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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: May 2010

Introduction: Constructions, themes and critical tensions

Summary

In writing this book, I have chosen to focus upon two highly sensitive and disturbing phenomena that tend to generate a commonly shared repugnance, matters which our contemporary society has chosen to target as one part of its attempts to protect children from sexual abuse and related acts. Social, medical and legal narratives upon the subject of child sexual abuse abound. However, despite the considerable political, legal and societal concern and media coverage that child pornography and sexual grooming attract, these critical phenomena have not, thus far, been subjected to detailed socio-legal and theoretical scrutiny. Moreover, legal research and literature on child pornography and grooming are, at this point, still fairly sparse. The time is thus ripe for us to engage in a critical analysis and evaluation of the way in which society and law are responding to these subjects. A close analysis of child pornography and grooming is particularly important, since they offer case study exemplars of problems that law and society have sought to tackle to avoid not only actual, but also potential and more remote, harms to children.

However, one of the consequences of the increased legal and societal attention paid to child sexual abuse and related acts over the last few decades is that anyone wishing to carry out critical socio-legal research does so only after much serious thought and with caution.