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Voorkant King 'Moral agendas for children's welfare' Michael KING (ed.)
Moral agendas for children's welfare
London / New York: Routledge, 1999; 206 blzn; ISBN: 02 0300 4515

[Dertien artikelen van verschillende auteurs.]

(1) 1 - Introduction [Michael King]

Iedereen lijkt te weten wat goed en niet goed is voor kinderen.

"With so much moral knowledge around in the media, books, videos, CD-ROMS, the Internet, anyone with a few hours to spare can find out all they need about the right and the wrong way to treat children in every imaginable situation. In todays world, morality has become a commodity like any other. If you do not already have it, it is something you can acquire by going through the proper channels, by making the necessary commitment, by doing a course on it, by watching a video about it, by knowing the right people to give you the right answers. Moral mazes may exist, but their existence confirms that there are those who know their way through the maze and all we have to do is ask them for directions."(1)

Bij die gemakkelijke morele standpunten over wat goed en verkeerd is voor kinderen worden hier vraagtekens gezet.

"Moralizing has never been a more popular activity. In previous times, it was confined largely to gravely intoned sermons from the pulpit or campaigns to save souls from perdition. Today’s moralizers are everywhere and there is today no greater attraction to moralizers than anxieties concerning children, their safety, their delinquent or antisocial behaviour, their drug-taking, their sexuality, their health, their education and their general well-being. Yet all this moralizing about children has to be seen in the context of a social world where the terms ‘morals’ and ‘morality’ are freely and openly tossed around as if everyone knew exactly what they meant by them. Everyone seems to know what morality is and where to find it." [mijn nadruk] (2)

Verschillende benaderingen van moraal worden beschreven, van religieus tot postmodern.

"But how do we know what should be seen as moral and what immoral in all of this? Those who see today’s society as ‘postmodern’ point to what they see as the fragmentation and dislocation not only of society, but also of each individual’s subjective identity within that society. What was a unified whole is now ‘a life in fragments’, and a divided and fractured world characterized by the absence of certainties and the failure of grand theories (including religion) that were once able to provide these certainties. Nobody today can be sure that their conception of right and wrong, of good and evil, will coincide with that of their neighbour or even that their neighbour will share with them the same evaluative framework for making moral judgements. If this level of uncertainty were to pervade all spheres of social existence, there would indeed be some justification in pronouncing the death of modernity and labelling todays society as ‘postmodern’ (assuming always that society still existed as a community where meaning could be shared!). Nevertheless, more pragmatic and less theoretical observers of today's society have no difficulty in finding certainties—not perhaps the grand certainties of the past about the existence of God or the infallibility of science, but those myriads of ‘truths’ and ‘facts’ that allow daily life to continue and decisions to be made. In the phenomenal world where most people live out their daily lives, it is very much business as usual." [mijn nadruk] (6)

[Hoe dat zou moeten blijft echter bijzonder vaag. Het voelt weer als 'wij willen niet moraliseren, hoor', dat wil waarschijnlijk zeggen: wij zillen niets voorschrijven op dat vlak van wat goed of slecht is voor kinderen. Wat dan wel de bedoeling is van dit boek wordt hier niet duidelijk.]

(12) 2 - Images of children and morality [Michael King]

[Dit hoofdstuk biedt min of meer een inhoudsoverzicht van het boek, een samenvattende bespreking ervan. Ik kan dat zelf natuurlijk niet goed samenvatten. Mijn insteek betreft vooral kinderen en seksualiteit.]

"The transience and instability of moral discourses concerning children is an issue which Wendy and Rex Stainton Rogers discuss in their chapter on children’s sexuality (Chapter 11). They criticize the current moral ‘censorship of childhood sexuality’ which ‘takes the form of simply denying it and refusing to accept that there can be any form of sex that is “good” for children’, because of the ‘terrible harm that is wrought by any kind of sexual experience in childhood’. Their critique is in part directed against the paradoxical state of the law which recognizes the capacity of children for sexual behaviour with one breath and tries to protect them against any sexual experience with the next but, more fundamentally, it is an attack on a certain kind of hypocrisy which claims the knowledge to deny children any freedom to enjoy sex, while at the same time endorsing the widespread exploitation of children by adults as sexual objects in advertising and fashion modelling. It is a moral critique of moralizers who, through the rhetorical appeal of their rigid moral agendas, have succeeded both in constructing children as objects in need of protection from any kind of sexual experience and in silencing anyone who is unwise enough to challenge this account." [mijn nadruk] (21-22)

[Mooi, dat is de kern van de zaak, ook voor mij.]

