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Historians and sociologists have mapped the racial dimensions of the emergent culture of control, with its bloated prison system and far-flung surveillance techniques. This chapter draws out the sexual dimension, emphasizing how the figure of the imperiled child stands at center stage in the national drama. Beginning in the mid-1970s, a succession of modern sex crime panics have redefined childhood, reshaped American social institutions, fostered new forms of identity based on victimization, eroded democratic legal norms, and contributed to the development of a deeply seated culture of fear.

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