Dolls, Dogmas and Incest

by Emily Flynn.

Is it possible that incest between father and daughter is as wide-spread as recent activity would suggest? Or is it simply a matter that some child-protectors in the process of “believing the child” – are believing a lot of unproven nonsense. In the past three years hundreds of New Zealand fathers have been called into the Family Courts accused of sexually abusing their children. In some cases no doubt the allegations have been correct. But there’s a growing sense of unease about whether many of these accusations stem from misinterpreting a child, and using unscientific methods to support those misinterpretations.

An example to ponder is a sex abuse affidavit filed in Wellington’s Family Court on the 24th of August 1988. It disclosed that a five year old girl and her seven year old sister were at the centre of what sounds like a bizarre sex scandal. The five year old ‘revealed’ in a disclosure interview that she and her sister regularly crawled under their father’s blanket and sucked his erect penis. The girl ‘said’ they did it because they loved to. The father in turn did strange things. He urinated in the bath while they watched. The five year old “disclosed” she’d looked on as her father engaged in sex with her sister … The affidavit was particulary concerned about what the older sister “disclosed” related to an approach by her father in the night. The way it was pieced together, it appeared the seven year old said he’d wake her in the night, demand she turn on the light and get articles of clothing out of the wardrobe for his unclad body.

This affidavit was the start of a legal struggle which, breaking all records, became the longest case ever heard in a New Zealand family court. It took up 35 court days and from the time of application, stretched over eight months. It cost the father 75 thousand dollars and the public purse many times that amount. This case became more than just one father arguing against his accusors… it became a battle between sex abuse specialists and the court itself. More important than the particular case at hand was the weight courts could be made to give controversial expert evidence.

The aims of ensuring that not a single sexually abused child remains in a potentially dangerous situation is directly at odds with the aim of ensuring that not a single ‘innocent’ family is destroyed. Until recently, the abused child has been the loser in this battle. Now it looks as though the reverse is happening.

Just as any intelligent protest orgainization would do, those who wished to bring the issue of child sex abuse to the public’s attention went about making their case as strong as possible. However, the danger started when most of those who work in the [industry] were the ones who swallowed the bogus statistic that “one in four ” or even “one in three” girls are sexually abused.

It is this belief – that sexual abuse is endemic – which lies behind the suggestibility of child abuse workers and their assumption that every playground whisper has revealed a crime. Far from being a merely academic quibble over numbers – the overblown statistics serve to guide, colour and direct all observations made in individual cases. It means seeking ways of corroborating suspicion rather than ways of investigating it.

Almost from the start playing fast and lose with statistics seems to have been the hallmark of those espousing this cause. One key New Zealand player is Christchurch psychiatrist Karen Zelas. Starting as a public speaker, Zelas has been the country’s leading figure on the issue of child sex abuse since the early 80’s. She helped found the National Advisory Committee on the Prevention of Child Abuse (along with Plunket Society’s Dr. David Geddis) in 1981, and sat on the Sexual Abuse Working Party in 1986. It is almost impossible to peel back more than a few layers in any case of child sex abuse either in Christchurch or Wellington without finding Zelas involved at some level. The most active sex abuse workers in both those cities turn to her for assistance when their efforts start coming unstuck in court.

In October 1983, Zelas announced in the Christchurch papers her desire to set up the fourth child protection team in the country. When it did form she became and remained its chairman until stepping down only a few months ago (March). Towards the end of 1984, Zelas spent 2 and a half months overseas on a McKenzie Education Foundation grant. Additional support came from the Department of Social Welfare so she could develop guidelines for handling suspected cases of sexual abuse in the family. While being financed by these grants, Zelas collated the background material for developing the guidelines, including a definition of sexual abuse, and its prevalence. On her return she told the press: “United States figures indicate that 38-percent of women had been sexually abused by the time they reached 18 years … There’s no reason to believe it’s any different in New Zealand … about half of the cases are perpetrated by a family member, mostly the father or stepfather …” This was spelled out in more detail in a written report:

DEFINITION; Sexual abuse comprises any sexualized contact between a child and adult (or significantly older or more powerful person). It includes genital fondling of child and/or adult, oral-genital or genital-genital contact including vaginal and anal intercourse.

PREVALENCE; No reliable NZ statistics. Generally stated as being 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys. Maybe as high as 1 in 3 girls by age 18 (Russell, 1983).

