In the Name of God: A Profile of Religion-Related Child Abuse

Authors

  • Bette L. Bottoms,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Illinois at Chicago
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      BETTE L. BOTTOMS is Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received her B.A. from Randolph-Macon Woman's College and her Ph.D. in social psychology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her research has focused on issues of psychological and legal interest, including the reliability of children's eyewitness testimony and jurors' perceptions of child sexual assault victims. She is co-editor, with Gail S. Goodman, of the book Child Victims, Child Witnesses (Guilford Press, 1993).

  • Phillip R. Shaver,

    1. University of California, Davis
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      GAIL S. GOODMAN received her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from UCLA and is currently professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. She served on JSI‘s editorial board and edited its 1984 issue on child witnesses (Vol. 40, No. 2). She is past president of the American Psychological Association's Division 37 (Children, Youth, and Family Services) and presidentelect of Divison 41 (American Psychology/Law Association); co-winner in 1994 of SPSSI's Robert Chin Award for an article about child abuse; and winner of the Career Research Achievement Award from the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children.

  • Gail S. Goodman,

    1. University of California, Davis
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      JIANJIAN QIN, M. A., is a doctoral student in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Davis. He conducts research on issues related to children's eyewitness memory and testimony.

  • Jianjian Qin

    1. University of California, Davis
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      PHILLIP R. SHAVER received his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Michigan and is currently chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Davis. He has served as editor of the Review of Personality and Social Psychology (Sage Publications) and is co-editor, with John P. Robinson and Lawrence S. Wrightsman, of the SPSSI-sponsored volume Measures of Personality and Social Psychological Attitudes (Academic Press, 1991). His research focuses on human emotions and attachment processes.


Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1007 W. Harrison Street (M/C 285), Chicago, IL 60607–7137. Electronic mail may be sent via Internet to bbottoms@uic.edu.

Abstract

Religious beliefs can foster, encourage, and justify child abuse, yet religious motivations for child abuse and neglect have been virtually ignored in social science research. In this article, we examine cases of religion-related child abuse reported to mental health professionals nationwide. In particular, we describe in statistical detail cases involving the withholding of medical care for religious reasons, abuse related to attempts to rid a child of evil, and abuse perpetrated by persons with religious authority such as ministers and priests. We argue that society should protect children's rights and welfare whenever these are threatened by religious beliefs and practices.

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