REVIEW Õ We Believe the Children

Richard Beck ☆ 1 REVIEW

REVIEW Õ We Believe the Children ´ During the 1980s in California New Jersey and New York Michigan Massachusetts and Florida Tennessee Texas Ohio and elsewhere daycare workers were arrested charged tried and convicted of committing horrible sexual crimes against the children they cared for These crimes social workers and prosecutors said had gone uChildren to tell them what they wanted to hear Local and national journalists fanned the flames by promoting the story's salacious aspects while aggressive prosecutors sought to make their careers by unearthing an unspeakable evil where parents feared it most Beck tracks the panic all the way to its decline at the end of the decade as parents and prosecutors were finally forced to reckon with the total lack of physical evidence underpinning the story Yet at the heart of We Believe the Children is the idea that the conditions that made this frenzy of accusations possible were very specific to their moment in American history The climate of fear that surrounded these cases influenced a whole series of arguments about women children and sex that had been intensifying for some twenty years At the root of these accusations were competing visions of society and what it was that threatened it mos. ControlIt's all about control If you feel you have lost control over and have no explanations for very important aspects of life things you can't bear to confront consciously then you look about to see what you can control or think you can and try to explain them If you can't explain and search for a solution to the biggest problems you try to find a problem you can control or at least try to explain Your repressed fears become an atmosphere you can't escape an intolerable burden to your emotional self and you look around for something you can project your fear onto and then attack it Or lacking the ability to do battle with it yourself get authority figures to do battle with it for you And all the while the real cause of your fear a proverbial elephant in the living room goes unmentioned and ignored while you and perhaps your friends neighbors relatives and others fasten on something else as the culprit something you can deal with which may not even be real This is how mob violence starts often aided and abetted by powerful people who can use such fear and violence to further their own aims It's also how many political movements have gotten their start and it is rarely productive of anything save a great deal of noise lots of confusion and grave injustices which may end up disrupting or even ending the lives of innocent bystanders accidentally caught up in human mayhem directed at a nebulous or even imaginary target If you feel that your life is spiraling out of control for reasons that have little or nothing to do with you the human need for the feeling of having control over our lives is such that you are very likely to fasten on something anything that gives you at least the deeply felt illusion that things are under your control or could be And it on just that dynamic that so many lives have been heavily damaged or actually destroyed by well meaning badly frightened people down through history If nothing else the witch hunts ancient and modern the ones of the Middle Ages as well as the political witch hunts of the 20th Century certainly testify to thatDuring the 1980s the last decade of the Cold War with the threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over the whole world the unconscious deeply repressed fears of nuclear Apocalypse so many Americans suffered from erupted in rumors and speculations that at least one or as many as twenty satanic covens were lurking in every neighborhood seducing youngsters into engaging in the occult kidnapping young women to be bred to produce babies which would then be sacrificed to Satan and otherwise doing everything to bring about The Triumph of Evil More and Americans from frightened homemakers to prominent businessmen as well as numerous members of various civilian police forces were drawn into such beliefs thinking with so much smoke there must be fire around here somewhere By the end of the 1980s especially thanks to tabloid journalism and television specials numerous people who had done no real harm were rotting away in prison their pleas for justice unheeded by not only the general public but also the courts in prison on the strength of accusations that had no actual basis in fact All in the service of deeply repressed fears about nuclear Apocalypse and all the horror it might wreak at any moment given conscious expression in the form of satanic figures who didn't exist institutional child molesters who had molested no one and a paranoia that in some areas seemed to swell and swell until they encompassed whole neighborhoods communities towns cities and perhaps even statesAnd right on cue in the latter half of the year 1991 with the downfall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War it all came to a screeching and one hopes a shame faced blushing haltAs described in Richard Beck's We Believe the Children during the 1980s in states ranging from California Oregon and Washington to New York New Jersey Ohio and many others day care workers were arrested charged tried and convicted of perpetrating horrific sexual crimes against the very children they cared for Social workers prosecutors and psychiatrists and psychologists employed by local and state governments said that these crimes had gone undetected for years consisting of a sadistic brutality that defied all imagining The dangers of day care centers and babysitting services became fixations of national news media especially the tabloids and Geraldo style investigative reporting Of the many hundreds of people who were investigated in connection with day care and ritual abuse cases all over the country than 190 were formally charged with such crimes leading to than 80 being convicted As in the time in Europe of the great literal witch hunts that took place when weather famine disease and war made life utterly uncertain for the common run of people America in the late 1940s and early 1950s and the McCarthyite Communist witch hunts and the post bellum American South before the energetic pursuit of civil rights for both black Americans and the poor whites both kept down by authorities over them by aiming the two groups at each other in order to make sure that neither group would turn against those who had them both in their power the satanic ritual abuse and child molestation fears of the American people in the 1980s were driven by unconscious fears of things most Americans had no control over and which could conceivably lead to their doomYears later people began to realize what the defendants had said all along that these persecutions wee the product of a decade long outbreak of collective hysteria on a par with all earlier instances of group fears about nebulous and even imaginary evils in the face of real and uncontrollable evils whether of war famine and pestilence or literal witches or Communists or any of the other things that frantic people fasten on as foci for their fears and targets to be taken down and destroyed all in the name of unconscious terror as impossible to deny as Winston Smith in George Orwell's 1984 terror of being eaten alive by ratsBeautifully written and meticulously documented author Richard Beck shows how a group of legislators doctors lawyers and parents most having only the best of intentions but we all know what that road is paved with set the stage for a cultural disaster The climate of terror that surrounded these cases influenced an entire series of discussions about women children and sex It also drove a right wing cultural resurgence which in many respects continues to this day especially among the religious right driven by among other things the specter of radical Islamic fundamentalism and the horrors perpetrated by such extremist groups as Islamic State And the terrible existential insecurities underpinning all such cases of group hysteria show no sign of abating In fact they are likely to get worse over time as will the group hysterias that are then associated with them Reading this book will give the reader at least some preparation for dealing with whatever the future brings of such uncertainties be the latter concerned with crop failures weird and unpredictable weather wars and rumors of war catastrophically failing economies ghastly emerging diseases or a combination of all of these


