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Politics of Child Abuse

NCJ Number
P Eberle; S Eberle
Date Published
319 pages
This book examines recent child abuse trials that have attracted national attention, interviewing both prosecutors and defendants to depict the pressures and injustices on both sides.
An introduction highlights the spectacular increase in reports of child molestation and radical changes in handling child abuse allegations, notably relying heavily on the child's testimony. The first case discussed is the prosecution of the McMartin Preschool in southern California. In interviews, two leading psychiatrists in the child abuse area explain their theories which have influenced new legislation and innovations in courtroom procedures regarding the acceptable testimony of children. Accounts compiled through VOCAL (Victims of Child Abuse Laws) illustrate harassment and ruin as a result of false allegations. The book describes other cases involving false accusations, including families whose children were placed in foster homes, a single parent who lost custody of her children, an epidemic of child molestation reports in Bakersfield, Calif., a preschool in Los Angeles County, and a teenage boy working as a part-time teacher's aide. These accounts demonstrate how personal vendettas, political factors, competition for government grants among agencies, and pressures on the courts influence the handling of child molestation cases. References, the Federal Child Abuse Act, and example of a Notice of Motion to Disqualify the District Attorney.