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Title: Memorialising Childhood Abuse and Maltreatment: Viewing the Past in Changed Times
Contributor(s): Simpson, Brian Hendry  (author)
Publication Date: 2013
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Abstract: How do we read the current concern with the past sexual abuse of children in various religious and other community organizations? The historical abuse of children has been attracting a significant amount of attention in recent years in many countries. For example, in Australia the recently announced Royal Commission on child sexual abuse may well take the best part of the next decade to hear evidence and make its recommendations. In the United Kingdom the Savile affair continues to uncover possible further cases and layers of involvement. Ireland concluded its inquiry on child abuse a few years ago. These are but a few examples that also connect with other recent histories of childhood abuse such as the systematic removal of indigenous children from their families. A major driver and focus of concern of such inquiries is the accountability of those who have abused their power over children in their care as well as delivering 'justice' for the victims of this abuse. But there are also wider readings of this phenomenon that we should consider. Memory studies scholars suggest that public memory is often 'activated by concerns, issues, or anxieties of the present.'(Dickinson, et. al, 2010, 6) Viewed through this lens the past treatment of children has to be understood in terms of which children are being discussed, the institutional focus of the narrative of abuse and present day anxieties about childhood innocence and technological change. In other words, the question to be asked is whether current legal processes that seek to address the institutional abuse of children are part of a larger recasting of cultural practice around childhood, public memory and notions of justice. This paper begins this analysis and asks whether the law is an appropriate tool of justice for abused children, or is more properly described as part of a selective and filtered process of creating a collective memory that engages with various and at times contradictory anxieties and agendas about childhood and justice. Thus the historical narratives of child abuse we currently experience may owe much to present anxieties about not only the place of childhood in contemporary society but also the relevance of established media in a new information age, the distribution of power in an age of remarkable inequality and the role of old religions in a post-secular society.
Publication Type: Conference Publication
Conference Details: Law and Society Association Annual Meeting - Power, Privilege, and the Pursuit of Justice: Legal Challenges in Precarious Times, Boston, United States of America, 30th May - 2nd June, 2013
Source of Publication: Law and Society Association 2013 Annual Meeting Online Program (Session: Childhood, Parenthood and Reform)
Publisher: All Academic, Inc
Place of Publication: online
Field of Research (FOR): 180199 Law not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO): 940499 Justice and the Law not elsewhere classified
HERDC Category Description: E3 Extract of Scholarly Conference Publication
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