A Multi-faceted Phenomenon: Sexuality and Child Sexual Abuse
A comprehensive theory of child sexual abuse will be a complex matter, including elements related to broad social processes as well as to intimate personal relationships and to personality factors. To some extent, child sexual abuse can be viewed as a social phenomenon, linked to general attitudes and practices towards children and also to the ways sexual relationships are organised and regulated in any particular society. However, whilst it is important to include this element in any full model of how abuse occurs, for clinical and social-work purposes it is probably more useful to consider ‘microsocial’ features, particularly the psychology of individual protagonists (especially the abuser) and the interpersonal networks in which abuse occurs. In this and the following chapter we explore the forces that produce child sexual abuse at this microsocial level, focusing on the sexuality of men and of children, and on the family processes that make abuse more likely to occur. Explanatory models of this kind are extremely contentious and bring numerous general and political issues in their wake, a situation which often gives rise to polarised views, particularly between adherents of feminist and family systems viewpoints (see Dale et al., 1986). We therefore wish to spell out our model in advance, before the detailed discussion.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.