Why do men abuse children sexually?
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The recent moral panic about child sexual abuse has been treated as though it were something unique to the 1980s and 1990s. Historical evidence shows clearly that child abuse — physical, emotional, and sexual — has been endemic to western culture for centuries. The scale and nature of child abuse has undoubtedly varied and changed, but it is certainly not something new. What has happened is that a long-existing phenomenon has been rediscovered by professionals and the media and dealt with, in many cases, as evidence for a ‘crisis in the family’. ‘Child abuse’ is a very broad category that includes a wide spectrum of cruelty and violence that cannot be covered in its entirety here. I intend instead to focus on the sexual abuse of children by their kin — incest — as this has been the most recent and most controversial issue and the one that relates most obviously to the perspective of this book.
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