Rethinking the competing discourses on uncorroborated allegations of child sexual abuse

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Abstract

This article shows that the competing discourses on uncorroborated allegations of child sexual abuse (UACSA) each rests on unreliable epistemic assumptions, meaning that in any given case it is uncertain whether the individual making the accusation is a genuine victim or the perpetrator of a false allegation against an innocent individual. It argues that this presents a fatal challenge to the existing fields of knowledge and practise on either side of the discursive divide in terms of how alleged victims in UACSA cases are conceptualized and measured and how they are acted upon. It concludes with a call for an open-minded approach, which prioritizes the pursuit of truth in investigations to try to ensure that criminal justice system interventions in such an inherently problematic area are just and that they do not cause or compound the forms of harm and injustice currently at play.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberazy037
Pages (from-to)461-480
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Criminology
Volume59
Issue number2
Early online date26 Sep 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

Keywords

  • Allegations of child sexual abuse; false allegations; discourse; victims; harm.
  • false allegations
  • discourse
  • victims
  • harm

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