the 1980s in California, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Massachusetts, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Ohio, and elsewhere, day care workers were arrested, charged, tried, and convicted of committing horrible sexual crimes against the children they cared for. These crimes, social workers and prosecutors said, had gone undetected for years, and they consisted of a brutality and sadism that defied all imagining. The dangers of babysitting services and day care centers became a national newsmedia fixation. Of the many hundreds of people who were investigated in connection with day care and ritual abuse cases around the country, some 190 were formally charged with crimes, leading to more than 80 convictions.

It would take years for people to realize what the defendants had said all along--that these prosecutions were the product of a decade-long outbreak of collective hysteria on par with the Salem witch trials. Social workers and detectives employed coercive interviewing techniques that led children to tell them what they wanted to hear. Local and national journalists fanned the flames by promoting the stories' salacious aspects, while aggressive prosecutors sought to make their careersby unearthing an unspeakable evil where parents feared it most.

Using extensive archival research and drawing on dozens of interviews conducted with the hysteria's major figures, n+1 editor Richard Beck shows how a group of legislators, doctors, lawyers, and parents--most working with the best of intentions--set the stage for a cultural disaster. The climate of fear that surrounded these cases influenced a whole series of arguments about women, children, and sex. It also drove a right-wing cultural resurgence that, in many respects, continuesto this day.
Publisher: New York : PublicAffairs, [2015]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9781610392877
1610392876
Branch Call Number: 362.76097 BEC
Characteristics: xxv, 323 pages

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StarGladiator
Aug 08, 2015

A most thoughtful and chilling book, sure to anger those not familiar with this story [or stories]. There appears to be either a subset, or superset, of psychologists or psychology workers who were involved in pseudo-molestation in the 1980s, management techniques in the 1990s, and during the last decade or so, with torture interrogation techniques!

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