ON TRIAL: America's Courts and Their Treatment of  by Billie Wright Dziech

ON TRIAL: America's Courts and Their Treatment of

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A righteous indictment of our legal system's and, indirectly, our society's practice of treating the victim as criminal. Dziech and Schudson's volume should not be valued just for its statistical reportage of sexual abuse of children, or for its documentation of attitudes and misconceptions that hamper effective measures against abuse. Its best virtue, in fact, is its sympathetic knowledge of the child victim's feelings and psychology. Out of this insight the authors set forth the child's needs, which, they claim, the court system today neglects. Dziech (The Lecherous Professor: Sexual Harassment on Campus, 1984) and Schudson (a Wisconsin circuit court judge) achieve a fine balance of moral imperative and real-life experience in child-abuse cases. Extensive quotes from scholars, social workers, jurists, and victims and their parents anchor their assertions in empirical fact. The book detonates emotionally and morally with a lengthy case study, and the upsetting horror we feel over the abuse suffered by preschoolers at the "prestigious school for upper-middle-class children. . .in the northeast" is nearly equalled by the outrage expressed at the ensuing trial over the victim's experience--which are recounted with transcript passages that reveal the injustices and that confirm the authors' claims. An effectively crusading work that makes cleat' the need for reform in our legal system and among the people who run it. Be warned, though: this is a distressing read, covering the darkest, most horrid territory of human nature. Only the authors' ultimate faith in the legal system they excoriate provides a ray of light.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1989
ISBN: 8070-0408-1
Publisher: Beacon
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