(25) 3 - Moral campaigns for children’s welfare in the nineteenth century [Christine Piper]

Wat zeggen we als we zeggen dat kinderen verkeerd behandeld worden ('child abuse') en dat die 'wrongs' bestreden moeten worden? Wat was bijvoorbeeld de morele agenda in de Victoriaanse tijd?

"Its aim [of this chapter] is to find out what (and why) particular moral truths were being constructed and drawn upon to influence outcomes in relevant decades."(26)

"This chapter, therefore, seeks to disaggregate the perceived consensual Victorian moral agenda for the improvement of the welfare of children and to show how far and in what ways the ‘wrongs’ to be put right related to perceived moral needs of the reformers and society as well as identified wrongs done to children."(27)

"It would be quite misleading to suggest that the child was ignored and invisible before the nineteenth century. However, the development of ideas of innocence and malleability in connection with children replacing, at least to an extent, a concept of original sin, together with a much clearer sense of the separation of childhood and adulthood, led to a greater focus on the role of childhood and to the treatment of children. In that sense, as Behlmer points out, ‘the mid-Victorian generation gave unprecedented attention to children and the problems facing them’ (Behlmer, 1982, p. 3). The image of the child which resulted was a sentimental image of a child who was also frequently portrayed as a vulnerable victim."(27)

"And so legislation to protect children first dealt with apprentices, servant girls, chimney sweeps and then factory owners. Nor did agitation for, or implementation of, such employment legislation cease when the main focus of concern later became that of cruelty to children in the home. Concern with the protection of children from the cruelties inflicted by capitalism continued throughout the century: in the twenty years after the inaugural meeting of the Liverpool Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, in 1883, were passed the Coal Mines and Stratified Ironstone Mines Amendment Act 1887, the Factory and Workshop Amending Acts of 1891 and 1901, the Shop Hours Act 1892, the Mines (Prohibition of Child Labour Underground) Act 1900 and the Employment (Children) Act 1903."(28)

"What emerged was the idea that children should not be publicly visible: that it is wrong to allow a child to act as an adult, either by working in particular places or by being ‘independent’ on the streets — an idea which is still powerful in relation to campaigns to protect ‘street children’ in developing countries.
That the protection of children from the evils of employment was a priority for reformers, and subsequently for the state, from the end of the eighteenth century is, therefore, relatively understandable. The more difficult questions are why intervention in the family to protect children occurred as late as it did and why it occurred to protect delinquent children earlier than abused children.(28-29)

De autonomie van het gezin werd door het christenen en liberalen vanzelfsprekend gevonden. Er werd daarom niet zo gemakkelijk ingegrepen in die invloedssfeer (ook niet via wetgeving).

"The assumption has been made that parental abuse was at this time simply constructed as excessive discipline and was therefore not considered evil. Recent research would suggest that this is not true: there was acknowledgement that domestic abuse occurred by the midnineteenth century and violence in the family was no longer being constructed socially as normal."(30)

"The evil of cruelty to children within the family was apparent before the 1880s. Within the context of moral imperatives for action, therefore, the answer appears simple — interfering with parents’ rights was at that time constructed as a greater evil than that of child abuse." [mijn nadruk] (30)

"Restrictions on the parental rights of the economically dependent clearly did not ‘count’. Parental cruelty to children was therefore simply not wicked enough to balance out the evils of interference with parental control and, particularly, of interference with the rights of a wage-earning father.
On one level this appears quite incomprehensible to the late twentieth-century mind because religion no longer has the authority which it had for the Victorians. The prevalent Victorian Christian religious truth was that the father is the ‘natural’ head of the family, and that he requires the moral, religious and actual authority of that position to ensure the family is run as a unit which transmits the moral values of society. This divinely ordered system would achieve the welfare of the greatest number of children and families. Without unfettered power and responsibility to organize and discipline for the good of the family, the father could not fulfil that role properly: it was therefore seen as too dangerous to risk intervening in families to investigate abuse of the parental power." [mijn nadruk] (30-31)

