By Louise A. Jackson
Baby Sexual Abuse in Victorian England is the 1st precise research of ways that kid abuse was once stumbled on, debated, clinically determined and handled within the Victorian and Edwardian periods.The concentration is put on the kid and his or her adventure of courtroom process and welfare perform, thereby delivering a distinct and significant evaluate of the remedy of youngsters within the court docket. via a sequence of case stories, together with analyses of the felony courts, the writer examines the influence of laws at grass roots point, and demonstrates why this was once a formative interval within the criminal definition of sexual abuse. offering a much-needed perception into Victorian attitudes, together with that of Christian morality, this ebook makes a particular contribution to the historical past of crime, social welfare and the family members. It additionally bargains a necessary critique of present paintings at the heritage of kid's houses and associations, arguing that the inter-personal relationships of kids and carers is a vital region of analysis.
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Extra resources for Child Sexual Abuse in Victorian England (Women's & Gender History)
Finally, the 1885 peak can be tied to the much-publicised raising of the age of consent from 13 to 16 in August of that year. It can be assumed that the prosecution figures do not, therefore, represent any increase in actual crime. The answer lies in shifts in attitudes, responses and behaviour patterns of prosecutors, police and magistrates respectively. These shifts are far from quantifiable and can only be analysed through a close reading of newspaper reports and witness statements. Depositions can provide a useful indication of the way in which responses and experiences were commonly articulated.
Middle-class representations of the labouring classes should not be confused with the experiences of the poor themselves. The court depositions prepared for the Middlesex and West Riding Sessions show that working people did not turn a blind eye to the abuse of their children as Mearns and Shaftesbury suggested. On the other hand, Stead’s myth of the aristocratic impostor, who seduced the daughters of the poor, had very little factual basis. The majority of abuse cases involved complainants and defendants of similar social rank: working class and petite bourgeoisie.
A whole range of both formal and unofficial strategies for dealing with sexual abuse existed within workingclass areas long before either the founding of the NSPCC in 1884 or the moral panic over the abuse of girl children that reached a crescendo in 1885. The number of cases which were tried in court was low even in 1885. Although changes in the law and systems of policing meant that official sanctions were more likely to be used as the century progressed, older informal practices continued to be deployed throughout the period.