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Child sexual abuse, moral panics and emancipatory practice

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This article explores the shared interest of sociologists and social workers in moral panics when considering the public policy challenge of child sexual abuse. Enacted paedophilia is one aspect of the latter. The utilisation of moral panic reasoning in pro-paedophile arguments in the past 50 years is described and the recent version of that reasoning is addressed critically. A critical realist framework is adopted to offer immanent and explanatory critiques of moral panic theory when applied to child sexual abuse. Social work practitioners can reflect on the ideological struggle in the academy between an orthodox child protection position, on the one hand, and a libertarian position that endorses freedom of speech and action, on the other.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: March 2017

This article was made available online on January 5, 2017 as a Fast Track article with title: "Child sexual abuse, moral panics and emancipatory practice".

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  • An International Journal

    Critical and Radical Social Work is an exciting new journal that will promote debate and scholarship around a range of engaged social work themes. The journal publishes papers which seek to analyse and respond to issues, such as the impact of global neo-liberalism on social welfare; austerity and social work; social work and social movements; social work, inequality and oppression, and understanding and responding to global social problems (such as war, disasters and climate change).

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