U.K. STUDY FINDS NO EVIDENCE OF SATANIC ABUSE OF CHILDREN EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS BLAMED FO

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U.K. STUDY FINDS NO EVIDENCE OF SATANIC ABUSE OF CHILDREN EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS BLAMED FOR SPREADING SCARE - by Rosie Waterhouse, _London Independent_. Reprinted _San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle_, April 24, 1994, #A5 LONDON - Satanic child abuse does not exist in the United Kingdom, a government inquiry has concluded. A three-year investigation funded by Britain's Department of Health has found no evidence to substantiate any of the 84 cases in which it was alleged that children were sexually abused during Stanic, "black magic" rites. Similar stories of Satanic abuse first surfaced in the United States in 1983 and have since spread to other countries, including the Netherlands, Norway, and Australia, but no evidence has been found. The official report, which was commissioned in 1991 after children had been snatched from their homes in dawn raids by social workers and police in the northern town of Rochdale and on the Orkney islands off the coast of Scotland, is due for publication next month. It blames the evangelical Christian movement and self- proclaimed U.S. "experts" for spreading the satanic-abuse scare. And it suggests that social workers and others believed in it because involvement with the devil explained why parents could harm their own children, reviving "an age-old myth" of cults controlled by unknown, powerful, and dangerous strangers. Providing the first official definition of Satanic abuse, the report explains: "Rites that allegedly include the torture and sexual abuse of children and adults, forced abortion and human sacrifice, cannibalism, and bestiality may be labeled Satanic or Satanist." "There is no evidence that these have taken place in any of the 84 cases studied," the report said. The report was conducted by Jean La Fontaine, professor of social anthropology at the London School of Economics, an expert on child abuse and on "cults." Professor La Fontaine, who refused to comment on her report until it is published, had access to the files of every police force and social services department that investigated allegations of Satanic ritual abuse in Britain since 1988. Allegations were investigated by police forces from Kent to Strathclyde, including Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Merseyside, but no evidence was found to corroborate the claims. The report attempts to explain how the stories began. "The alleged disclosures of Satanic abuse by younger children were influenced by adults. A small minority involved children pressured or coached by their mothers. "The interviews during this period (1988-91) were frequently poorly conducted. Too-frequent interviewing, leading questions, contamination, pressure, and inducements to agree to suggestions may have resulted from the anxiety of the interviewers to find out what happened." The report also tries to explain how the Satanic abuse scare spread. "The evangelical Christian campaign against new religious movements has been a powerful influence encouraging the identification of Satanic abuse. "Equally, if not more important in spreading the idea of Satanic abuse in Britain are the 'specialists,' American and British. They may have few or even no qualifications as professionals but attribute their expertise to 'experience of cases.' Their claims or qualifications are rarely checked." In some of the cases investigated, the children really had been sexually abused, but treating them as victims of Satanic abuse caused further problems.

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