Please be aware that this episode talks about child sexual abuse. We recommend listening to part one of Satanic Panic first.
In 1980s America, when 60% of people believed that devil worship was a serious problem, two new characters, Stranger Danger’s murderous pedophile and the Satanist, blurred into a new villain and psychological archetype: The Satanic pedophile. In part one, we saw how Satanic hysteria was sown through pop culture, sensational media, and religious hucksters, causing the widespread fear of Satan’s influence over children and their behavior. We touched on the cultural anxieties that were raging during this time, with women beginning careers and leaving kids in daycare for the first time in history, and the Moral Majority pushing fundamentalism into the political sphere.
For part two, Chelsey covers ‘satanic ritual abuse’, the belief that Satanic cults were using daycare centers as fronts to physically, sexually, and emotionally abuse children in horrifying religious rituals allegedly described by the children themselves. This moral panic has been called the Salem Witch Hunt of our modern era, including the longest and most expensive trial in US history, with some of the accused wrongly imprisoned for twenty years. Chelsey will try to understand this shocking moment in our recent history, how something like this could have happened, and the cultural issues it was really about.
American Hysteria is sponsored by Hunt A Killer. For 10% off your first box, head to huntakiller.com/hysteria
For further reading, check out 'We Believe the Children' by Richard Beck.
American Hysteria is written and produced by Chelsey Weber-Smith
Assistant produced by Derrick Smith
Produced and edited by Clear Commo Studios
Show art by Roache
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