121116GrometsteinNov. 16, 2012

“In North America in the 1980s, the moral panic about organized child abuse arose in a context that included the following scares:

  • “a moral panic about satanic activity;
  • “a scare about missing and murdered children;
  • “great public anxiety about incest, redefined as child sexual abuse during the 1970s;
  • “a wave of disputed custody cases in which women accused their former husbands of sexually abusing children during court-ordered visitations;
  • “self-help books by women claiming to be ‘survivors’ of incest and ritual abuse;
  • “therapists’ claims that many of their adult women patients suffered from multiple-personality disorder as a result of severe childhood sexual and ritual abuse.

“Of particular importance were claims that society was in denial about widespread child sexual abuse…. Thus, claims about organized child abuse by caregivers were made in a context of claims about similar issues, and the effect of claims in one panic was to reinforce claims in another.”

– From “Wrongful Conviction and the Moral Panic About Organized Child Abuse: National and International Perspectives” by Randall Grometstein (2005)