chapter  26
18 Pages

Child sexual abuse

WithMichael Salter

This chapter begins by reflecting on the neglect of child sexual abuse in critical criminology and the dominance of a dismissive 'moral panic' account. It summarises analyses of child sexual abuse advanced by feminist criminologists and scholars, for whom child sexual abuse is situated within, the structural and cultural forces at work in contemporary societies. The chapter then discusses critical and psychosocial perspectives on child sex offending, emphasising the interplay of psychological and social dynamics in abuse and responses to it. It identifies four key areas of research and theorising for critical criminologists, namely accounting for the full spectrum of child sexual abuse, attention to power and intersectionality, developing analyses of collective responses to child sexual abuse and advancing justice responses. The chapter concludes by emphasising the centrality of child sexual abuse to contemporary power relations and structures. The pathway of child sexual abuse allegations into and through the criminal justice system is fraught for child and adult complainants.