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The Politics of Child Abuse in America : Child Welfare - Lela B. Costin

The Politics of Child Abuse in America

Child Welfare

Paperback

Published: 1st July 1997
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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.

"Excellent and provocative."--Choice "Central to the future of a nation is how it treats or allows its children to be treated. No topic in our time is more important than what we as a nation do to protect our children. In the last several decades concern with child abuse has taken center stage. Yet the issue is not child abuse, but how child abuse is defined and addressed. Costin, Karger, and Stoesz examine this issue in detail. Their study is a watershed event in the discussion about child abuse in the United States. "In the long view of history, what is significant, what stands out are voices that identify fundamental and driving issues and develop lines of inquiry which significantly address these issues. This is the strength of The Politics of Child Abuse in America."--Duncan Lindsey, School of Public Policy and Social Research, University of California, Los Angeles and author of The Welfare of Children "This book is extremely well-written and readable. It is powerful and hard-hitting at the same time that it is scholarly and intellectually honest. The authors 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 and overarching interpretive framework that fits the facts well while accounting for how the system has evolved toward the crisis that it is presently in. The authors jump right into today's heated debates, and emerge with their own unique entry to the current field of proposals for restructuring the system."--Leroy H. Pelton, Ph.D., School of Social Work, Salem State College "Excellent and provocative."--Choice "Central to the future of a nation is how it treats or allows its children to be treated. No topic in our time is more important than what we as a nation do to protect our children. In the last several decades concern with child abuse has taken center stage. Yet the issue is not child abuse, but how child abuse is defined and addressed. Costin, Karger, and Stoesz examine this issue in detail. Their study is a watershed event in the discussion about child abuse in the United States. "In the long view of history, what is significant, what stands out are voices that identify fundamental and driving issues and develop lines of inquiry which significantly address these issues. This is the strength of The Politics of Child Abuse in America."--Duncan Lindsey, School of Public Policy and Social Research, University of California, Los Angeles and author of The Welfare of Children "This timely book deserves a wide audience. It is informative, readable, widely researched, and balanced. The authors are established social welfare scholars who understand and appreciate the complexities of their subject. They thoughtfully place child abuse in a broad historical context, showing how periodic 'discoveries' of the mistreatment of children reflect shifting issues and moods."--History of Education Quarterly "This book is extremely well-written and readable. It is powerful and hard-hitting at the same time that it is scholarly and intellectually honest. The authors 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 an overarching interpretive framework that fits the facts well while accounting for how the system has evolved toward the crisis that it is presently in. The authors jump right into today's heated debates, and emerge with their own unique entry to the current field of proposals for restructuring the system."--Leroy H. Pelton, Ph.D., School of Social Work, Salem State College "[the authors] have written a lively and persuasive book...The book provides important reading for students of child welfare policy; professionals who are searching for an anchor for their sentiments of dismay in the field will find these authors have given the topic of child welfare practice and politics very thoughtful attention."--Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare "...The volume is an honest, thoughtful, and informative recounting of how much mischief has been done in the name of protecting children."--American Political Science Review "This book represents a valuable contribution both to history and public policy."--Journal of Social History "...A sharply critical analysis."--The Prevention Report "...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 the attention of anyone interested in the welfare of our children and the future of American society."--The Annals of the American Academy

ISBN: 9780195116687
ISBN-10: 0195116682
Series: Child Welfare
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 208
Published: 1st July 1997
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.32 x 15.57  x 1.58
Weight (kg): 0.3