2016 Historical child sexual abuse in England and Wales: the role of historians

This paper examines the ethical and methodological concerns that have influenced a joint project that intends to map the social, legal, and political reactions to child sexual abuse in England and Wales over the twentieth century. The etymological conundrum of looking for past records of child sex abuse was highlighted. It then focuses on the gaps and silences in the archive, most problematically in relation to the voices and experiences of victims and survivors themselves, acknowledging that research tools will always be limited. Finally, it covers moral concerns with the identification or anonymization of persons who have been charged and found guilty (as well as victims and survivors) when reporting study findings. The 1920s and 1950s, as well as education, were regarded as the main subjects of discussion.