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Article
May 26, 1989

Accusations of Child Sexual Abuse

JAMA. 1989;261(20):3035. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420200125051
Abstract

The rediscovery of the sexual abuse of children in the 1980s created a new interface between jurisprudence and health science. Thousands of interactions involving specific cases have flowed along this interface, and high coefficients of friction in many of them have heated it considerably. The adversarial system, beloved by legal practitioners, has thrust itself rudely upon what was once a leisurely and fairly systematic process of acquisition of scientific knowledge, thus forcing premature conclusions about unresolved questions. Recognition that many children are subjected to sexual abuse for many years, with little hope of intervention or protection, has created a massive tension and a need to find effective means of rescue if possible. In this environment, medical and mental health practitioners have attempted to develop scientifically sound and humane approaches that would assist victimized children and to bring these approaches to the social services and justice systems for application.

Many innovative

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