Here there be monsters: The public's perception of paedophiles with particular reference to Belfast and Leicester
McCartan, K. (2004) Here there be monsters: The public's perception of paedophiles with particular reference to Belfast and Leicester. Medicine, Science & the Law, 44. pp. 327-342. ISSN 0025-8024
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This research study sought to investigate the public perception of paedophiles. It was undertaken in Belfast (Northern Ireland) and Leicester (England) in an attempt to determine whether or not regional variations existed in relation to the public’s perception of paedophiles. In doing this, the study sought to test four hypotheses; (1) That the press affects the public’s perception of paedophiles; (2) that the public’s perception of paedophiles is not congruent with legal and clinical definitions; (3) that the Sarah Payne case has helped to reinforce the public’s perception of a predatory paedophile; and (4) that the public’s perception is based on fear and irrationality. These hypotheses were tested via the distribution of a questionnaire to an opportunistic sample on the streets of Belfast and Leicester. Although the results did not support the hypotheses, they did yield some very interesting information. The study indicated that the public is quite well-informed about paedophilia; its recurrence rates, practices and in particular the influence of the media. Furthermore, the study indicated quite significant differences between the cities of Belfast and Leicester. In conclusion, the results indicated that a moral panic connected to paedophilia is very present in our contemporary society.
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