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Extent and Nature of Organised and Ritual Abuse

NCJ Number
J S La Fontaine
Date Published
36 pages
Child sexual abuse involving organized and ritual abuse in England and Wales were studied by means of a survey of police and social service agencies and a review of case files on wards of the court.
The analyses revealed that an estimated 242 cases of organized abuse occur each year; of these, about 21 cases involve allegations of ritual or satanic abuse. Organized abuse accounts for a small minority of all cases handled by child protection teams. However, no evidence was found that the sexual and physical abuse of children was part of rites directed to a magical or religious objective. In the three substantiated cases of ritual, not satanic, abuse, the ritual was secondary to the sexual abuse. Other alleged disclosures of satanic abuse by younger children were influenced by adults. However, concern with satanic abuse diverts attention from the serious condition of this minority of damaged children. A belief in evil cults is convincing because it draws on powerful cultural axioms. However, demonizing the marginal poor and linking them to unknown satanists turns intractable cases of abuse into manifestations of evil. Figures, appended tables, and 4 references