Already there is a problem. The definition chosen by Zelas is what is called in the trade “serious” sex abuse. However, she has immediately after that taken Russell”s statistics for ALL sex abuse rather than the more serious type suggested in the above definition. The one in three figure includes touching from anyone, including dates, and even husbands!

Zelas’ treatment of WHO the molester is follows the same pattern. From Finkelhor she picks out the statistic that 75-90 percent are known to the victim. But she doesn’t cite Finkelhor’s statistic that less than one percent of molesters are fathers (this includes step-fathers). Nor does she cite Russell again at 5 percent. Instead she cites a non-random case study report by Mrazek – with the figures of 30 – 40-percent being family members and half of those being the biological father.

Making sex abuse ‘relevent’ to the wider community may be an effective persuasive device, however, it does raise the question of whether those actively engaged in special interest persuasion belong in the courtroom as expert witnesses. Zelas is regulary called into court to pass judgement on – or patch up – the disclosure interviews carried out by others. These interviews follow the pattern and policy Zelas herself has been advocating, and are frequently the- efforts of those she has trained or worked with. These techniques are at best controversial and to call an the leading advocate of – a controversial method as the main expert witness confirming its validity seems more than a little inappropriate.

Taking the family implicated in the affidavit as an example, this is how a disclosure interview can suddenly explode into a family’s life:

About four years ago, the wife of Andrew Traveller had a breast removed because of cancer. Despite the progress of the disease she remained spirited and active almost to the end. According to her children’s senior teacher, she made sure her two girls were well informed about the basics of sex and had some appropriate books in the house. Towards the end, when the older child was seven and the younger five, Andrew’s parents came out from England and moved into the house to help out. When a number of his wife’s relatives decided to make a special trip to New Zealand for their last good-bys, Andrew’s parents returned to England with the intention of eventually returning again, perhaps permanently. Andrew’s wife made plans for her family to see the sights. While they were travelling she suddenly needed to enter hospital. A relative stayed with her and she insisted everyone else return to Wellington as planned – Andrew was expected back at work – she’d join them later. Soon after, two police officers appeared at Andrew’s work place. His wife had died in hospital they told him.

Andrew employed a woman to look after the children daily until he came home, usually late in the evening. The five year old spent a great deal of time outside school at a neighbour’s house. The neighbour has small children, including a baby boy. “Lisa practically lived at my place,” she says. “It was as though the baby filled the hole left when her mother died. She liked to watch when I breast fed the baby – but took a special interest whenever I changed his nappy. She was intrigued and always wanted to help. Before I’d put a fresh nappy on, we used to both blow on his tummy and she loved it when he’d laugh and enjoy the game. Lisa is a great chatter-box, she always likes to be centre stage.”

One day at school, Lisa said to a friend in the course of her chattering that she’d sucked on her father’s penis. The friend told her mother, and her mother informed Social Welfare. After the interview with Lisa police picked up Andrew for questioning.

Andrew says when he saw the police arrive at his place of work, he KNEW one of his girls was dead. It was the same thing that had happened when he was told of his wife’s death. But the police refused to tell him why he was to come with them. “You know why” was all they would say. “I was a wreck by the time I got into the police car. At the police station they questioned me for two hours and then said they wouldn’t be bringing any charges. But Welfare wouldn’t let go.”

The disclosure interviews were carried out by a registered clinical psychologist. In the same room, acting as a witness, was the school’s senior teacher. This was the 74th sexual abuse interview the psychologist had carried out in the past three years. She trained in Christchurch, has been a Counselling Coordinator for HELP, supervised other counsellors in a further 88 cases, and helped organise the Wellington Sexual Abuse Team. In 1986 she was a member of the same committee as Zelas advising the District Senior Inspectorate on guidelines on the handling of sexual abuse situations. She was asked to see Lisa as part of a consultation of the Wellington Sexual Abuse Team (made up of the Police, the Department of Social Welfare., and Wellington Sexual Abuse Help Foundation).

The psychologist opened with a brief familiarisation, and introduced the word “yucky” on two occasions related to touching. The session then proceeds quickly to drawing and naming parts of naked bodies .. leading to a male penis:

INTERVIEWER: So tell me about when you’ve seen Dad’s penis.

LISA: When I was under the covers I used to suck it .. like when I was a baby.

INTERVIEWER: So what happened when you used to suck Dad’s penis?

