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The Hostage Child: Sex Abuse Allegations in Custody Disputes Hardcover – August 22, 1996


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Since the premise of this book is the Dr. Elizabeth Morgan case, that history-making event might have been exploited. Instead, the authors, co-founders of Operation Z, a child advocacy group, have gathered information on 206 cases and focus on five representative examples that illustrate what they see an an increasing anti-mother bias in the courts. These five cases of the failure to safeguard children are the most effective parts of the book: Mary H. took her children into hiding; when she died there after failing to have her cancer treated, her abused daughter was forcibly returned to the father. In Karen Carter's case, although independent doctors returned a verdict that there was a "reasonable medical certainty" of "non-accidental genital injury" to her daughter Jesse (as well as substantial other proof), the child was returned to her father, while Carter was deemed "not to be trusted" because she might possibly kidnap her daughter. Whatever may have happened in the past, the authors make a well-researched, convincing (if partisan) case that the pendulum has now swung the other way. Now many lawyers, child advocates, psychologists and judges accept a "crazy mother" or "vindictive ex-" syndrome, thus allowing real perpetrators to continue abuse with no supervision. Culdoscopic exams, which can prove rape in children as young as one week, are thrown aside. In these cases, judges acquiesce to a paternalistic myth of the American family and in so doing, ignore the reality of American children.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Child abuse, even in notorious cases like Lisa Steinberg's, comes about, say the authors, because the family court, criminal court, and social service systems are working to protect the rights of abusive parents, not children at risk. According to family violence expert Louis Gelles, almost half of all children killed by their caretakers are murdered after they come to the attention of the child welfare system. Because children have no legal standing, their interests must be brought forward by another party. If this is within the context of divorce proceedings, the child and the protective parent are often further victimized. Spurred by the Elizabeth Morgan case, child protection activists Rosen and Etlin devote the first half of their book to five case studies that demonstrate how the legal system brings heinous results. The second half is an excellent review of the statistics, literature, and workings of our faulty system. The authors propose a visionary new federal bureau, the Child At Risk Classification Office (CARCO), within the Public Health Service. This provocative book is recommended for academic and larger public libraries.?Janice Dunham, John Jay Coll. Lib., New York
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (August 22, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253330459
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253330451
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,597,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By SSDaisie@aol.com on January 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book touches on issues and on possible pitfalls that protective mothers can encounter and are currently encountering in the legal system. It will help them to better understand what strategies are being used to discredit their children. The book is absolutely realistic in its assertions on how the system is treating sexual abuse allegations. It is also correct in its description of the bias in the courts against mothers. This can be difficult to believe for anyone who has not been to family court but unfortunately it is the reality today. Thanks to the authors! Great book!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Hostage Child is one of the best books on the systematic failure of the United States to protect children from sexual abuse. Research shows that only 9-10% of children who report sexual abuse are protected by family courts across the country. These children will struggle their whole lives with the aftereffects of this pernicious type of abuse. A must read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Darkroom Diva on November 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This well-written book tells us the disturbing stories of children abused by family members and the failure of the child welfare system to help them.
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