Oct. 15, 2012
“German television and the press (especially the tabloids) dwelled on McMartin with almost the same intensity as did the U.S. media….The impact was predictable: an immediate, steep increase in the number of abuse claims by children and their parents….
“In the city of Muenster…. children (at a Montessori school) accused persons totally removed from the setting, including taxi drivers, and talked about coffins, mortuaries, trap doors, chaining and secret subterranean vaults. The panic spread to other schools.
“Finally, the (Montessori) investigation, which lasted from 1990 to 1993, resulted in dismissal for lack of evidence. A key role was played by a level-headed psychologist who submitted an analysis of the children and their parents forming a ‘group mind’ that had evolved through mutually reinforcing suggestion.
“A warning for the modern world: When analyzing children’s allegations, we also must analyze the role of the modern mass media, not only within national boundaries….”
– From “Witch-Children: From Salem Witch-Hunts to Modern Courtrooms” by Hans Sebald (1995)