Moral Panic (book)
Moral Panic: Changing Concepts of the Child Molester in Modern America is a 1998 book by historian Philip Jenkins. Although the author is dispassionate and does not approach his topic from the perspective of a MAP Ally, this book gives a lot of history about the origins of the hysteria around Child Sexual Abuse and "pedophiles".
As can be seen, a number of the stages he charts align with our own four-stage cyclical model of sex abuse hysteria. Written prior to the present panic over the "normalization" of pedophilia and other "degenerate" sexuality, we have color coded them, as they align with our own observations.
1. Creating Facts
2. Constructing Sex Crime, 1890-1934
3. The Age of the Sex Psychopath, 1935-1957
4. The Sex Psychopath Statutes
5. The Liberal Era, 1958-1976
6. The Child Abuse Revolution, 1976-1986
7. Child Pornography and Pedophile Rings
8. The Road to Hell: Ritual Abuse and Recovered Memory
9. Full Circle: The Return of the Sexual Predator in the 1990s
10. A Cycle of Panic
It is commonly acknowledged that sexual abuse of children is a grave and pervasive problem and that child molesters are predators who compulsively repeat their crimes and have little hope of cure. Yet as recently as twenty years ago many experts viewed the problem far less seriously, declaring that molestation was a very rare offense and that molesters were merely confused individuals unlikely to repeat their offenses. Over the past century, opinion has fluctuated between these radically different perspectives. This timely book traces shifting social responses to adult sexual contacts with children, whether this involves molestation by strangers or incestuous acts by family members. The book explores how and why concern about the sexual offender has fluctuated in North America since the late nineteenth century.
Philip Jenkins argues that all concepts of sex offenders and offenses are subject to social, political, and ideological influences and that no particular view of offenders represents an unchanging objective reality. He examines the various groups (including mass media) who have been active in promoting particular constructions of the emerging problem, the impact of public attitudes on judicial and legislative responses to these crimes, and the ways in which demographic change, gender politics, and morality campaigns have shaped public opinion. While not minimizing sexual abuse of children, the book thus places reactions to the problem in a broad political and cultural context.
Example of reader's review:
This book was excellent. It really walks the reader through the construction of the moral panic surrounding pedophilia in America. I wish that everyone had to read this book, because this is one of the few topics that even “woke” people seem afraid to touch. The book is never sensationalist and really helps the reader to see how the concept of the pedophile has changed in response to social, cultural, economic, political, and legal trends in society. This book really helped me as a youth liberationist to get a grasp on a social panic that is behind a lot of oppression of young people. I think we absolutely have to face the reality of that at the root if we are serious about liberating youth and undoing the damage these moral panics have wrought and this book is a good first step.
Copies of the book can be found on multiple publishing and file-sharing platforms.