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Turning Stones: My Days and Nights with Children at Risk A Caseworker's Story Paperback – January 27, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st Ballantine Books ed edition (January 27, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449912353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449912355
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (199 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Marc Parent worked for four years as a caseworker for Emergency Children's Services in New York, acting as the final protector of children from abusive parents, as "the one on the front line--the last hope for a kid in trouble." His job was to make house calls and decide if a child needed to be removed at once. He has selected eight cases illustrating the extreme pressures of the work and indicating why it is that the system so often fails in its mission. He recounts unsparingly how three years into his job he made a fatal mistake, failing to recognize the plight of a little boy who later died of starvation. This compelling account is an important documenting of the weaknesses of the child support system. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this outstanding work of social commentary, Parent describes the harrowing conditions he worked under and the brutalization he witnessed during the four years he was employed as a caseworker by New York City's Emergency Children's Services. His job was to respond in the night to calls made at those hours regarding children in life-threatening situations. He would then visit their homes and decide whether the children should be removed. Inadequately trained and without sufficient supervision, he and his co-workers were forced to balance dangerous situations against taking often unwilling children from their homes into tenuous foster-care arrangements. Among other horrendous encounters during his tenure, Parent dealt with an eight-year-old with venereal disease and a mother who threw her child out the window. Believing that child abuse can happen in rural as well as urban areas, Parent convincingly argues for public scrutiny of child welfare agencies as well as a societal commitment to protecting children. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I recommend reading this book because it is easy reading and it is very interesting.
Bridget Campbell
I thought that Turning Stones was a very open story about Marc Parent's personal encounters with abused children though his job as a Children's Welfare caseworker.
Matt
Everyone should read this book just to see what really goes on in the world and could even be happening next door or to their family members.
"lhotness"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Larry L. Looney on January 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
I put off reading this book for some time after it was recommended to me -- I knew how potentially devastating the stories it contains might be. While they are heartbreaking to read, I think they should be required reading for every adult in America who cares about the welfare of children -- it's vital that people realize the hell that some of these kids are going through, to feel it and breathe it, in order to open society's eyes to it and get these kids some help.
The case histories here -- with the names changed, of course, for all the right reasons -- are tragic, and cover everything from mothers on drugs to children falling victim to the psychoses of their parents, to physical and sexual abuse. These are horror stories -- and they don't always have happy endings. The book is an intelligent, sensitive look at the Child Welfare System of New York City -- and I'm sure it can be applied to other large cities as well -- and gives the reader a good look at what's both right and wrong with the system, how it works and how it doesn't. Even when it works, it can be traumatic -- children are removed from homes, separated from their parents who have neglected or abused them, and placed in group or foster homes, hopefully to receive the care and love they deserve. When it doesn't work, it can be deadly.
Marc Parent worked in the system in NYC for a little over four years -- caringly, with the sole purpose of helping these kids. The things he saw and experienced took their toll on him -- and understandably so -- causing him to doubt his own motives, resolve and abiities. The thing that saved him -- the thing at the core of his caring -- is that making a difference in the life of just one child on any given night is so very important.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Just another Stephanie on November 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
I read this book very, very quickly. That's the only way to read it, to avoid breaking down and sobbing throughout every chapter. And there are some doozies in here.

Remember the story of the woman who threw two of her five children out the window of her tenement (something like five floors up) in New York City? Marc worked the aftermath of that case. The woman had never been investigated before, hadn't even been diagnosed with mental illness, nothing. She kept down a job, the kids saw their father (who wasn't married to the mother) every weekend, they were well-fed and well taken care of. She just snapped, just like that.

He told of an eight-year old girl diagnosed with gonorrhea. Pitbulls attacking caseworkers. Women so afraid of hexes they wouldn't let their children eat the food, for fear of glass in the food killing them. Homes so infested and horrible that the caseworkers were scared to enter. An eight year old boy, mentally ill and neglected by his druggie mother, left home alone and terrified that he would kill his brother. Marc talked him down from plunging the knife, which the boy held at his two year old brother's throat, and killing his brother. Another scary story was about a nine year old boy who basically just snapped and beat one of his cousins to death.

A good read. Read it fast, and then turn some stones of your own.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 27, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sometimes we lose hope and think things never will change. The children, the parents, the pain of their situations all wear us down. After twenty-five years in child protective services I am content to push papers ... I thought! Anyone who has ever left a child in the home and that child suffered re-injury or death, needs to know that they are not alone.

The reasons we do this critical work cannot get lost in political arguments about the imperfections of "the system" or conservative rhetoric about the sanctity of family life and the intrusiveness of governmemt. Real children suffer every day, and real social workers try their best to diminish their suffering. Thank you, Marc Parent, for telling our story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 1996
Format: Paperback
I have been a CPS worker and for the last 17 years have been
training CPS workers. Turning Stones reflects the nature and
problems in a very tough job. Mr. Parent reminds us that, when
faced with an overwhelming problem such as child abuse,
making a difference for even one child is a beginning.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read Parent's book on a vacation desperately needed to stave off my impending burnout and research my employment options. After twenty years in a field I find critical to our existence as a society I had had enough. As a CPS administrator (working my way through the ranks of course) I was feeling more hopeless than I'd thought possible.
The clients and situations Parent describes were very familiar and his writing style eloquent. He writes about the families, the various personalities amongst the staff and the flaws inherent in a system that tries hard to perform an overwhelming and unappreciated task. The chapter which explained the book's title was so powerful I couldn't quit sobbing. I felt a strengthening of my resolve to continue the fight and turn a few more stones of my own. The only disappointment was Anna Quindlen's remarks which were somewhat blaming and contrasted with Parent's tone throughout the book. Part of my duties include training, the book will be a must read for all new Social Workers. I plan to send it to our judge as well. Anyone involved or just curious about the life of child protective workers will find it fascinating.
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