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Historical child sexual abuse in England and Wales: The role of historians

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-429
Number of pages19
JournalHistory of Education
Issue number4
Early online date9 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2016


This article reflects on methodological and ethical issues that have shaped a collaborative project that aims to chart social, legal and political responses to child sexual abuse in England and Wales across the twentieth century. We discuss the etymological problem of searching for child sexual abuse in the historical archive given that the term itself is a relatively recent one. Acknowledging that our research tools will always be partial, we then focus on the gaps and silences in the archive, most problematically in relation to the voices and experiences of victims and survivors themselves. Finally we discuss ethical issues relating to the naming or anonymising of those accused and convicted (as well as victims and survivors) in the writing up of research findings. Our discussion focuses on two key periods – the 1920s and 1950s – and on education policy, including regulatory procedures for teachers in state and fee-paying schools.

    Research areas

  • child sexual abuse, England, schools, teachers, misconduct, Wales

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