Ross Cheit’s The Witch-Hunt Narrative raises a number of complex moral issues. Cheit’s principal purpose is to challenge the belief that our society has overreacted to claims about the sexual abuse of children. Both directly and indirectly, Cheit’s in-depth analysis broaches moral concerns pertaining to the integrity of child abuse allegations, investigations, civil litigation, and criminal prosecution, with an emphasis on the mixed motives of the parties involved in key cases. This article provides an overview of ethical questions pertaining to gathering information from very vulnerable individuals, informed consent, institutional review, protection of research participants, the use of deception and coercion, confidentiality and privacy, reporting research results, and conflicts of interest. In addition, the author discusses the phenomenon of whistle-blowing as it pertains to professionals’ ethical judgments about disclosure of wrongdoing and misconduct. The author outlines key ethics-related concepts, applies relevant moral theory, and explores the implications of the moral issues raised by The Witch-Hunt Narrative for child sexual abuse victims, perpetrators, child welfare and law enforcement professionals, scholars and researchers, and the public at large.
Journal of Interpersonal Violence
Reamer, Frederic G., "A Narrative on the Witch-Hunt Narrative: The Moral Dimensions" (2017). Faculty Publications. 395.