IPT Book Reviews

Title: Save the Family, Save the Child  Positive Review
Author: Vincent J. Fontana
Publisher: Dutton, 1992

Dutton Children's Books
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014-3657
(212) 366-2000
$22.95 (c) $5.99 (p)


This author needs no introduction to the literature on child abuse, as he has been a well-known physician in the field for over 30 years.  Chapters in this book include crack babies, abandoned children, crisis nurseries, etiology of abuse, traditional families, the Steinberg and DeShaney cases, and the politics of child abuse in the United States.  The book closes with a list of resources for parents and a small section on mandated reporters.  There is no bibliography.


This easy-to-read book is loaded with war stories and individual case histories.  The author condemns our government's lack of concern for helping families when there is child abuse.  The traditional family is the new hero of the 21st century; all without much effective help from government programs.  Although I counted over 250 government programs, families are forced to negotiate the bureaucratic maze with suffering and hardship to get minimal help for themselves and their children.  The federal government's giving responsibility for solving the problems to, the states, given their budget problems, is a mistake.  The book highlights how little effective help has been given to families.

The book presents a clear account of what is wrong with child welfare and child protection.  Its main shortcoming is that it has no discussion of erroneous charges.  Although the examples are from a large urban area and a rich state, the lessons should apply to all areas and states.

Reviewed by LeRoy Schultz, Professor of Social Work, West Virginia University.

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