Child Incestby Carle O'Neil, Waln Brown
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Child incest has long been a subject of both social and moral concern. Societies throughout the history of humankind have condemned incest as an abhorrent and dangerous act. Like crimes such as murder and rape, it is a forbidden act – a prohibited behavior – a taboo. Yet despite its long history, child incest has only recently become a subject of open discussion and objective study.
In the 1970s, our knowledge of the many aspects of incest began to grow significantly. This resulted in part from the "women's movement" whereby women felt freer to speak of early sexual victimization. Then, the advent of "good touch/bad touch" programs provided a safe atmosphere for talking about sexual experiences (including incest). There is still much to learn on a scientific basis, particularly about incestuous victimization of boys.
Today, we recognize that incest is a serious and prevalent form of child abuse. We also realize that children generally do not seduce, as was once mistakenly believed, older relatives into having sexual contact with them. The fact is that children, being naturally dependent upon adults, are highly susceptible to the superior authority, power and knowledge of adults. It is a fact, too, that no one has the right to "use" children for sexual purposes.
Although our knowledge about child incest is growing, there is still much that remains unclear. Unfortunately, there is no national provision for the uniform collection of data from all the states. Furthermore, the relatively few scientific studies thus far conducted do not always agree on their findings. What we can state with a high degree of certainty is the following. 1) No social class or ethnic group is exempt. 2) More is known about father/daughter incest (including stepfathers) than that of other relationships. 3) Where fathers are the perpetrators, there are generally other serious family problems including marital discord and social isolation. 4) A serious finding is that the parents themselves often suffered abuse as children.
Because of the increasing awareness of child incest, educational programs are in place to encourage children to forbid and to report adult sexual advances. Where, historically, the occurrence of incest remained ignored and denied, and therapists rejected patients who wished to speak of it, there has been a growth in the number of knowledgeable, skilled and helpful professionals. Enlightened child protective agencies and law enforcement services are increasingly able to deal with the problems rationally and correctly.
Although it does not seem that child incest (or other forms of child sexual abuse) will quickly disappear, there is promise that more and more victims, families and perpetrators are receiving help to change negative patterns and to recover from damaging experiences.
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As a survivor of child incest, I believe everyone concerned about the welfare of children should read this epub. It's right on the money!