Ideally, this would come packaged with Robert Geiser's sober investigation of the sexual abuse of children, Hidden Victims...

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SILENT CHILDREN: A Parent's Guide to the Prevention of Child Abuse

Ideally, this would come packaged with Robert Geiser's sober investigation of the sexual abuse of children, Hidden Victims (1979), for it is most deficient in discussing the problem and best at offering specific guidance to parents, which Geiser doesn't attempt. The first section, predicated on the assumption that a strong self-image will best enable a child to resist abuse, offers familiar, unexceptionable advice--listen to children's fears, avoid sex-role stereotyping (the compliant little girl is an easy target, the ""macho"" boy will be loath to ask for help), and encourage children to trust their instincts. There follows a lengthy section on types of offenders--adolescent, fixated, aggressive, etc.--which seems more appropriate, at best, to a manual for social workers; distinctions made are irrelevant to parental decisions, and the frightening descriptions of molesters at work (saving photos of tiny victims, stealing money to buy a mini-bike for a youthful boyfriend, etc.) can only intensify parental anxieties. When, however, Sanford takes up what parents can actually do, in the third section, her suggestions are concrete and appropriate. Discussions of sexual abuse should be linked to other warnings regarding safety and survival; possible responses should be explored via realistic ""what if. . ."" conversations (sample dialogues are provided); conversations about potential abusers (from strangers through persons the child loves) and possible approaches (the shared secret, the special friend, the bribe, the threat) should be spaced over several months. Though the problem is pervasive and parental resources are limited, this could be beneficial to those who feel they must do something. Anyone who wishes to understand the problem better should turn first to Geiser, however, or even to the relevant section in the Kempes' 1978 Child Abuse.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 1980

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1980