25th Aug, 2013
"The claims made in moral panics are usually so extreme and outrageous that in retrospect they seem wholly absurd. Few living now could accept the claim that powerful Satanic cults with connections in every part of society were enslaving hundreds of thousands of teenage girls in order to produce infants for sacrifice as anything other than the plot of an unusually-unrealistic Hollywood horror film, but in the 1980s and early 1990s this fantastical belief spread across the entire United States; journalists treated it as a realistic scenario, and innocent people were railroaded into prison based on utterly ridiculous and totally unsubstantiated testimony elicited from young children who had been tortured by many hours of grueling, coercive interrogation by police and prosecutors.
Viewing the hysteria from a comfortable distance of two decades, one might well wonder how so many people took complete leave of their senses; how could any rational person believe the sort of absolute rubbish that millions accepted, when even the most basic understanding of arithmetic, science or psychology (not to mention simple common sense and ordinary human experience) should have convinced anyone of even average intelligence that the whole thing was quite impossible?"
February 8, 2013
Moral Panics and Social Work: towards a sceptical view of UK child protection
"Children and families social work has been prone to periodic involvement in scares and moral panics, e.g. the Munchausen by proxy syndrome of the 1970s, glue-sniffing in the 1980s, satanic abuse in the 1990s and more recently, childhood obesity. This opinion piece focuses on a 21st century child protection anxiety, the Internet and child sexual abuse."