IPT Book Reviews


The Hostage Child: Sex Abuse Allegations in Custody Disputes  Negative Review

Authors: Leora N. Rosen and Michelle Etlin
Publisher: Indiana University Press, 1996

Indiana University Press
601 North Morton Street
Bloomington, IN 47404
$29.95 (c)

In 11 chapters, the authors describe CARCO, the Children at Risk Classification Office. The book begins with five case histories that dramatically support the authors' premise that law enforcement, courts, and child protection all fail in protecting women and children. They recommend that CARCO take all such cases away from child protection and criminal court and process them according to child risk. Although the authors' suggestions will strike a responsive chord in many quarters, the book is filled with separatist and divisive dialogue. The authors distrust present child protection and assume only mothers can protect children. Their recommendations that another government agency take these cases and base their decisions on risk assessment ignores the fact that risk assessment has not been proven to be highly accurate. Their proposal that cases of alleged incest be evaluated by CARCO invites one more set of experts to evaluate each case at the Federal level. This book is full of limited and biased information, more advocacy than science, and their proposal invites a backlash. Many issues regarding sexual abuse allegations in custody disputes are ignored and the book does little to answer the needs of those who must deal with this complex and difficult situation.

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

Order this book: Hardcover

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