13 January 2008

A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer

  • In the United States, each year, 3 million reports of child abuse are made. Experts believe that the actual number of abuse incidents are 3 times that number.
  • 4 children die every day as a result of child abuse
  • 1/3 of abused children go on to abuse their own children
  • A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds
  • 1 out of 10 children will experience physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Only 1 in 3 adults report child abuse when confronted with an actual situation
  • 1 out of every 7 victims of sexual assault reported to police are under 6 years old
  • Rates of Child Abuse by Race: White = 51%, African American = 25%, Hispanic = 15%
  • Mothers are twice as likely as fathers to be the perpetrator in child abuse
Reading Dave Pelzer's A Child Called "It" brought on a sudden bout of child abuse research. At the end of his book, he mentions that over 3 million reports of child abuse are made each year, and I just couldn't believe it. So I looked it up, and sure enough he wasn't exaggerating. These statistics come from a variety of sources and the statistics range from 1999 to 2003.

The book is Pelzer's recounting of his childhood in hell with a mother who found horrific and torturous methods of abusing him both emotionally and physically. She starves him, beats him, chokes him, gasses him, poisons him, and stabs him. And she does all of this while treating his brothers in a perfectly normal fashion with family dinners and trips to the zoo.

The incidents of child abuse are horrifying, but the real shock for me was the father. While not participating in the actual abuse, the father does not end it either, instead bowing down to the mother's hideous wishes even when she decrees that Dave must eat his own vomit. The father objects, but even without the mother in the room, he makes sure Dave carries out her orders. When I couple that with the teachers and neighbors who knew the abuse was occurring, I have to wonder how this could go on for 8 years. Who could see this and ignore it?

Then I read the statistic that 2 out of 3 adults admit that they don't report child abuse even when they see it. I can understand how sometimes abuse can be missed; if bruises are hidden under clothing, if it is sexual or emotional abuse, etc. But in Dave's case, bruises were obvious, even the stab wound was seen by outsiders long before anyone bothered to get him out of the situation. It is unforgivable, in my opinion, to know that a child is being abused and do nothing. An offense which makes me almost wish for the existence of an actual hell.

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  1. I completly agree with this, it is so scary to think that this is going on for so long, and how his dad promised to, but did nothing to stop it. even when dave went to his father and said his mother stabbed him. all his dad said in reply was why, and you better go do them thin. how can anyone just sit around trying to come up with was to torter her own child. its outrages!! and the fact that she got away with it, was even wirse. to thank that stuff like this is happening to millions of children every day is the wirst rivilation of all.

  2. This book was wrenching -- and must be read. Absolutely searing.


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