IPT Book Reviews

Title: The Battered Child — Fifth Edition
Editors: Mary Edna Helfer, Ruth S. Kempe, and Richard D. Krugman
Publisher: University of Chicago Press, 1997

University of Chicago Press
5801 South Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 702-7700
$45.00 (c)

This 671-page book is the fifth edition of this classic and influential book. It is dedicated to Dr. Roy Helfer who died in 1992 and who was a leader in the effort to eliminate child maltreatment. The editors state that, although the format of the book remains the same, 90% of the content is new.

The book consists of 30 chapters divided into four parts and ends with an index. Part one provides an overview and general background of the cultural, social, and individual context in which maltreatment occurs. Part two, the largest section of the book, addresses the assessment of various forms of abuse and neglect. Part three focuses on intervention and treatment, and part four covers prevention and policy. The sections of physical abuse include black and white photographs depicting several types of physical abuse and illustrate how child abuse is differentiated from accidental injuries.

There is little mention of false accusations in cases of suspected sexual abuse, although the chapters that discuss interviewing show an awareness of the importance of encouraging free recall and avoiding leading questions. There is a good discussion of mistaken diagnoses of physical abuse in the chapter by a former chief medical examiner on the pathology of child abuse. The chapter on culture and maltreatment is useful due to the large numbers of recent immigrants who have child rearing practices that may be seen as inappropriate.

Some authors offer suggestions that are naive and show a lack of awareness of the current consensus. One example is the recommendation to use anatomical dolls, another is the now-discredited list of behavioral indicators that are said to trigger a suspicion of sexual abuse. There is little mention of substance abuse, although this is an important factor in child abuse and neglect cases. This book is only recommended as a supplement to other more important books.

Reviewed by LeRoy G. Schultz, Emeritus Professor, West Virginia University.

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