The witch-hunt metaphor (and accusations against residential care workers)

Chris Beckett

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11 Citations (Scopus)


This Critical Commentary examines the widespread use of the metaphor of the witchhunt in relation to child sexual abuse investigations when they are perceived as being unjustified. The use of this metaphor can be seen to be part of a backlash, part of a widespread desire to discredit the evidence that sexual abuse is widespread. However, it is argued here that the metaphor is actually quite apt in the case of the recent wave of convictions of residential care workers, where the methods used have been quite suspect—and genuinely reminiscent in some respects of those used in historic witch hunts. It is suggested that legitimate child protection will ultimately be the loser if this is not addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-628
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2002

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