Handbook of Child Sexual Abuse
|| Tilman Furniss
Routledge, Chapman, and Hall, Inc.
29 West 35th Street
New York, NY 10001
$74.50 (c); $35.00 (p)
This 357-page book is written by a man with 15 years
experience working on the problem of adult sexual abuse of children, mostly in
Europe. American readers may be taken aback by the author's honesty,
particularly in the book's preface. The book is written like a long legal brief
with clearly marked pages and chapters. It covers, briefly, topics such as
sexually abused professionals, experts, preparing court reports, "goodies
and baddies" in the CPS network, court-ordered therapy, sibling sexual
abuse, and Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
The author sets the trend of the book with the statement,
"I have learned that crisis intervention in child sexual abuse begins with
the crisis of the professionals" (p. xiii). He believes that sexual
feelings while working with victims may be crucial and views abuse as more
sexual than physical. He mentions that a hidden resource of information may be
the offender and recommends not prematurely condemning him or her. He notes that
available treatments are generally failures for both victims and offenders.
He supports adolescent sexual rights and deplores the
American professionals' refusal to think in sexual interactional terms as some
Europeans do. He laments the American trend to separate functions and missions
among police, parents, courts, and child protection and states, "(T)he half
blind are talking to the blind" (p. 6).
The author believes that professionals may, unwittingly,
reenact their own sexual abuse on innocent children. He presents four methods
for dealing with conflict and minimizing its destructive aspects in
multi-professional teams: (1) recognizing differences in professional findings,
facts, and reactions; (2) pointing out at each meeting that conflict exist; (3)
welcoming differences of opinion and viewing these differences as wholesome and
needed (no team should be without a Devil's advocate); and (4) recognizing that
professionals who present problems ("baddies") may not be experiencing
a conflict and avoiding scapegoating of these people.
One of the most interesting sections of this book deals with
the pros and cons of male or female therapists. There is much gender-based
folklore around this issue that does not acknowledge child protection staffing
The book has flaws. It relies on clinical samples and there
is no comparative research in terms of ages, gender, or sexual acts. There is no
discussion of accountability for interventions. Nevertheless, this book is
valuable for professionals since it make good suggestions for moving towards a
workable solution for dealing with child sexual abuse.
Reviewed by LeRoy G. Schultz, School of Social Work, West
Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia..