The Politics of Child Abuse in America

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Oxford University Press, Feb 27, 1997 - Social Science - 405 pages
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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 is consuming 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 on the 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, public agencies 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 protection currently 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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Point Loma Naval Base, wouldn't it ?? You knew that I was in a foreign country and that I knew nothing of his " other life ". Your selfish self-protection and drug habit was worth more to you than a little girl's life, I hope you rot in hell. Your words of sorrow to me that you didn't tell me what you had observed, are just like you, meaningless and hollow. I don't even like to mention his name ( the thing that murdered my Christa ) as I am disgusted, angry and very much in pain from what he did to my daughter and always will be and the rest of her family is as well, and time has not healed the wounds, nor will it ever. But I hope that Larry Gene James rots in jail and is never released. He should not ever get to see his former home in Duncan, Oklahoma again. And Inez James, you should also hang your head in shame, along with your daughter, Jan James ( who alleged that she would have my head " blown away like a watermelon with a shotgun " if I didn't assist you in getting bail for him ), money does not buy silence for a child's life and justice for a life so cruelly taken by a thing, he is not even fit to be called a man, and Inez, you took advantage of your husband, Jesse, ( now deceased ) when he was obviously suffering from dementia and had no idea he was in the potential situation of signing away money and property to the bail bondsman ( now deceased as well ) in Union Street, your husband had no idea that his son was even charged with murder, even the bail bondsman knew that. You have no conscience. And you made me accompany you at supposed gunpoint ( you insinuated that you had a gun on me ) to the bondsman and threatened me with also being killed if I did not co-operate in his bail application. You then forced me under the threat, again of death, to accompany you to a motel and stay with you until you returned to Duncan, Oklahoma and that you had " friends " in San Diego that would kill me if I did say anything to the police in regards to your threats. You also had your youngest son, Kenneth, accompany you and he also threatened me in your presence and under your direction and instructions. Only one of your sons assisted me, and to him, I am eternally grateful for his support and help, as he also believed that Larry ( his brother ) had murdered my daughter and would not stand by and see Christa's murder go unpunished. You threw money at me on the corner of Union Street and ( I think ) C Street ( it was the intersection of the San Diego County Jail and Union Street ) and told me " to get the baby a headstone " and that I had to mention his name ( Larry ) on it as the father of Christa, I refused and left your money on the ground. You are just as evil as he is. I hope that you also have passed on and are paying for your evil ways. My daughter had no chance to live her life to her fullest, she was an innocent, trusting child, her life was taken from her by him, so he should not have a chance at ever having some semblance of life in the norm ... he has forfeited that right for now and eternity. And call me bitter, vindictive, whatever ... but anyone who has gone through this hell of having their child murdered will understand how I and the rest of Christa's family feel. He can have such a privileged and protected life in jail with conjugal visits and the all the things that come with it, his " girlfriend " ( he evidently was still seeing her before, during and after our marriage was dissolved and visiting him in jail ) has a lot to answer for as well, so Hazel ( or Margot as you like to call yourself ... as you said it sounds " exotic " ) enjoy your sick and twisted life. She and her sister went into the Anderson Ragsdale Funeral Home in San Diego, attended her viewing ( despite my instructions that they were not allowed to do so and used false names to gain entry but were callous enough to sign her Memorial book ) and re-organised the booklet of Christa's funeral, to our distress and disbelief. And filled it full of 

Contents

Introduction
3
1 The Cultural Landscape of Child Abuse in the United States
13
The Emergence of the Child Savers
46
3 The Decline and Rediscovery of Child Abuse 19201960
82
Rediscovering Child Abuse in the 1960s and Beyond
107
5 The Breakdown of the Child Abuse System
135
The Childrens Authority
171
Index
190
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About the author (1997)

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.

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