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Richardson, S. (2018). Tackling Child Sexual Abuse: Radical Approaches to Prevention, Protection and Support (2016) by Sarah Nelson, published by Policy Press.. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 12(1):87-90.

(2018). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 12(1):87-90

Tackling Child Sexual Abuse: Radical Approaches to Prevention, Protection and Support (2016) by Sarah Nelson, published by Policy Press.

Review by:
Sue Richardson

Sarah Nelson is a researcher, academic, and journalist who from her base in Scotland has campaigned for many years to highlight the issue of child sexual abuse. She published a ground-breaking book Incest: Fact and Myth (1982, 1987), followed by a number of allied publications, conference papers, and research projects along with media work. All of Sarah's work is characterised by her unique approach which combines clear, accessible writing with sound academic research and advocacy for abused children, adults, and those who support them. An example is Yes, You Can! (Nelson & Hampson, 2008), to equip people working on the front line to respond to adult survivors, published by the Scottish government to whom Sarah has been an advisor.

This book brings together Sarah's work and insights developed over some 30 years or more. This is no mean feat given the extent of her activity during this time. She writes from a feminist perspective which places political, social, and cultural influences and gendered power relations centre stage. Her analysis of persistently unresolved issues such as effective and ethical approaches to child protection is incisive, cutting through persistent myths and confusion, such as those surrounding the high profile cases in Orkney and Cleveland. Her focus is on primary prevention and the need to address the wider context which prevents, inhibits, or fails to sustain progress in tackling abuse, leading to “cycles of discovery and suppression(Olafson et al., 1993).

I found Sarah's analysis of the nature and legacy of the backlash against professionals especially insightful. She writes:

It is time to stop treating CSA and its controversies as some interesting intellectual discussion where everyone shares equal integrity, and treat is as the crime that it is.

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