"What the campaigners saw as seriously wrong were the births and deaths of infants which took place in very particular circumstances where regulation posed no serious challenge to the autonomy of the ‘normal’ family. According to the supporters of the legislation, babies needed protection against the immoral behaviour of those women— often single and unmarried — who left their (illegitimate) babies with ‘baby farmers’, and also against the commercial nurses themselves. Those who opposed the original Bill that was placed before Parliament did so because it would also have caught in its net nurses in manufacturing districts who took children for the day, in other words, childminders who took in children of parents living in the type of unit defined as ‘a family’. This would, as the National Society for Women’s Suffrage expressed it, ‘interfere in a most mischievous and oppressive way with domestic arrangements’. Therefore, pressure from women to preserve their traditional authority over ‘mothering’ gained strength from, and further buttressed, notions of family autonomy ...(...)
In this campaign the construction of the enemy of children had been successfully confined to those who did not live in normal families. The prevalent morality still did not allow of it being defined as seriously wrong for ‘normal’ parents to use childminders whose standards of care might be seriously deficient."(32)

"The focus on the factory child and the minded/fostered baby had generally not required prosecutions against parents. Parents continued to be seen as the protectors, not the enemies, of children. Constructing the child as a victim of a known evil such as parental cruelty was insufficient if intervention threatened the dominant moral system. Something more was required: a threat to the moral system itself — an evil within the system emanating from the family unit that was greater than the threat posed by intervening in that family. This indeed occurred when parents were constructed as ‘wicked’ specifically because they were making their children wicked."(32)

"What this shift led to was a series of Industrial School Acts, 1857–1880, to save children from being taught to be immoral in their families or on the streets, and to impose substitute parental discipline. Such schools could be eligible for grants from public funds. Similarly the Youthful Offenders Act 185435 made reformatory schools an alternative to adult prisons and houses of correction for juvenile offenders, and gave the voluntary societies who established and managed reformatories powers of compulsion over such children. This moral shift by the 1850s did not, however, justify the removal of children who had been physically abused by their parents: the fear of causing moral harm to the family by intervention weighed more heavily in the balance than the evil of parental cruelty." [mijn nadruk] (33)

"The moral role of the family—feeding as it did into religion, social order, the health of a democracy and, therefore, the economic and political well-being of the country—became too important to leave to the family. A gradual reconstruction of the particular moral order to which the Victorians had been committed had occurred sufficiently by the end of the 1880s for the ‘undisciplined’ family (in which child abuse could happen and criminality could be encouraged) to be perceived as one which produced a moral imperative to intervene in that family. Where life in particular families was not in practice sacred and moral, whether its immorality was evidenced by moral or physical abuse of children, it was no longer deemed to carry moral authority ... "(35)

(41) 4 - Liberalism or distributional justice? The morality of child welfare laws [Terry Carney]

[Vind ik niet interessant]

(57) 5 - Can child abuse be defined? [David Archard]

'Child abuse' (kindermishandeling) is een vaag begrip, een waardengeladen begrip, en het kan voordelen hebben om het begrip te definiëren, bijvoorbeeld voor beleid, onderzoek en dergelijke. Waar moet op gelet worden, welke eisen stel je aan zo'n definitie? Het moet bijvoorbeeld duidelijk zijn wat 'significante schade' is. Die schade moet verder ontstaan zijn door het toedoen van mensen - maar het hoeft niet te gaan om individuele mensen, het kan ook gaan om institutionele en collectieve mishandeling. De gebruikte termen moeten onomstreden zijn. Kindermishandeling moet vermijdbaar zijn.

"Different and incompatible definitions of child abuse have been offered. There has been substantial and substantive disagreement about what the term means. When purportedly uncontentious general definitions have been provided they suffer from excessive vagueness and imprecision. The term’s lack of clarity is consistent with its being widely and familiarly used. Indeed it may be the case that we are happier using the term while it remains ambiguous and unspecific."(57)

"The importance of definitional clarity derives most obviously from the fact that the term ‘child abuse’ has enormous evaluative force. It commands a moral response, one of unequivocal condemnation. What it designates is something that is plainly wrong."(57)

