U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Satanic Ritual Abuse of Children Is Not Widespread (From Child Abuse: Opposing Viewpoints, P 149-157, 1994, David Bender and Bruno Leone, eds. -- See NCJ-159823)

NCJ Number
K V Lanning
Date Published
9 pages
According to the author, the number of well-organized Satanic cults that practice ritual child sexual abuse is exaggerated and false accusations of Satanism impede law enforcement efforts to investigate and prevent child abuse.
While some child molesters may use the trappings of Satanism to frighten young victims, large-scale conspiracies and multiple human sacrifices are just as unlikely as tales of victims cut apart and put back together. Reported cases of Satanic devil worshipers continue to involve unsubstantiated allegations of bizarre activities that are difficult to prove or disprove. Many of these allegations do not seem to have occurred or to even be possible and call into question the credibility of child sexual abuse victims. Cases reportedly involving Satanic ritual abuse of children appear to have four dynamics in common: multiple young victims, multiple offenders, fear as the controlling tactic, and bizarre or ritualistic activity. Some of what victims allege in these cases is physically impossible. Further, the most significant crimes being alleged in certain cases, particularly those involving human sacrifice and cannabalism, do not seem to be true. Possible answers to why adult victims allege things that do not appear to be true focus on pathological distortion, traumatic memory, normal childhood fears and fantasies, misperception, and confusion.