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Deconstructing Victim and Offender Identites in Discourses on Child Sexual Abuse Hierarchies, Blame and the Good/Evil Dialectic

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 54 Issue: 2 Dated: March 2014 Pages: 180-198
Anne-Marie McAlinden
Date Published
March 2014
19 pages
This article examines the issues surrounding the social and political constructions of victimhood and offending behavior as they relate to child sexual abuse policies and legislation.
This article has two primary aims: to examine the constructions of blame and blamelessness concerning victims and offenders of child sexual abuse, and to examine the complexities concerning the victim/offender divide. The article begins with an examination of the literature and research on the changing attitudes towards child victims and the oversimplification of children as "innocent victims." This is followed by a discussion on the changing attitudes towards offenders and the depiction of child sex offenders as "outsiders," or as persons not deserving of protections under the law. The article examines laws enacted in both the United States and the United Kingdom and the continued use of stereotypical images of the "pure" and "innocent" victim and the "dangerous" perpetrator. The final section of the paper discusses the need for policies and legislation that moves beyond the stark, black-and-white perceptions of victims and offenders of child sexual abuse and towards ones that incorporate more strengths- and needs-based approaches for dealing with these specific populations. References