"What follows is broadly philosophical in character. It does not indulge the conceit that real problems can be abolished simply by stipulating what a word shall or shall not mean; nor that social policy or political reform is merely applied ethics. However it does start from the belief that when we talk about child abuse we are, at a minimum, talking about something that is seriously bad and that should be reduced in its extent. It does not speculate on or make assumptions about how that reduction should be effected. Nevertheless it does suggest that the terms in which we talk about that problem are crucially important for the ways in which we might think about solving it — and that philosophical skills of analysis and evaluation might usefully inform the exercise of thinking about our use of the concept ‘child abuse’. After all if the conclusion forced upon us is that the use of a distinct category of ‘child abuse’ is more of a hindrance than a help to the cause of improving children’s lives, then the reasoning which led to that conclusion cannot be dismissed as mere idle speculation." [mijn nadruk](58)

"The third requirement of a definition of ‘child abuse’ is that its constitutive terms should not be contentious. The concept cannot have clear evaluative connotations if it is defined in ways that are not evaluatively clear to everyone. There is also a now familiar background principle of law- and policy-making in a liberal society which demands that a government be officially neutral with regard to conceptions of the good. A state should not invoke, in justification of any of its measures, moral understandings, values or precepts that are disputed by some within its jurisdiction.(...)
It should be evident that the scope of neutrality must be restricted to reasonable views. A definition of child abuse cannot, for instance, be neutral with regard to the paedophiliac view that sexual activity between an adult and a young child need not be to the detriment of the latter and may indeed be to his or her benefit. It is reasonable to believe that the objections of paedophiles to principles which prohibit their own activity should be discounted. This is not to say that paedophiles have not mounted and do not try to mount a reasoned defence of their own sexual preferences. Such a defence does not, explicitly, state that the wishes of children should be ignored. But in so far as it does suggest that children may welcome and encourage sexual encounters with adults, its portrayal of children as complicit in their own abuse amounts to a false and self-serving rationalization. Which is to say that paedophilia can only be defended if the interests, needs and wishes of other parties, namely children, are themselves discounted. In this sense, a defence of paedophilia cannot be ‘reasonable’." [mijn nadruk] (59-60)

[De redenering gaat hierboven vreemde kanten uit. Waarom wordt de liberale samenleving er bij gehaald en met zo'n onzin? Een overheid kan helemaal niet neutraal zijn en met iedereen rekening houden. Ze kan wel goede afwegingen maken en met zo veel mogelijk mensen rekening houden. En zelfs dat kan niet altijd. Een definitie van kindermishandeling is evenmin moeilijk neutraal te maken, nietwaar? Dat blijkt ook meteen. De auteur vindt dat we neutraal moeten zijn als het om redelijke standpunten gaat. Maar het standpunt van pedofielen over seks tussen volwassenen en kinderen is volgens hem niet redelijk, dus hierbij hoeven we niet neutraal te blijven. We hoeven niet naar hun argumenten te luisteren en kunnen het gewoon veroordelen als seksuele kindermishandeling. De auteur ziet zijn eigen normatieve insteek niet en gaat er gewoon standaard van uit dat kinderen geen seksueel plezier kunnen of willen beleven met volwassenen, dat ze dat zelfs niet kunnen willen, en dat pedofielen dat alleen maar zeggen om hun gedrag te rationaliseren. Dat zijn een hoop uitgangspunten bij elkaar. Het geheel is niet erg overtuigend, zelfs een beetje nietszeggend, ik denk niet dat het helpt om een voor zo veel mogelijk mensen aanvaardbare en universele definitie te vinden van kindermishandeling.]

(69) 6 - Is male circumcision morally defensible? [Ilan Kafz]

Een samenvattend citaat:

"This chapter will argue that the logic of child protection lies with Jackson rather than Mandela, and that this logic, which underpins professional thinking about children, must see circumcision as abusive and morally wrong. This chapter will also argue, however, that this conclusion is dependent on a system of thought and a reasoning which is not shared by minority communities and that, despite the heavy emphasis placed on culturally sensitive and anti-racist practice, the rationale of child protection cannot deal with rites such as circumcision. I will argue that from a different standpoint it may be morally wrong and indeed abusive for a Jewish child not to be circumcised. Because child protection and cultural practices come from different moral universes, I will conclude that there can be no real argument between them, and that ultimately the issue of which of them is morally right is undecidable."(70)

(81) 7 - Meditations on parental love - The transcendence of the rights/welfare divide [Marinos Diamantides]

[Vind ik niet interessant]

(92) 8 - Justice and childhood - Reflections on refashioned boundaries [Alison Diduck]

[Vind ik niet interessant]

(105) 9 - Moral agendas for psychoanalytic practice with children and families [Judith Trowell and Gillian Miles]

