Letter: Abused children, adult pawns

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The Independent Online
Sir: Judith Travers (Letters, 6 May) is right to remind us that the important question is 'has abuse taken place?' Children may find it hard to be heard on this matter and the more so when they become pawns in the games of adults. Those who appoint themselves as the children's advocates in order to engage in adult controversies for their own purposes distract attention from the children's needs. I have tried to keep the children in the centre of my study.

Defending her view that satanic abuse is taking place, Beatrix Campbell ('Where Satan goes unseen', 4 May) has accused me of promoting paedophilia. The accusation is made by suggestion and innuendo: the only evidence offered is a letter written to the Child Abuse Review and a telephone conversation from which Ms Campbell has selected one remark which, quoted out of context, suits her purpose.

As regards the first, I recently (March 1994) protested against a one-sided Review of Literature on Organised Abuse. I drew attention to the omission of eight works, including the standard work by Spencer and Flin, The Evidence of Children. I also pointed out that the review relied on American cases, and referred to published material on European cases. With respect to Rossen I wrote:

B. Rossen has published on child prostitution and pornography in Europe and his article 'Mass hysteria in Oude Pekela' gives a different view of the best- known Dutch case from that presented by the Jonkers (special issue of Child Abuse and Neglect 1991).

Ms Campbell fails to mention that I told her that I had had a 'row on paper' with Mr Rossen over his views on child abuse, which I emphatically do not share.

Yours faithfully,

J. S. LA FONTAINE

London School of Economics

London, WC2

6 May

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