IPT Book Reviews


Evaluating Children Suspected of Having Been Sexually Abused: The APSAC Study Guides 2 

Author: Kathleen Coulborn Faller
Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc., ©1996

Sage Publications, Inc.
2455 Teller Rd.
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
(805) 499-0721
$95.00 (p) (includes testing for seven continuing education credits).

The study guide and the accompanying knowledge tests in this 100-page book are intended to provide critical knowledge in selected areas of child maltreatment.  This is the second volume in a series which is intended to fulfill legal requirements for continuing education.  These guides are produced by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC).  (See the preceding review of the study guide by Quinsey and Lalummiėre).

The chapter topics in this study guide include models, objectivity, interviews, documentation, tests, questions, anatomical dolls, very young children, witnesses, false allegations, and validity criteria.  Faller summarizes selected research articles and indicates that social workers, investigators, and therapists have the duty to keep current with the literature.  This is a difficult task in that there have been approximately 15,000 books and articles on these topics in the past ten years.  The book appears directed toward masters level social workers and mental health professionals rather than child protection workers.

Several controversial areas are left unmentioned, such as sibling incest, abuse of boys, recovered memory claims, trauma caused by the investigation, backlash issues, and family mediation.  The chapters on false allegations and on the criteria for determining whether an allegation is valid are of interest, but readers hoping for an easy answer will be disappointed, as the book indicates just how difficult and complex the problem is.  Confusion between cause and correlation and vague phrases such as ''associated with'' and ''consistent with'' are often found in the research literature on assessing children suspected of being abused.  Most annoying is Faller's belief that not all interviews with children should be videotaped.  It is now generally accepted among both legal and mental health professionals that all investigatory interviews of children be taped; the only exceptions are some prosecutors.

This study guide is recommended only for beginners.

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

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