[Vind ik niet interessant]

(117) 10 - With justice in mind - Complexity, child welfare and the law [Andrew Cooper]

[Vind ik niet interessant]

(136) 11 - What is good and bad sex for children? [Wendy Stainton Rogers and Rex Stainton Rogers]

[Dit hoofdstuk gaat over de paradoks die er bestaat tussen van de ene kant het beschermen van kinderen tegen seksuele exploitatie op grond van hun kwetsbaarheid en van de andere kant het verantwoordelijk stellen van jongeren voor de seksuele exploitatie van anderen. Van een kant ontnemen we hen de verantwoordelijkheid voor hun seksualiteit, van de andere kant stellen we hen wel verantwoordelijk voor hun seksueel handelen. Voor protectionisten is alles wat seksueel is slecht voor kinderen, recentelijk zitten ook feministen in die hoek. Dit brengt de eigen verantwoordelijkheid en keuzes van kinderen in gevaar. Overal is er sprake van emancipatie op seksueel gebied, maar bij kinderen wordt seks juist tot een taboe gemaakt. Althans waar het gaat om de eigen zeggenschap van kinderen over hun seksualiteit. Commerciële exploitatie en de seksualisering van kinderen door de media worden opvallend genoeg wel toegestaan.]

"Even those who advocate the legalization of sex between children and adults make a distinction between what they regard as ‘consensual’ and enforced sexual activity. This view was clearly expressed by Brongersma, a well-known Dutch lawyer who has written extensively in defence of this position. He argues for the need to distinguish between:
two very different types of adult offenders [which] is essential if rational action is to follow. Broadly, these groups are, on the one hand, adults who form happy and often affectionate relationships with children and are welcomed to sexual involvement; and, on the other hand, there are adults who manipulate events undesirably by applying physical or emotional pressure. (Brongersma, 1978, p. 109)"(136)

"Such apologists for paedophilia aside, few would regard small children as being able to form ‘happy and often affectionate relationships’ which involved sexual contact with adults. We have argued in detail elsewhere (Stainton Rogers and Stainton Rogers, 1996) that attempts to adopt such a position ignore the power differential between adults and children." [mijn nadruk] (137)

[Opvallend dat er ineens over 'kleine kinderen' gesproken wordt. De gevoelswaarde ervan suggereert kinderen van vijf of zes jaar. Ik vind dat manipulatief. Wanneer spreek je van kinderen? Ook als ze nog twaalf of dertien of veertien zijn? Dacht ik wel. Officieel zelfs iedere jongere onder de achttien.
En dan dat idee 'machtsverschil'. Dat is er in de opvoeding altijd, sterker nog: het kan er zelfs zijn als iemand al volwassen is. Waarom is dat machtsverschil en de mogelijke beïnvloeding door een machtspositie nooit een probleem als het om allerlei andere dingen gaat en ineens wél als het om seksualiteit gaat? Macht en beïnvloeding zijn echt containerbegrippen. Zoals de auteurs zelf in Noot 4 op p.150 zeggen:

"Power is, of course, an important analytic in much recent social theorizing but it is also a weasel word as easily employed for ideological purposes as ‘witchcraft’ or ‘bourgeois’."
Dat vind ik nu ook.]

"It is usually, then, these older minors who feed the paradox with which we began ..."(137)

"Value judgements thus become much more contentious once we begin to consider the ‘grey areas’ in between childhood and adulthood. Once we do, we come up against complex concerns about, for example, the competing entitlements of the young — to protection from adult exploitation and coercion on the one hand; and, on the other, to autonomy, to access to information and to be treated as authentic persons with the capacity to make choices for themselves. These, in turn, raise questions about the social construction of ‘child-hood’, and the way the adult world may ‘infantilize’ the young to serve its own ends." [mijn nadruk] (137)

"Protagonists for paedophilia, as we have noted, are one such special interest group, notable for the self-serving interest of the case they make to decriminalize ‘consensual’ adult—child sex.
We should not assume, though, that others lack self-interest in the cases that they make. For example, among professionals and academics whose work focuses on child protection it has now become almost mandatory to assert that any sexual encounter between a child and an adult is, by definition, ‘child sexual abuse’ or, indeed, a form of incest — a term deliberately used in order to disturb." [mijn nadruk] (137)

