Through the looking glass: children and the professionals who treat them

  • Emily Driver
Part of the Women in Society book series


This chapter focuses on the need for childcare professionals to reconsider their attitudes to child sexual abuse and to learn to handle their own personal problems with the subject. It is based in part on experience gained working with abused children in a locally funded project which was founded and run by incest survivors themselves.1 The project arose from concern amongst community groups that the general response of psychiatrists, social workers, health care workers, etc. was not adequate to abused children’s needs, largely because of the ignorance and fear with which professionals were approaching children and their families. Even during the 1980s it was frequently denied in professional circles both that workers themselves had been abused as children and that a proportion of professionals were exploiting their access to children to perpetrate such abuse.2 Consequently, clients or patients often found their own needs unanswered or their troubles intensified by professional prejudices and projections.


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Notes and references

  1. 9.
    Irwin Dreiblatt, ‘Issues in the Evaluation of the Sex Offender’, a presentation at the Washington State Psychological Association Meeting, May 1982: ‘The [offender] is on an adversarial footing with the authorities and, to some degree, with the examiner. Lying and deception on the part of the client are typical … Effective assessment and treatment of the offender require a degree of skepticism and cynicism on the part of the professional. I tell my clients that I do not operate on a trust basis. Trust is what is abusable. I communicate to them that I have no intention of feeling confident in them. Feeling confident about them can be dangerous.’Google Scholar
  2. 10.
    Dr Ann Wolbert Burgess, ‘The Sexual Exploitation of Children: Sex Rings, Pornography and Prostitution’, paper presented at a symposium on child sexual abuse at Teesside Polytechnic, Middlesbrough, 20 May 1984.Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    The suggestion has been made by Incest Survivors’ Campaign and Incest Crisis Line, amongst other pressure groups. For the police statistics on wife-battering, see M. M. Hall, ‘Why the Police don’t give a Damn about Domestic Violence’, Cosmopolitan, January 1988.Google Scholar
  4. 16.
    For example, Danya Glaser, ‘The Treatment of Sexually Abused Children’, paper presented at a symposium on child sexual abuse at Teesside Polytechnic, Middlesbrough, 20 May 1984.Google Scholar
  5. 18.
    See Anne Marie Jones, The Foster Child, Identity and the Life Story Book, Social Theory and Institutions Publications, University College, Bangor, 1985.Google Scholar
  6. 19.
    Ronald Cooper, Leeways Residential Home, Lewisham: The Guardian, 4 June 1983.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Emily Driver 1989

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  • Emily Driver

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