IPT Book Reviews

Title: The Politics of Child Abuse in America
Authors: Lela B. Costin, Howard Jacob Karger, and David Stoesz
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 1995

Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
(800) 451-7556
$29.95 (c)

This book, which deals with the dark side of child welfare agencies, was prompted by the ineffective policies of our child welfare services, especially child protection. The authors trace the history of child welfare policy for the past 100 years, ending with the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, and note that, whereas violence toward women results in arrest, violence toward children results in treatment. They predict continuing conflicts between the left and the right as to what is wrong and how to fix, it and observe that the current child welfare policies could not have anticipated the types of problems facing protective services today — hoax calls to hot lines, drug-addicted infants, false memories issues, babies with AIDS, etc. The authors argue for a revolutionary paradigm — a creation of a children's authority, that moves from a mental health approach towards a human-rights-for-children law. Footnotes at the end of each chapter are helpful, and each chapter contains summary conclusions.

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

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