LISA: He used to laugh.

INTERVIEWER: We need to talk a bit about this Lisa because we might need to help you with this .. so see these dolls over here – those dolls are special dolls because they’ve got all their body parts and I wonder if one of those dolls could be Dad and one of them could be you and you could show me what happens. What will we start off with .. are you in bed or is Dad in bed or are both of [you] in bed?

At this point Lisa demonstrates the girl doll bending over the male doll then bouncing on him, then bouncing on the bed, then other things and has to be brought back into the ‘interview’.

The interviewer suggests taking off Dads clothes.

Next Lisa and the interviewer undress all the dolls. Lisa remarks that the male doll has a penis but asks “what’s that?” referring to the pubic hair. To a question, Lisa answers that her father doesn’t have hair there. This remark is one of the many inconsistencies which doesn’t make it to the main body of the affidavit. (Others include the non-existant second story of a single storied house the events were meant to take place in.)

INTERVIEWER: So when you suck Dad’s penis is it up like that … or down like that?


Once the dolls were undressed, Lisa worked through almost every permutation of possibilities with the dolls, but persistently said her father never asked her to do anything, never asked her not to tell anything, and that he was asleep when she had crawled under the blankets. This gets reported in the affidavit as: “Lisa described several incidents of sexual activity with her father in explicit and full detail. She described and consistently demonstrated with the dolls incidents in which she put her mouth on the erect penis of her father while they were both unclothed in his bed.”

We are exhorted by child protectors to believe children when they say they are being sexually abused. However, this seems a far cry from a child claiming she’s been abused. It seems instead what we are being asked is to believe the interpretation of ‘experts’ who make the claim on a child’s behalf.

Lisa’s older sister Amanda is interviewed next. A drawing she made of her family is used as evidence of abuse because she used a dark double line to show the fly on her father’s trousers. Amanda described the picture as all of them cheering …. but the psychologist disagreed. She insisted raised arms are a sign of submission.

The Incriminating Drawing

The Incriminating Drawing

No matter how often and in how many ways Amanda is asked, she denies any sexual encounter with her father, or knowing of any sexual encounters between her sister and her father. However, much is made of a Wardrobe Incident. When asked “what don’t you like doing with Dad?” she offers such things as not liking being made to eat or change into more appropriate clothes. Pressed further she says “I don’t like getting up in the night and turning the light on when he tells me to.”

INTERVIEWER: So I was wondering if you could tell me what else happens when he does that, when he gets you to turn the light on.

AMANDA: He also asks me to get his slippers and he asks me to get some of his clothes out [of the wardrobe] but he only asks me to get his underwear and socks.

INTERVIEWER: Right, so when adults wake kids in the middle of the night, they sometimes do things to them that they don’t like, and some of those things could be scarey or make kids feel uncomfortable or YUCKY or something like that. Does anything like that happen when Dad wakes you up?

AMANDA :No. I feel like a ghost’s touching me.

INTERVIEWER: Right, so what does the ghost do?

AMANDA: UMMM he calls my name.

Amanda’s failure to disclose any sexual relationship between herself and her father was interpreted as wariness in the affidavit: “This caution and thoughtfulness is not usual in a child of seven years. …When I attempted to draw Amanda out on areas of concern, she was unable to provide any plausable answer, for example – why her father would wake her in the middle of the night to get his clothes out of the wardrobe.”

This event IS rather mysterious. At this stage, someone on the sexual abuse team, out of sheer curiosity might have asked the father to explain this peculiar behaviour. But getting at the truth has clearly taken second place to getting at Dad. It seems there is no wardrobe in Amanda and Lisa’s bedroom. Andrew says he can remember Amanda wandering into his room in the early hours one morning. He asked if she had to use the toilet. She was still half asleep. He told her to turn on his light and throw him some underwear from his wardrobe. He did this because he doesn’t sleep with pyjamas and wanted to put some clothes on before taking her to the toilet and putting her back to bed. But believing that would undo the suggestion of fetishistic behaviour.

Convinced they had stumbled onto a hotbed of incest, the team decided Andrew had to move out of the house. He immediately recalled his parents from England. But Welfare refused to let the girls stay in the house if his parents were there. Andrew believes it was an attempt to get him to confess his guilt. “They said the girls would be put in Welfare care for good if I didn’t own up.” However, outraged neighbours wrote to their M.P. Soon after, Welfare relented and the grandparents moved in with the girls. Andrew was allowed to see them at first two, then four hours a week. For two months the affidavit was kept from him – and while he was left in the dark about what the accusations had been, the child protectors were putting together a case.

