Aug. 16, 2013

“Ritual abuse may now seem an almost quaint aberration, a temporary fad that seized the popular imagination, as outdated as hula-hoops or disco fever. But our anxieties about children continue to affect our judgment. When a meta-analysis of research published in Psychological Bulletin (1998) suggested that not all children under the age of 18 were traumatized by having sexual experiences before adulthood, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning the association. Not surprisingly, the popular outcry that led to the Congressional resolution was sparked by talk show celebrity Laura Schlessinger.

“More recently, a book that explored whether overzealous response to fears about children and sexuality are harmful to the youth we seek to protect was published by the University of Minnesota press after trade publishers deemed it too controversial for their lists; Tim Pawlenty, then a state legislator, but who was elected governor of Minnesota in 2002, quickly moved to condemn the publication and the University for publishing it.”

– From “The Devil in the Details: Media Representation of ‘Ritual Abuse’ and Evaluation of Sources” by Barbara Fister in Studies in Media & Information Literacy Education (May 2003)