|| Child Sexual Abuse
|| Danya Glazer and Stephen Frosh
|| Dorsey Press ©
7625 Empire Drive
Florence, KY 41042
$32.50 (c) / $16.25 (p)
This short (173 pages) book consists of eight chapters
dealing with sexual abuse, and is primarily written for social service workers.
Both authors are members of the North Southwork Child Abuse Team in England and
write predominantly from their experience. The eight chapters deal with common
myths, sexual abuse as a multi-faceted problem, various family issues,
professional responses, charge validation, professional involvements, and
treatment. There is a final chapter on team usage. The book closes by providing
a limited reference list for future reading. Although this book is from England,
there is no mention of the highly publicized erroneous charges of sexual abuse
and the subsequent inquiry at Cleveland, England.
In some instances, this book confuses adult rape with child
molestation, and parental power to do good for children with power to do wrong
only and an individualistic ideology (children's right versus family rights).
There is further confusion in children's versus adolescents' rights, but the
book does address children's rights to some degree. Chapter 4 on the initial
response of professionals to the family and child is of interest. The authors
clearly acknowledge that criminal prosecution of some parents may not always be in the child's best interest,
and may be iatrogenic in certain cases, emphasizing the importance of the social
worker's judgment. The authors also state, "In fact, the child sexual abuse
may be a central component in maintaining the family's functioning" (p.58).
This one sentence adds a degree of insight and direction that most books avoid.
Material on the female as offender is missing and there is
little on sibling incest. Also, the absence of a discussion of the Cleveland
scandal raises credibility issues for the book. Perhaps the weakest section is
in Chapter 5 on the medical examination. Since most of the medical data on child
sexual abuse is methodologically flawed, it is debatable as to what conclusions
can be drawn from it. (It appears that the CPS workers can not trust medical
The authors recommend the use of video-recordings by all
staff, but this may be illegal when used in court in some American states in
lieu of alleged victim confrontation. The tapes may have rehabilitative value
only. The authors wisely say that doll usage in diagnosis (sic) is only
The authors list as one of the main functions of the
protective service worker, to make "A decision ... that no sexual abuse has
taken place, following false allegations or the misrepresentations of
phenomena." This marks a breakthrough in the children-don't-lie
simplicity. The authors admit, but offer no solutions, to social service
interventions that demonstrate erroneous charges that create family problems.
Perhaps the best chapter for child protection workers and
social workers is Chapter 7, Therapeutic Intervention, which highlights the
poverty of all our interventions to date. Nothing new has emerged in the past 15
years. It seems that we are trying to force treatments today into yesterday's
formats. Group treatment is endorsed, and the authors suggest that
confidentiality in treatment must be ruptured if the therapist feels that the
child should be protected, although some therapists may disagree with this.
The last chapter on teams may present the greatest problem
for practitioners. The book warns of the anti-male stance of many teams, while
paradoxically calling for more teams, apparently for the CPS worker and not for
the family of the alleged victim.
However, the book does not deal adequately with the
professional rivalry of teams, the ambiguity of child abuse laws, or the
declining resources of the community. The book also demonstrates that national
and state policy is the result of political process rather than of empirical
In general, this book offers little new material and is
designed more for the beginner and not for those of us in the trenches.
Reviewed by LeRoy Schultz, School of
Social Work, West Virginia University.