The neighbour with whom Lisa spent a great deal of time was never approached. “I would have thought I was an obvious person to talk to. They never talked to Lisa’s teacher either. It was almost as though they were afraid to find anything that would get Andrew off the hook. They’re supposed to care about the girls, but they kicked the grandparents out of the house. I haven’t seen any signs they care about the girls .. only pinning a case on Andrew. They decided he was guilty and that was it. No-one who knows Andrew has the slightest doubt he’s innocent.”

Also sceptical is the senior teacher of the school Lisa and Amanda attend. She was present for the interview with Lisa and has a very different view of the significance of what was ‘disclosed’.

“I thought there were some glaring inconsistencies during the interview. What particularly struck me was the nonchalant way Lisa responded to the questions. She’s really an emotional child, she cried a lot when her mother died, and when she heard my husband had died she crawled under a table. Yet when answering questions about whether this or that happened, she answered in an off-hand way. I thought she seemed at a loss for an answer and was pulling recollections of two or three unrelated events in an attempt to fall in with the conversation. You’d think she’d show some distress – or something other than being so matter of fact if such traumatic things had happened to her. Then there were other things which contradicted sexual abuse. There were lots of things that didn’t make sense. And then her reaction after the interview didn’t fit in with a child who had just revealed a deep secret. When she went back to the classroom she called out: “I’m exhausted. I’ve just been talking and talking about penises and vaginas.”

“I think the woman who did the interview was very sincere, and I know that some children are sexually abused. We had a case at school recently, although it wasn’t a father involved. That child’s behaviour change was very noticeable. She became desperate and terrified. I don’t know much about law, but it seems to me it would have been a good idea to talk to teachers and neighbours to get an idea of other reasons why Lisa said what she said to her friend. Maybe it could have all been sorted out with explanations. At school, we’re all amazed it was taken so far. We often compare it to the Lindsey Chamberlain case in Australia. You suddenly realise it can happen to anyone … and there’s no defending yourself.”

Was she called as a witness? “I was called on briefly at the start. But there’s a lot more I wished I could have said. Like the sort of things I hear small children talking about on the playground. With everything that’s on T.V. and videos, ideas get spread around that would have been unthinkable ten years ago. There’s been a real change.”

Although the senior teacher had only a brief appearance as a defence witness, Zelas had been called up from Christchurch and remained in the Courtroom weeks at a time. In theory she acted as an impartial critic of the techniques used by the interviewers but according to Andrew, it was like asking the Pope to criticise Catholicism.

For the most part, these techniques derive from therapy procedures which were never intended to be used as courtroom evidence. One exception is the Victim Impact Report which has developed specifically for the courts, but from the perspective of prosecution. Although they are supposed to be a balanced view of the child’s risk, in reality they are prepared almost entirely as a prosecution document. Everything is done to maximise the possibility of, and the impact of, alleged abuse. At the same time what is minimised is the impact of depriving a particular child from its parent or home .. or carrying into adulthood the burden of being responsible for all the consequences.

Dressed up as a caring document prepared in the child’s interest … the report is more likely to be a one-eyed attack on the defendent. But at least it smacks of the familiar, and so carries a respectability and credibility beyond its true value. The person defending himself against these accusations has no similar store of ammunition to call on. As a consequence in a Family Court setting the judge is in the unenviable position of sitting between the “experts” with their never-ending list of untested hypotheses, and the accused who is bereft even of fine sounding psycho-babble. Thus a father who clearly – even to the psychologist – cannot remember abusing his daughter will be struck dumb upon learning he suffers from RETROSPECTIVE AMNESIA

Lying – Remembering – and Suggestibility

Occasionally there is unequivocal physical evidence of sexual abuse. There will be tearing or scarring, or the presence of certain sexually transmitted disease which cannot be explained in any other way. But according to some sex abuse ‘experts’, this only accounts for a tiny proportion of sexually abused children and there is seldom any physical evidence of sexual abuse. Quasi-medical evidence such as the diameter, or laxity of the anus, hymen and vagina have been discredited.
Many cases do not involve allegations of penetration in the first place. Consequently, often the only evidence is the child’s own word. In the past children were almost never believed – even when there was unassailable physical evidence. Then the pendulum swung the other way, and anything whether said by a child, or a parent in a custody case, or proclaimed by a child-helper on’ behalf of the child, was to be believed.