[Precies. Ook eigenbelang is een containerbegrip. Mensen die anderen verwijten dat ze dingen doen uit eigenbelang doen dat zelf uiteraard uit eigenbelang. In andere boeken is inderdaad duidelijk gemaakt dat veel van die mensen die beroepsmatig met seksueel misbruik van kinderen te maken hebben er zelf alle belang bij hebben dat het bestaat want anders zouden ze hun baan kwijtraken. Dingen zijn veel complexer dan dat. Het is in het denken over kinderen en seks te gemakkelijk om te wijzen naar leeftijdsverschillen, machtsverschillen, eigenbelang en dat soort zaken. Op die manier kom je nooit tot een goede normatieve analyse. En goochelen met woorden en hun gevoelswaarde - zoals protectionisten zo graag doen - hoort daar niet in thuis. Goed dat de auteurs daar op wijzen.]

"By defining every instance of sexual interaction between adults and children (even those of which the child is completely unaware) as ‘incest’ or as ‘sexual abuse’, it is made self-evident that such behaviour is, by definition, ‘bad sex’ for children, carrying as it does connotations of exploitation and coercion. The protectionist discourse thus constructs a very clear demarcation, one where there is no leeway at all — no possibility of any form of adult-child interaction involving anything in the least sexual which could be constituted as ‘good sex’ for the child." [mijn nadruk] (138)

Met zo'n standpunt criminaliseer je heel veel seksuele activiteiten tussen jongeren.

"More crucially for today’s young people, as Sullivan (1992) has pointed out, to treat a sexual relationship between an under-sixteen and an over-eighteen-year-old as ‘sexual abuse’ is to pathologize a great deal of teenage behaviour (and also that of parents and others — such as doctors — who, for example, offer under-age young people access to contraception). Bremner and Hillin (1994) report that currently 48 per cent of girls and 36 per cent of boys say that they have had penetrative sex before the age of sixteen, so we are not talking here of a trivial proportion of young people." [mijn nadruk] (138)

[Precies. Dat protectionistische standpunt wil die feiten helemaal niet kennen. Vanuit hun perspectief zou dit gedrag niet mogen bestaan en dus wordt dat gedrag normatief weggepoetst of althans: dat proberen ze uit alle macht voor elkaar te krijgen door te verbieden, te criminaliseren, te ontkennen, en noem maar op. Maar het is zoals het is, en het lijkt me realistischer en verstandiger en beter om rekening te houden met die feiten, welke kant je normatief ook uit wilt.]

"What we can see here, then, is a divide between popular wisdom and the views promoted by those who advance a strongly protectionist case. Common sense accounts distinguish between ‘good’ (or at least not ‘bad’) sex for children — which includes consensual sex between teenagers, masturbation and ‘playing doctors and nurses’ — and ‘bad’ sex — anything involving coercion, exploitation or force. The protectionist discourse, however, is much more suspicious about what may be behind the ‘innocent’ sexual play of small children or those teenage relationships that involve sex. Presented with these potential examples of ‘good sex’, protectionists are quick to point out that the children’s sexual play may indicate that the children concerned have been sexualized as a result of sexual abuse, or that young men are no less capable of sexual coercion than adult men, and young women no less vulnerable to it than adult women."(138-139)

[En zo wordt alles geconstrueerd als seksueel misbruik. Ik vind het belangrijk om dat duidelijk te zien: seksueel misbruik is een sociale constructie.]

"This protectionist discourse is of relatively recent origin. This can be observed by comparing two accounts of what we would now call ‘child sexual abuse’. The first was published in the mid-1960s. In it the author, West, defined paedophilia as ‘indulging in sexual play with pre-pubertal children’ and says of its effects:
Actually the dangers to children are less than popularly supposed. Most paedophiles are childish in their approaches, and go no further than the mutual display and fondling which small children might indulge in among themselves. Although this does not make the offence any less obnoxious, the fact is that the victims are not infrequently seductive, attention-seeking children who try to elicit interest from neighbours, relatives or strangers where they have not been able to get it from their own parents Given a normal background the experience is not likely to impair a child’s emotional development, although the fuss and distress of subsequent court appearances can be harmful.
Now contrast this with a description given twenty years later in what virtually became the ‘bible’ for people working with adult survivors of child abuse, The Courage to Heal:
The long-term effects of child sexual abuse can be so pervasive that it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint exactly how the abuse affected you. It permeates everything: your sense of self, your intimate relationships, your sexuality, your parenting, your work life, even your sanity. Everywhere you look you see its effects. (Bass and Davis, 1988, p. 33)"(139)

[Goede vergelijking inderdaad. De eerste benadering is nog in staat te relativeren, de tweede niet meer.]

