Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Abuse, Child Sexual
Child sexual abuse refers to adult sexual contact with children under the legal age of consent. Whereas caretaker neglect and physical violence against children became major social problems during the 1960s, the sexual violation of children by adults became a focus for public concern from the 1970s to the present. In large measure, this resulted from attention generated by feminist activists and scholars concerned with the psychic and physical well-being of young people reared within sexist or male-dominated social environments. Whereas some non-Western societies permit, or even foster, limited ritual sexual contact between adults and young people, in contemporary Western society nearly all forms of sexual interaction between adults and children are thought of as harmful to children, even when children are said to consent to acts of sex with adults. This is because children are materially, socially, and emotionally dependent upon adult caretakers and, as such, are viewed as ...