A considerable amount of cold water was thrown on this blind faith when recently in Jordan Minnesota mass hysteria swept through a school. Children accused parents and teachers alike of every sort of sexual deviation including cannibalism. Before sanity was restored and charges dropped, many children had been removed from their homes. Since then other reports, including some from Australia, of false accusations have become known. Jordan was a blow to those who had been saying children never lie about being sexually abused … and a bigger blow to the credibility of disclosure techniques.

Those caught up in the debate are quick to turn on each other in these situations. Psychologist, and prominent American sex, abuse researcher Gail Goodman blames incompetent interviewers for the Jordan disaster. In New Zealand we were treated to the same reaction following a Frontline programme showing a Christchurch family which had been dragged through the Family Courts. Their daughter who is suffering from a progressive brain disease was being treated for behaviour disorders in Ward 24 of Christchurch Hospital. One day she rolled some play dough, called it a wee-wee …. chopped a piece off and put it in her mouth. That was the act which triggered hours of disclosure interviews and a traumatic Family Court case for the family. The evening after the programme was first broadcast, Paul Holmes interviewed the Minister of Social Welfare, Michael Cullen, who blamed the POLICE – saying Welfare never wanted to pursue the case. The police in Christchurch do have a reputation for being red-eyed about possible sex- abuse. Two fathers questioned by them report they were asked why (in one case) he didn’t shoot himself, and in another case – hang himself. The police are showing a great deal of interest in this particular type of crime – setting up a national network of sex abuse teams, and developing teaching units, including videos, to be taught straight through the standards.

In the newspapers a flurry of Child Protection Team advocates claimed (echos of Goodman) it all was the result of untrained interviewers .. and it never would have happened if a team of professionals had been on hand. But according to the mother of that child, the disclosure interviews were approved at a Ward meeting attended by a number of professionals, including the head of the ward at that time, who was also a psychiatrist on the Child Protection Team. The interviews were carried out by nursing staff and gained the team’s full approval. The mother says when one of the social workers on the team expressed some reservations, the police member objected, asking the parents to leave the room. By the time they returned the social worker had knuckled under. An inquiry is being called into the activities of the Ward, which funnels a fair number of children through to the Family Court following disclosure interviews using dolls and drawings.

Dr. Les Ding from Sunnyside Hospital has investigated allegations of professional misconduct and mishandling in alleged child sexual abuse cases. However, this was a futile exercise as the important question is not whether those who use the techniques have sufficient paper credentials … or whether they are using the techniques in the recommended way … but whether the techniques themselves are reliable. Ward 24 is only one of many places in New Zealand .. or Christchurch for that matter, treating these techniques as gospel. An awareness that children are sometimes molested by a parent (the consensus of ALL recent scientific surveys puts the rate under one percent) does not justify spinning a web so sticky that it traps the innocent along with the guilty.

When then, can we believe children? The first question is how well do children remember? A survey of the literature by Goodman says children do have more fleeting memories than adults and they are more suggestable. But she says studies show if they are questioned soon after the event, and aren’t asked leading questions, it seems their testimony on the salient aspects of an event are about as good as an adult’s. Goodman points out that children’s suggestibility is used by prosecution lawyers to discredit a child witness. She speculates that mildly leading questions wouldn’t have the same suggestive effect, but does not back this up with any evidence.

Those working in the area of disclosures complain that children aren’t believed unless they can give peripheral and specific details. Yet, others say without any physical evidence, reports of abuse can only be differentiated from fantasies by the victim’s ability to give very specific detail about what took place. For example without prompting or leading questions a three and a half year old had this disturbing story to tell a social worker in Michigan about her step-father: “First he undressed me, then himself. He put two fingers in me, one in the front and said he was making white sugar and one in the back and said he was making brown sugar. He rubbed his bottom when he did it.” While relating the story, the girl was visibly upset.

In brief, stories from young children related soon after an event, told without prompting and which are specific and unique in detail must be taken seriously. Because the child’s emotional state is also significant, a video-tape of all interviews should be available to the courts along with a written transcript.

