Hello everyone! I finished reading the book “The Trauma Myth” yesterday.
I’ve already talked about this book here in another topic, whoever wants to know more about it just look it up, and also @Meagan wrote a very good review about it, in one of Prostasia’s newsletters (again just look it up if you want). In general I really liked the book, but there was something that made me thoughtful.
At one point, Susan Clancy(the author) argues that CSA prevention programs, such as sex ed, naming bodie parts, teaching about “good touch/bad touch”, isn’t actually very effective and it doesn’t help preventing CSA.
Since I got into these issues involving CSA prevention, I’ve always seen everyone argue(including experts) that these types of programs were very important and necessary and always agreed and believed that. However, Clancy’s arguments sounded pretty reasonable to me and now I’m in doubt. I believe that @Meagan and @terminus already read this book, but that probably isn’t the case for most people here. So I’m going to leave the excerpt from the book Which she argues about here. And now I ask, what do you think? Do you agree with it or not? Do you partially agree? Were you in doubt by these arguments? I’m really curious to know!
QUOTE from “The Trauma Myth” by Susan Clancy:
“The implications of accepting the truth about sexual abuse for prevention purposes are crystal clear. Most prevention programs today target children; they focus on teaching potential victims to protect themselves and ward off perpetrators. They do not work very well; indeed, we’ve seen many of these programs in schools today, and kids are still being abused at startling rates.23 The concepts and strategies they would need to be taught are too developmentally complex. Even if children can be taught to develop an understanding of sexual behavior (for example to differentiate between “good touch” and “bad touch”), we should not assume that this means they can act on this knowledge when faced with a confusing situation with a perpetrator. 24 Responding appropriately is not only associated with social reasoning but also with the complexity of the task. Perpetrators do not announce, “I’m here to touch your private parts”; rather they disguise and conceal the sexual nature of the activity (for example, by presenting it as hygiene) or encourage the child to think of the activity as mutual (“This is what people who love each other do”).25 In short, the unfortunate combination of childhood cognitive and developmental vulnerability and the presence of a perpetrator who will seize opportunities to exploit this vulnerability renders prevention programs targeting children largely ineffective. As one experts sums it up, “Neither evaluation research nor knowledge about cognitive and social development gives any reason to believe that sexual abuse education programs targeting children are effective in preventing abuse.”26 Given that the situations they will confront will likely be too complicated for them to learn to grasp, it is unfair to expect them to. Consider the following anecdote: My friend read a book called Good Touch Bad Touch designed to teach children about sexual abuse. Her seven-year-old daughter understood every word, and they talked about what the book meant. The next week they went to the doctor. The girl had been having abdominal pains, and her mother worried it might be a urinary tract infection. The doctor tried to examine the child’s genitals, but she would not let him. The mother became frustrated: “Sweetie, he is a doctor. He is someone you trust. He is allowed to touch you.” “But Mommy,” the girl explained, “I don’t like it. It feels like bad touch. I’m confused.” Her confusion makes sense. Her mother was confused too. How should she respond? The adult finds it confusing to describe the difference between sexual and nonsexual touching, between people who are safe and people who are not (and in my opinion this distinction is not even possible in cases of sexual abuse). Can you imagine what it is like for children? How vulnerable they must feel? How confusing the situations they are so often put in become? Given this, it is not surprising that most existing programs for sexual abuse prevention do not work. As one scholar explains, “It is hard to consider these programs as prevention. . . . They are palliative at best.27”
Sources the author used:
23-D. Finkelhor, N. Asdigian, and J. Dziuba-Leatherman, “Victimization Prevention Programs for Children: A Follow-up,” American Journal of Public Health 85 (1995): 1684-89; R. M. Bolen, “Child Sexual Abuse: Prevention or Promotion?” Social Work 48 (2003): 174-85.
24- D. Finkelhor, N. Asdigian, and J. Dziuba-Leatherman, “The Effectiveness of Victimization Prevention Instruction: An Evaluation of Children’s Responses to Actual Threats and Assaults,” Child Abuse and Neglect 19 (1995): 141-53
25-S. K. Wurtele and C. L. Miller-Perrin, Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: Sharing the Responsibility (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992); J. L. Olsen and C. S. Widom, “Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect,” Applied and Preventive Psychology 2 (1993): 217-29; Burkhardt and Rotatori, Treatment and Prevention of Childhood Sexual Abuse; D. Finkelhor and D. Daro, “Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse,” in The Battered Child, eds. M. E. Helfer, R. S. Kempe, and R. D. Krugman, 5th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 615-26.
26-G. B. Melton, foreword to Wurtele and Miller-Perrin, Preventing Child Sexual Abuse, ix.
27-Quoted in Bolen, “Child Sexual Abuse,” 174-85