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Threatened Children

Rhetoric and Concern about Child-Victims

Child abuse, incest, child molestation, Halloween sadism, child pornography: although clearly not new problems, they have attracted more attention than ever before. Threatened Children asks why. Joel Best analyzes the rhetorical tools used by child advocates when making claims aimed at raising public anxiety and examines the media’s role in transmitting reformers’ claims and the public’s response to the frightening statistics, compelling examples, and expanding definitions it confronts. Drawing on a wide range of sources, from criminal justice records to news stories, from urban legends to public opinion surveys, Best reveals how the cultural construction of social problems evolves.

239 pages | 2 line drawings | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1990

Rhetoric and Communication

Social Work

Table of Contents

Tables and Figures
1. The Rise of the Child-Victim
2. Rhetoric in Claims about Missing Children
3. The Numbers Game: Statistics as Claims
4. Definition, Typification, and Domain Expansion
5. Network News as Secondary Claims
6. Popular Culture as Secondary Claims
7. Fears and Folklore
8. Concern and Public Opinion
9. Competing in the Social Problems Marketplace
Appendix: Recent Fiction about Threats to Children

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