During the 1980s in California New Jersey and New York Michigan Massachusetts and Florida Tennessee Texas Ohio and elsewhere daycare workers were arrested charged tried and convicted of committing horrible sexual crimes against the children they cared for These crimes social workers and prosecutors said had gone undetected for years and they consisted of a brutality and sadism that defied all imagining Children across the country painted a nightmarish picture of their abuse some claiming they had been taken to graveyards sometimes to kill animals and sometimes to dig up bodies which were removed from their coffins and stabbed In some cases investigators said that the abusers were filming the crimes on behalf of international child pornography rings The dangers of babysitting services and day care centers became a national news media fixation and legislatures took action to fend off the new. An incredibly well researched and riveting overview of the satanic panic and preschool abuse scandals that rocked the 80s as well as the cultural causes and results thereof It is a dense book and definitely a history text as opposed to a piece of investigative journalism but the author says so at the very top so if that's not your thing you've been warned twice There are many incredible accounts of individual cases within this paranoid event in American history but if you want an exhaustive resource of the whole tangled narrative to refer back to this is it I highly recommend it to anyone interested in satanism ritual child abuse recovered memories multiple personalities witch hunts the 80s the nuclear family and its declining grip on American culture or the structure of accusation and verification Though the events the book covers are clearly very different from what is happening as I write this it is 2018 and a lot of accusations of sexist abuse have come to light in the last year but generally from adult women and not typically recovered memories but living ones it is a good message of warning that the human brain is fallible and that the impulse to unuestioningly believe the victim is not without conseuence I couldn't help but think about this comparison consistently throughout even as I regularly saw the dissimilarities as much as the similarities Remembering history is as ever the responsibility of a person who wants to change the future

CHARACTERS We Believe the Children

We Believe the ChildrenThreats facing the country's children Of the many hundreds of people who were investigated in connection with day care and ritual abuse cases around the country some 190 were formally charged with crimes leading to than 80 convictionsBut none of it happened It was a decade long outbreak of collective hysteria on a par with the Salem witch trialsUsing extensive archival research conducted in Los Angeles Miami New York Minneapolis and elsewhere and drawing on dozens of interviews conducted with the hysteria's major figures n1 editor Richard Beck shows how a group of legislators doctors lawyers and parents most working with the best of intentions set the stage for a cultural disaster Psychiatrists and talk therapists turned dubious theories of trauma and recovered memory into a destructive new kind of psychotherapy Social workers and detectives employed coercive interviewing techniues that led. On every page there is something to disturb whether it’s depictions of satanic child abuse coercive interrogation of minors or miscarriages of justice What else could a reader want The hysteria of falsely recovered memories cult murder conspiracies and “What about the children” moral repression is charted by Richard Beck in his book WE BELIEVE THE CHILDREN THE STORY OF A MORAL PANIC IN THE 1980s with honesty fairness and critical thinking that is unbiased and still has a point of view That point of view is that the a shift in thinking about abuse as being made up of social economic and political as well as psychological causes to strictly psychologic created unreliability and accusations based solely on faith That abuse is based on a discrepancy of power not sex and the fundamental motivation for the overreaction to child abuse cases in daycare centers was a backlash against the dismantling of the nuclear family as women gained rights and euality There is just so much to recommend about this book from its ethical stance to its entertaining if tragic content But don’t be too smug as you read of people’s craziness because we’re all capable of the same mass delirium