"The impact of this shift has been considerable. It creates difficulties for children’s emancipation. Efforts to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation have led to policies and practice which can deny children quite fundamental human and citizenship rights. In a world in which there has been an extensive liberalization of attitudes and values, especially concerning sex, any countenancing of sex between adults and children has ‘bucked the trend’. Children’s sexuality has become a taboo topic — unthinkable and unacknowledgeable. Even those who elsewhere argue against the censorship of pornography feel they must (in public at least) draw the line at pornography involving children (e.g. see Thompson, 1994). Any attempt to argue an emancipatory case — to seek to explore the down-side costs to children and young people of protection, or to open up debate about the sexual rights of young people (such as reducing the ‘age of consent’ for gay young men) — can (and does) lead to accusations of, at the very least, acting (either complicitly or naïvely) as an apologist for the paedophile lobby. Yet, even at this risk, this is what we propose to do."(139-140)

[Dat is dapper van de auteurs.]

Eerst waren de 'deskundigen' bezig met een oorlog tegen masturbatie ('self-abuse!'). Nu ze die verloren hebben zijn ze bezig met een oorlog tegen de seksualiteit van kinderen.

"By the 1980s, however, mainly as a result of second-wave feminism coupled with a broader movement to counter ‘child abuse’ (arising from a growing recognition of children’s rights and a lessening of parental authority, together with increased state surveillance of and intervention in families), the ‘sexual abuse’ of children came to be seen as far more widespread and common. Since the early 1980s there has been a dramatic increase in the number and proportion of cases of child sexual abuse reported and investigated. Parton et al. (1997) report that whereas in 1978 only eighty-nine children were listed in England on child protection registers because of concerns about sexual abuse, by 1986 this figure rose to nearly 6,000 and by 1994 it reached 9,600." [mijn nadruk] (142)

"Increasingly this censorship of childhood sexuality takes the form of simply denying it, and refusing to accept that there can be any form of sex that is ‘good’ for children on account of the terrible harm that is wrought by any kind of sexual experience in childhood."(143)

"Similar events and phenomena are thus clearly being construed in quite different ways. In the early twentieth century it was self-abuse which was the problem and any involvement by another person merely a side-issue of little consequence. In the 1980s and 1990s it is abuse of the child which is the problem, and any masturbation in which the child engages nothing more than one of any number of signs that may alert the well-informed carer or practitioner that the child may be at risk.
So, we can ask, what is going on? Why is it that while the locus of concern gets shifted, the product of child+sex arouses so much hostility? Some clues are provided by Foucault (1990, original French 1976), who argued against the popular view that the twentieth century has brought forth a liberalization of sexuality. He suggested that what has happened was not so much deregulation as the replacement of one set of regulatory strategies by another." [mijn nadruk] (143)

"Here we will concentrate upon exploring the strategy of ‘pedagogizing’ the sexuality of childhood. This strategy can be seen both as problematizing and seeking to regulate children’s sexuality. These can be viewed as responses to the potential of childhood sexuality to act as a site of resistance to adult power."(144)

Belangrijk thema is natuurlijk de 'consent'-kwestie: kan een kind toestemming geven voor / instemmen met seks?

"The debate over consent then opened up, as this theorization was subjected to criticism that it is patriarchal, heterosexist and opaque to issues of power. (...)
Such critiques, initially arising from feminist commentators such as Nelson (1987) sought to counter arguments that children are ‘seductive’ or ‘knowing’ — that is, capable of not just consent but also of initiating and inviting sex with adults (as demonstrated, for example, in the description by West, quoted earlier). The advocacy of the case that children are, by definition, incapable of consent is not based upon a developmental understanding of their intellectual capabilities, but on a sensibility to their vulnerability to adult power." [mijn nadruk] (145-146)

