drcn’s rights advocates, and lawyers—this powerful eoalitionrnhas been able to place a political emphasis on the detectionrnand prosecution of abuse, which few hae had the will or therndesire to oppose. (I’cw otcs arc to be gained from assertingrnthe due process rights of alleged child molesters or incestuousrnparents.) hi practice, this political support has been expressedrnin the form of allocating resources to child protection servicesrnand specialized anti-abuse units in the police or social services.rnSuch organizations have a powerful vested interest in assertingrnthe continuing reality and seriousness of the threatrnthey were established to combat. When did we last hear anyrnbureaucrat state that his agency found itself with little work torndo, so that he would be grateful if his excess resources could bernreassigned to a more worthy cause? There is thus a bureaucraticrndnamic in favor of the inxcntion of abuse cases wherernnone existed and of the exaggeration of others that wouldrnotherwise have been regarded as trivial or nonthreatening.rnAbuse statistics spiral upwards, creating still more demandrnfor new resources and legislation, and the cycle appears inexorable.rnhi other words, “Believe the Children” has become an elaboraternideological system that offers articles of faith about thernscale of crimes against children (vast), the effects of abusernupon victims (devastating and lifelong), and the changes in lawrnand goyernment required to fight the menace (revolutionary).rnControversies over child abuse offer perhaps the mostrntelling illustration of the conflict between legal and therapeuticrnalues, the debate outlined in the 1970’s in Nicholas N.rnKittrie’s classic I’he Right to Be Different: Deviance and EnforcedrnTherapy. Anglo-American legal alues assume the innocencernof the accused person and require that the state provernits charges against him or her before penal sanctions of any sortrncan be imposed. The suspect also benefits from other miscellaneousrnprotections, such as the requirement that the staterndelineate precisely what he or she is said to liae done andrnwhen and where this occurred, so that a defense is possible.rnAlso, the actual courtroom setting offers the defendant arnchance to probe and (ideally) disproe the testimony of anrnaccuser, hence the right to confront and cross-examine a witness.rnCentral to this process is the assumption that witnesses arcrnonly to be believed about specifics if thc’ impress the judgernand jury with their credibility For example, what destroyedrnJim Carrison’s original investigations into the JFK assassinationrnwas not so much the specific charges made by an of his witnesses,rnbut the general impression these individuals created inrncourt by their striking manifestations of personality disordersrnand bizarre mental states. Legal alucs therefore require thatrnboth witnesses and their specific charges be tested and proenrnin a public setting.rnTherapeutic values are fundamentalh different, above all inrnthe belief that courts are in the lousiness of enforcing social li-rngiene rather than imposing punishment. It is sound socialworkrnpractice to rcmoe a child from an abusix’c home andrntherapeutically desirable to require incarceration or treatmentrnof a suspected molester or abuser. When a woman allegesrnphysical abuse, it is necessary prevention to order her husbandrnto vacate the home, but this is not penal in nature, anyrnmore than a painful surgical procedure. One does not demandrnconstitutional rights when visiting a doctor, who hasrnonly your best interests at heart; and we do not insist thatrnhospital stays be regulated by statutory sentencing guidelines.rnSimilad. the courts have no business regulating the actions ofrnobjectie professionals such as social workers or medical authoritiesrnin seeking to protect children. Once a child has beenrnled to state that al)use has occurred, or once therapists interpretrnhis or her responses in such a way, the “Believe the Children”rntheory comes into operation. Abuse has occurred, andrnto doubt this fact is to ignore the sufferings of innocent childrenrnand to become, in effect, an aceompliee to the act ofrnabuse.rnChild abuse cases begin with the assumption that crimernhas occurred and that remedial action must be taken. An allegedrnmolester is assumed to be guilty, een if this cannot bernproen in court, and social service agencies ]5roceed on this belief.rnIt is therefore permitted and even desirable to record arnsuspected abuser’s name and particulars on a state-controlledrnregister. Depending on the jurisdiction, this damaging recordrnwill remain on the books for several ears, e’en if court proceedingsrnresult in acquittal. Appearance on such a register carriesrnno appeal or redress, not even through the law of libel: afterrnall, this is the world of social hygiene, not law.rnIn the courtroom, “Belieye the Children” means that judgernand jury are no longer expected (e’en in theory) to be neutralrnbetween accuser and accused. The court exists to assistrnthe child victim secure justice against the abuser, for there isrnno longer any doubt about the guilt of the accused. Defensernlawers, in this view, are cynical thugs who aim to discreditrnbrutalized children by badgering them on the .stand, reducingrnthem to sobbing wrecks b’ leading them into foolish misstatementsrnand apparent contradictions. The main priority ofrnreform is to prevent innocent victims from suffering furtherrntrauma in the court itself, to reduce the “jeopardy of childrenrnon the stand.”rnMeasures taken in this direction range from the mild andrnsensible to tlie breathtaking and grossly unconstitutional.rnSome states, for example, suggest tliat small children shouldrnnot be forced to confront their alleged abuser, as in testify inrnfront of the accused. This might mean testifying from behindrna screen or else from a remote location by means ofrn ideotape. Others have gone much further, reducing or abolishingrnprotections against hearsay evidence. In some cases, arnjudge w ill examine a toddler and find that he or she is easilyrnled to testify to anything demanded b a friendly grown-up.rnThe child is therefore declared incompetent to testify, whichrnshould logically mean that all evidence from this source is regardedrnas tainted and inadmissible. In the new environment,rnhowever, the opposite conclusion is reached. If a child is incompetent,rnhis or her testimony is pro ided by “experts” reportingrnwhat they gleaned in conversations with the cliild.rnFor the defendant, the presentation of evidence in this mannerrneffcetiv el destroys the right of cross-examination and an inx’aluaJ^rnle chance to demonstrate flaws or contradictions in thernprosecutor’s case. Naturally, sober professionals report wliatrnthe believe to be relevant and do not recount tales of magic,rntunnels, and fbing machines. Even when a child graciouslyrnmakes a personal appearance, some jurisdictions have attemptedrnto restrict cross-examination of these voung witnessesrnor to eliminate it altogether.rnIn the long conflict between legal and therapeutic values,rnchild abuse cases have served as a massive bridgehead for thernnotion of the “objective expert,” the neutral professional whornis seeking to protect the child and the community in the facern22/CHRONICLESrnrnrn