Pervasive Perversion: Paedophilia and Child Sexual Abuse in Media/Culture




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Free Association Books



Peer reviewed



During the 1980s discourse concerning child sexual abuse became central to the US/UK media, and in the 1990,s popular culture frequently took child sexual abuse as a subject for representation. Numerous claims of child sexual abuse were made between 1984 and 1994, not all of which were real. Everyday news throughout the 1990s highlighted concerns concerning abduction by paedophiles and children being at risk from predatory paedophiles using the Internet. While the media continually made child sexual abuse a central concern of public debate, popular culture, particularly films, explored this issue in fiction and docudrama. Many of these films reproduced some of the central myths concerning child sexual abuse and paedophilia. Men abusing children, women abusing children, children abusing other children, became staple fodder in mainstream feature films. In 2005 'the most famous person in the world' was again on trial for what is popularly considered to be the most heinous of crimes. Pervasive Perversions analyses a range of media and popular culture texts concerned with child sexual abuse. With sections on new media, fiction film, and celebrity culture, key questions are examined. Why did mass hysteria break out in the 1980s over sexual abuse and continue throughout the final decades of the twentieth century? What was the significance of this phenomenon? How have the constructions and representation of child sexual abuse in the media and popular culture altered? What do these images and narratives convey concerning the understanding of child sexual abuse in the public consciousness? How does this relate to the reality? What is the relationship between celebrity culture and child sexual abuse? The author examines these questions through an extensive evaluation of all forms of media and popular culture and comprehensively unearths and demystifies the key myths of child sexual abuse in contemporary media and popular culture.



children, child sexual abuse, film, media, literature, popular culture, paedophilia


Lee, J. (2005) Pervasive Perversion: Paedophilia and Child Sexual Abuse in Media/Culture. Free Association Books.


Research Institute

Media Discourse Centre (MDC)
Cinema and Television History Institute (CATHI)