The Politics of Child Abuse in America

Paperback | January 1, 1997

byLela B. Costin, Howard Jacob Karger, David Stoesz

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Child abuse policy in the United States contains dangerous contradictions, which have only intensified as the public slowly accepted it as a middle class problem. One contradiction is the rapidly expanding child abuse industry (made up of enterprising psychotherapists and attorneys) which isconsuming enormous resources, while thousands of poor children are seriously injured or killed, many while being "protected" by public agencies. This "rediscovery" has also led to the frenzied pursuit of offenders, resulting in the sacrifice of some innocent people. Moreover, the media's focus onthe sensational details of high-visibility sexual abuse cases has helped to trivialize, if not commercialize, the child abuse problem. As such, child abuse has gone from a social problem to a social spectacle. By the 1980s the child welfare system had become a virtual "nonsystem," marked by a staggering turnover of staff, unmanageable caseloads, a severe shortage of funding, and caseloads composed of highly dysfunctional families (many with drug-related problems). To make room for these families, publicagencies rationed services by increasingly screening-out child abuse reports which contained little likelihood of serious bodily harm. In The Politics of Child Abuse in America, the authors argue that child abuse must be viewed as a public safety problem. This redefinition would make it congruent with other family-based social trends, including the crackdown on domestic violence. Children must have the same legal protectioncurrently extended to physically and sexually abused women. This can be done by creating a "Children's Authority," which would have the overall charge for protecting children. Specifically, Children's Authorities would have the responsibility for providing the six main functions of child protection:investigation, enforcement, placement services, prevention and education, family support, and research and development. Offering a unique perspective on the cold reality of this crisis, The Politics of Child Abuse in America will be a provocative work for social workers and human service personnel, as well as the general reader concerned with this timely issue.

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From the Publisher

Child abuse policy in the United States contains dangerous contradictions, which have only intensified as the public slowly accepted it as a middle class problem. One contradiction is the rapidly expanding child abuse industry (made up of enterprising psychotherapists and attorneys) which isconsuming enormous resources, while thousands...

From the Jacket

This book is extremely well-written and readable. It is powerful at the same time that it is scholarly and intellectually honest. The author provide a clear, integrated, conceptual historical perspective on the rise of the current child welfare system. They explain the concepts that have guided the system, past and present, and develop...

Lela B. Costin is Professor Emerita at the University of Illinois. Howard Jacob Karger is Professor of Social Work at the University of Houston. David Stoesz is Professor of Social Work at San Diego State University.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 6.14 × 9.17 × 0.51 inPublished:January 1, 1997Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195116682

ISBN - 13:9780195116687

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"...a valuable addition to the scholarly contribution of university-based policy and program analysts and should be required reading for any professional concerned with the development of social policy and programs. Its organizational clarity, contextual precision, and accuracy deserve theattention of anyone interested in the welfare of our children and the future of American society."--The Annals of the American Academy