Are Cultural Changes for Women Behind Drop in Child Sex Abuse?


Is the rise of feminism largely responsible for the decline in child sex abuse, recently reported by the New York Times? So speculates the Grits for Breakfast criminal-justice blog. While cases like Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky and Philadelphia Catholic Church official Msgr. William Lynn get most of the headlines, the overwhelming majority of child-sex abuse occurs in the home, which to Grits for Breakfast indicates it’s being stopped in the home.

Women today are marrying at older ages, and “first-time mothers in the 21st century arguably enter that phase of their life with more maturity and self-confidence that better enables them to defend themselves and their progeny.” Also, more women are having children out of wedlock, often without the father’s involvement. Grits for Breakfast contends that, “Being able to leave the jerk who threatens your kids rather than feeling obligated to co-habitate could have a big preventive effect, eliminating opportunities for abuse on the front end.” The blog suspects that the decline of child abuse4 “signal these sort of deeper cultural changes as much or more than the success of any specific anti-crime policies.”

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