, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 101-108
Date: 13 Jan 2011

Through a Foucauldian Lens: A Genealogy of Child Abuse

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This theoretical paper takes on a difficult and dangerous argument: that ‘child abuse’ is socially constructed. By using Michel Foucault’s analysis of the complex interplay between power and knowledge, we may be able to explain the changing forms that the struggle against child abuse has taken, without minimizing the reality of the suffering that abuse causes. By examining the historical role that state and child welfare movements played in developing child protective services in North America, we discover how scientific epistemology and medical discourse on child abuse have come together to shape and construct societal beliefs about abusers. This analysis allows us to deepen our understanding of child abuse and the means to preventing it, as well as guides us in developing better and more informed social policies.