The politics of child sexual abuse research

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In Jul 1998, "Psychological Bulletin" published a meta-analysis of the long-term impact of child sexual abuse on college students which sought to debunk the belief that childhood sexual abuse was inevitable traumatic and inevitably led to later mental health problems. Haaken and Lamb attempt to steer a middle ground between a social constructionist or culturally relative position on sexuality on the one hand, and an approach that emphasizes universal principles of justice and care on the other. [...]

Most controversial was its suggestion that a morally neutral term such as "adult-child" sex might be used as the broadest rubric of investigation in this area, because child sexual abuse implies a particular and inevitable negative outcome. The authors argued that the mental health field has been governed by a bias toward viewing intergenerational sexual contact as inherently pathogenic, and that this bias has produced a highly narrow understanding of the association between child abuse and adult psychopathology.

source: Article 'The politics of child sexual abuse research' by Janice Haaken & Sharon Lamb;; Society; Vol. 37 No. 4; p. 7-14; Copyright Transaction Inc. May/June 2000