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July 7, 1978

Sexual Abuse of Children

Author Affiliations

From the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, Washington, DC, and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, Calif.

JAMA. 1978;240(1):43. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290010047021

In recent weeks, the sexual abuse of children has received intensive attention in the media. To a large extent, this concern has centered around congressional hearings into child pornography. While we deplore the existence of this industry and the abuse of children that it entails, we believe that the use of children in pornography is but one tangential aspect of a more general problem—the sexual misuse of children.

Numerous authors have become increasingly aware that incest, sexual relations between adults and children, and rape of children are important and not uncommon problems. Most work until now has tried to place blame on a responsible adult. Thus, these situations are often characterized simplistically as violent acts done by an adult perpetrator against an innocent child victim. While this approach is sensible if a person wishes to ascertain legal culpability, it ignores the fact that the psychological situation is far more complex.