We Believe the Children: The Story of a Moral Panic by Richard Beck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The stories behind this book are the reason why when I take a position at a K-12 school, I have to get fingerprinted. They're also the reason why preschools are now regulated. And yet they're not as discussed as they could be, particularly when we talk about modern day witch hunts (usually during discussions of The Crucible or the HUAC hearings). Why is that?
Beck does a wonderful job of placing the McMartin, Michaels, Jordan and other trials in context, discussing the false memory syndrome, Sybil and Michelle as well as Freud's theories as he talks about the trials and their progress or lack thereof (McMartin being the longest trial in US history). It's clear that not only must the children be believed, but evidence (real evidence) wasn't necessary and that the prosecutors, therapists and others were seriously blinded by their career needs.
A truly frightening book, one that reminds us how quickly hysteria can spread and common sense vanish when a "threat" presents itself.
ARC provided by publisher.