There is a syndrome called Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome where children retract their genuine disclosures of sexual abuse as part of a perpetrator-protecting behaviour.
So, when there are stories of satanic ritual child abuse, should these stories be dismissed as crazy witch-hunts, or should we take the stories seriously?
Professor Ross E. Cheit, and his colleagues, have spent nearly 15 years researching such cases.
Ross Cheit has now written The Witch-Hunt Narrative: Politics, Psychology, and the Sexual Abuse of Children.
Professor Cheit confirms that in these 'mass-abuse cases' there is credible evidence of sexual abuse and there are sufficient grounds for prosecution.
He begins with the McMartin Preschool case in California (1983–1990).
He relates that the medical evidence of penetrative injuries was obscured by 'the witch-hunt narrative'.
He relates that key evidence by witnesses was concealed by the authorities.
For example, it was concealed that defendant Ray Buckley had a pattern of exposing himself and offering pornography to children.
Cheit challenges the argument by journalist Debbie Nathan and others that preschool cases across the United States represented mass hysteria and witch-hunting.
Cheit notes that Nathan and Snedecker's 1995 Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of an American Witch Hunt, was a piece of journalism and not a scholarly work.
Cheit explains that the psychologists Maggie Bruck and Richard Ceci systematically obscured compelling evidence of child sexual abuse in the daycare cases to promote the argument that the children were highly suggestible and not credible witnesses.
Above we see six teachers and the founder of the McMartin Preschool in court in 1984 on child abuse charges.
The case ended without a single conviction.
There was evidence suggesting anal penetration.
Children said they'd watched McMartin teachers dig up corpses, that they'd been forced to drink rabbit's blood.
There were reports from other schools of similar activities.
The defenders of the teachers talked about a 'witch hunt' and a hoax.
The advantage of professor Cheit is that he has looked at all the evidence and has debunked the arguments of those who cried 'hoax'.
"We have, over the last 20 years, discounted the word of children who might testify about sexual abuse," he writes.
The Witch-Hunt Narrative: Politics, Psychology, and the Sexual Abuse of Children. By Ross E. Cheit. Oxford University Press.
Can parents make up false stories?
Professor Thomas D. Lyon is a law and psychology professor at the University of Southern California.
He says: "Parents, left to their own devices, are lousy at creating false reports."
Professor Cheit writes of Sandusky and the cover-up at Penn State: "We often minimize and deny so as to allow us to avoid seeing things we would rather not see."
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