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"Child Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse": The Emergence of a Problematic Deviant Category

Paul Okami
The Journal of Sex Research
Vol. 29, No. 1 (Feb., 1992), pp. 109-130
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3812693
Page Count: 22
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"Child Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse": The Emergence of a Problematic Deviant Category
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Abstract

This article critically examines the emergence in the professional literature of a new category of criminal deviant: the very young juvenile "sexual offender" ("child perpetrator"). It is argued that current research and writings on "child perpetrators" 1) fail to adhere to established tenets of scientific inquiry; 2) attempt to pathologize species-typical behaviors; and 3) reflect symbolic opposition to widespread sexual license perceived to have resulted from the "sex positive" interpretive changes regarding sexuality that occurred during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Interactionist methods are applied in tracing three decades of interpretive changes regarding sexual behavior as reflected in the content of professional and popular sexological literature from the mid 1960s to the present. It is concluded that the writings on "child perpetrators" constitute an anomalous but predictable development in the field when considered against the background of recent trends in sexual discourse, professional ideology, and the current widespread perception among many Americans that children are no longer safe from harm while engaged in their normal daily activities.

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