Anatomically Correct Dolls

Anatomically correct dolls, or dirty dolls as they are known to parents who have come to the attention of child-protectors in Christchurch, are the staple diet of disclosure interviews. Practice notes from a Canadian child welfare consultant and used by disclosure workers in New Zealand suggest the following attributes:

“It is strongly felt that all openings for mouth, anus, vagina, pubic hair, and genitalia should be accurately and appropriately placed on the doll. Adult male dolls should have pubic hair, penis, scrotum and perhaps hair on the chest and the underarms. Adult female dolls should have medium sized breasts including nipples, and pubic hair. It is essential that we duplicate as accurately as possible the human anatomy. If possible the mouth should have a tongue, teeth and the dolls should have ears.”

In the practice notes’ conclusions a warning is made: “The dolls constitute only one of many potential tools and are not guaranteed of investigative assessment and treatment success”.

“Not being guaranteed of assessment success” is something of an understatement. About 20 studies have been made on the reliability of using dolls, and all but three are utterly damning. Of these three, the most popular among prosecution lawyers in the United States is an article by Goodman and Aman which will soon be in print. (It has made the rounds following a presentation at a symposium on interviewing children in 1987). In this study children from three to six were left to play with dolls for five minutes each. The conclusion of this article is that there was no INCREASE in “false alarms” from playing with dolls than from other forms of cross-examining. However, what wasn’t brought forward into these conclusions was that the SAME amount of false alarms were present. That is, 25-percent. It is these “alarms” which send people to prison.

On the other side, the study most widely used by defense lawyers is one carried out by Dr. Ralph Underwager. He is a clinical psychologist who many years ago was a pioneer in the field of protecting children from sexual abuse. He says since then he’s seen the whole thing go mad. His article first appeared in an “in-house” journal Issues in Child Abuse Accusation. Since then it has been widely cited in better known journals, translated into foreign languages, and republished in Holland’s answer to Scientific American.

It compares a group of sexually abused children with a randomly selected group. Those randomly selected showed no difference in their play with the dolls than abused children. Children in both groups demonstrated more sexual acts when interviewers encouraged them.

In 1987 the California Appeals Court ruled that testimony based upon the use of dolls was inadmissable. Three weeks ago (End of April 1989) the highest court in Holland said no further evidence from the use of dolls could be admitted in court until questions raised in Underwager’s study had been answered. Delighted with that result, Underwager says the word in Holland is that Dolls are Dead. “I hope New Zealand kills them too. My message is: distrust the use of dolls, hearsay and propaganda aimed at inflaming public opinion. Slogans such as ‘children don’t lie’ and ‘children can’t talk about what they haven’t experienced’ are pure dogma.”

Andrew is back home with his daughters trying to put the eight month court battle behind him. But others haven’t been so lucky.

A Christchurch family which turned to Ward 24 has since been completely ruined. After months of living at the Ward, a deeply disturbed boy screamed incoherently in the night and his disconnected comments included a reference to what could be interpreted as anal sex. Disclosure sessions, including the use of dolls were implemented immediately. A physical examination followed, and showed a “lax” anus. These findings formed the basis of complaint action against the father. Despite thirteen expert witnesses supporting the procedures for disclosure, the court found their evidence unconvincing. Nevertheless, word about the case got out, and the father lost his job. Such was the financial and emotional strain on the family – already stressed beyond endurance by a disturbed child, that it has permanently split up. Since the Court case, the father used the Official Information Act to get his entire Welfare file. He says he discovered favourable reports in it which were never presented at the hearings.

A question which is commonly asked by those who want to know the court’s opinion is – was the father found guilty or not guilty? In a Family Court, the judge only has jurisdiction over the children, not over adults. The view of the court towards the father must be geared indirectly by the living arrangements allowed following a hearing.

Families need to be reassured that ending up in court isn’t a lottery. Those who openly criticise using unproven methods to disclose abuse or interpret behaviour are accused of not caring about children. Certainly, wherever possible any kind of abuse must be stopped either through penalties or education or therapy.

But to make all fathers tentative in their physical relationship with their children because a few abuse their parenting role in a sexual way is a recipe for social disaster.

As the senior teacher at Lisa and Amanda’s school says: “We know there’s a lot of fear about in families, worry about cuddles being misinterpreted. And it’s such a shame – children need such a lot of cuddling.”

Dunedin, June 1989.

JohnP: As Emily mentions in her covering letter, this article did not get published.

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