This continued belief in a dangerous myth is no surprise to me since the successful prosecution of any type of sex crime can be derailed by any number of dangerous myths which allow sexual predators to be seen as people who haven't done anything clearly criminal. These myths are designed to prevent victims from speaking up and to prevent people from believing once the victim does speak up.
Shifts in the legal system and public opinion have made it easier to prosecute women who molest boys in their pubescent years, experts say. And cases continue to draw public attention. But those who work closely with victims such as Diana's grandson say rite-of-passage myths still make it hard for many, including jurors, to sympathize with older boys in such cases, who are also less likely to tell parents or police about abusive relationships with older women.
[...] Pam Hobbs, who heads the children's court services program in Harris County district courts, said she's seen police and prosecutors taking underage boys' allegations more seriously in the past decade. Potential jurors, though, are another matter.
[...] When [Richard] Gartner [a psychologist who works with male sexual abuse survivors] started talking to fellow psychologists about the subject in the early 1990s, he said, he got a lot of "blank stares." People thought he was exaggerating the problem. Now, there are national organizations, conferences and online listserves dedicated to the topic.
Besides being useful to sexual predators, these myths are useful to people who want the illusion that there isn't a problem. If they refuse to see the problem then the problem doesn't exist anywhere near them or theirs.
Only it doesn't work that way.
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