From Encyclopedia of Sex and Sexuality
The mistreatment of children, including all kinds of cruelty apart from specifically sexual mistreatment, is not a new phenomenon. Crimes against children fill news columns and TV time, and fiction and drama make much use of incest and child rape, all to the public’s interest. Beyond our initial horror at the images of what is done to these helpless children, more disturbing is the betrayal of trust by those responsible for their welfare. People wonder how to begin to make life safer for children, not knowing who can be trusted.
With so much fear and distrust in the air, the atmosphere is ripe for a witch hunt. Communities have turned against day care workers who seem to have done no wrong. There is no doubt that some overly zealous social workers and therapists have encouraged children to remember horrors that never actually happened. Good sense must prevail. Parents, police, courts, and the public must realize that while often a child will recall what has actually happened, in other cases children are led in various ways to invent stories. The sexual abuse of children is real, but not everyone accused by a child is guilty.
Children must be protected and the best way to do that is by preventing child abuse before it happens, rather than by attempting to punish those responsible for it. Money must be invested in child-safety programs if we are to be considered a responsible, caring society.