Tuesday 8 July 2014

A secret between the two of us

Abusers of children often try to convince them that what is going on should be kept secret. It suits their purposes, because sex with children gratifies the abusers, and they know exactly what is going on, unlike the child.

As a consequence, investigators of child abuse take pains to explain to children that some secrets need to be shared with others, not kept for ever. The UK is currently going through trials of sex abusers of children, and also re-examining the investigations which were carried out, or more commonly not carried out, in previous decades. The general mood in the press is that it is time to expose the secret world of abusers, which may include high profile people capable of covering up their practices and impeding the course of justice.

Regular readers of this blog will not need the following to be spelt out for them, but to new readers, welcome, and please understand this distinction: one can be morally opposed to a practice and also retain an enquiring mind about how it is defined, detected, proved and punished.

In a recent trial of what is now called “historical child abuse” many reporters have said that many sexual practices and events were revealed in the trial which they thought it proper not to report to the general public. They said that the material was so disgusting that it should not to be published. In general, I agree with such restraint.

However, it means that a secret is being kept from us: namely, precisely what takes place when a child or young woman is abused. This cannot be kept secret from everyone. Somewhere there must be trial proceedings which can be seen by researchers who, even if they don’t report each trial in detail, can at least classify the behaviours in terms of severity. For example, child pornography has been classified in terms of the blatant and intrusive nature of the acts portrayed, and presumably this is known to researchers, and can at least be described in general terms. There are many definitions of sexual abuse, but this covers a wide range of behaviours, from unwanted touching to rape. We need more understanding of the categories of actions that constitute abusive sexual behaviour. Otherwise, as members of the general public, we are being led to believe by press accounts that people are being sent to prison for allegedly touching the breasts of young women. It is also unclear how courts deal with adult accusers who apparently consentingly return to the alleged abuser on many occasions for sexual meetings. Restraint in reporting sexual crimes can lead to public bewilderment.

When sexual abuse of children was being investigated decades ago I recall sitting through tapes of children talking about what had happened to them, whilst being interviewed by questioners using anatomical dolls. The interviews were harrowing, and also flawed. Some children being interviewed had very probably been abused. However, many interviewers did not realise that the questions they were putting to the child were too complex, and that they were leading the child rather than using appropriate open-ended enquiries. It was frustrating to see how errors were very probably being made because of a lack of care in interviewing methods, and a lack of understanding of childhood cognition.

There are also more general evidential matters to consider: reporting makes it unclear how the statements of the accused are balanced against the statements of the accuser. Current prosecution policy seems to be to show that there is a pattern of behaviour, namely that the accusation made by one person has also been made by others, presumably independently. This is somewhat different from the procedures followed with other crimes, in which a habitual burglar is judged on each case, not on the fact that they habitually burgle houses. Pattern recognition makes sense from a psychological point of view, but usually common law has been against it, attempting to judge each event on its own merits.

I do not intend to attend any trials, but it would be good if, sometime, someone would spell out what the press did not report, perhaps in an obscure legal report or academic paper. As always, if you know what is going on, please send me a reference.


  1. The psychological process that surrounds what Freud may or may not have properly called "seduction" is crucial to understand. More important than what happened is how it got to that point. The press can reveal this without shocking people on one level, but maybe it would shock them on another level even worse.

  2. Not entirely off topic, may I elicit your opinion on this this Scottish Government policy Doctor Thompson?


    The road to hell is paved with apparently good intentions.


  3. Anon at 17.37.

    we're obviously coming at this from diametric perspectives, and I'm not sure Jame's blog is the place to discuss the politics of reporting but I am genuinely interested in understanding why you use the word hysteria because what I perceive is that there was a huge effort to keep any information out of the press and then almost straightaway after, the investigation into lone geriatric celebs started. The most recent of these cases resulted in a 5 yr sentence and one victim said she was scared because she thought she was going to be raped. I'd be very interested to see a comprehensive table of charges and sentences for both gang abuses and lone abuses.

    1. Your'e saying, girls were not being trafficked? that evidence was fabricated? the girls who did talk on TV and, the occasional person working in the field who were interviewed early on, they were lying? I'm confused as to what you believe you know happened or didn't happen.

    2. No.
      I'm saying use of the word 'trafficked' is indicative of hysteria and Cathedralspeak.

    3. I genuinely do not understand why you think the word trafficked is hysterical. If my daughter had been driven between towns for sexual usage I would insist on the use of the word. Which is why I ask whether you think the girls were not in fact being moved around and used as currency. I'm quite prepared to believe media distorts truths but from what I've read it seems the practice was going on.

      As for the term Cathedral, I would not be surprised if in my own lifetime I witness destruction of some cathedrals in Europe, they are an obvious target and I can sympathise with those who might do it because the west has taken part in processes that have destroyed irreplaceable magnificent architecture outside europe. So I find it a complete travesty that anyone would think the word a clever or appropriate term to use for a political movement opposed to ... whatever it is the DE is opposed to, free-thinking, I think.

  4. "the narrative about rape and paedophilia dodged the ethnic angle"

    Correct, and it will continue to obscure this. Was it Lord Mackay as Lord Chancellor in the 80s who mentioned the non-White on White hate dynamic in many many rape cases? Whover it was apologised of course.

    As Steve Sailer said recently on a different but related topic; we must change the narrative!