"The assumption that children are incapable of consenting to sex with adults (or just as importantly with other children) is, however, highly problematic. In other domains, children are being seen, as they mature, as increasingly capable of participating in decision-making about matters which affect them. Indeed, this has been ratified as a right both by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the England and Wales Children Act 1989. Under present law in the UK, Canada and the USA, children have recently been given greater freedom to give informed consent for themselves (e.g. to being prescribed contraception) and to refuse consent (e.g. to a courtordered medical examination), though there are notable exceptions.
However, Sullivan (1992) advises caution over reading into these recent changes in the law a commitment to promoting the emancipation of children. Rather, he suggests, what we are seeing is a medicalizing of adolescent sexuality, whereby control is shifted not from parents to children, but from parents to doctors. In other words, there is no let-up to the regulation of children’s sexuality, merely a shift of regulatory power from one location to another. Despite the rhetoric of ‘children’s rights’, Sullivan argues that, in fact, the current climate of opinion is one where this discourse is effectively silenced with regard to children’s sexual rights." [mijn nadruk] (146)

[Met andere woorden: kinderen krijgen worden steeds meer voor vol aangezien, maar niet op het vlak van seks.]

"This is not an isolated example. Sullivan points out that something similar happened in the debates about lowering the age of consent in Australia, where once again the two competing discourses were not treated equally either in the formal process of consultation or by the press. The protectionist discourse tended to be expressed in terms of the vulnerability of small children; while the liberatory discourse was deployed in terms of the activities and agency of young people. In this way the potential problems over limiting the autonomy of young adults were neatly side-stepped. The liberatory arguments were countered by focusing on deviant sexuality —such as prostitution and paedophile exploitation. The issue of young person’s sexuality — qua sexuality — was simply not allowed to be raised.
So we have a situation, certainly throughout the English-speaking world, where the protectionist discourse has come to dominate the way virtually all ‘right-thinking’ people view any engagement by children in sexual activity. It is also at the core of the policies and practice of welfare work with children. This protectionism is largely based on two main harm-warrants:
* Concern about the psychological and emotional harm that children suffer as a consequence of sexual abuse
* Fear of the predation by paedophiles, which is seen to pose serious risks to children.
We would suggest, however, that these harm-warrants are not only much less justified than they are generally held to be (see O’Dell, 1997), they also obscure concerns which are much less altruistic — concerns about the potential for wielding the power inherent within sexuality. If we look to the power-potential of children’s sexuality, then, we believe, we get a rather different story of what is going on."(147)

De erotische aantrekkingskracht van kinderen wordt namelijk wel gebruikt in reclames en dergelijke. Dan mag die blijkbaar wel bestaan.

"In other words, the adult world is well aware of the capacity for children to be — or at least be seen as (and, perhaps, to know they are seen as) — sexual. And it is, in certain settings, only too ready to exploit that sexuality. However, what it does not want to allow is for children to act as agents of their own sexuality, for this poses a number of threats. As with the sexuality of women and ‘black’ peoples, the dominant symbolic order needs to regulate the sexuality of children to prevent it from ‘getting out of hand’ (that is, posing any challenge or acting as a means of resistance)." [mijn nadruk] (148)

"Sullivan (1992) points out that the protectionist discourse is used not only to justify taking action against the exploitation of small children, but also to justify controlling the sexuality of teenagers. Sullivan gives the example of how Canadian law now criminalizes sex between, say, a sixteen-year-old young woman and an eighteen-year-old young man, if the young man is in a position of authority over her. Law and policy in the English-speaking world seem increasingly tempted into such extensions of regulation wherever issues of power are detected. The cost to young adults and adolescents is, for example, to deny them access to information (such as sex education) and confidential advice. In particular, it exposes large numbers of teenagers to forms of intervention which deny their civil rights, drawing them into a ‘child protection’ system which allows them little or no say in what happens to them."(148)

"How far, we need to ask, are adults solely concerned with the ‘welfare of the child? Could it be, for example, that we are also scared and threatened by the possibilities of what might happen if children get to challenge adult authority seriously? Are we, perhaps, even jealous of such possibilities?"(149)

"To acknowledge that children may be sexual, may enjoy sex, may use sex as adults do is scary. But the fear will not simply go away if we pretend these possibilities do not exist. In a world in which we expose children to sexual imagery and use their images to convey sexuality, we have to find ways of confronting these possibilities, however uncomfortable that may be. This chapter is intended as a cautious beginning to that process."(149)

(151) 12 - Identity, religious fundamentalism and children’s welfare [Stephen Frosh]

[Vind ik niet interessant]

(161) 13 - Failing children - Responding to young people with ‘behavioural difficulties’ [Daniel Monk]

[Vind ik niet interessant]

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