BY SILENCE BETRAYED: The Sexual Abuse of Children in America by John Crewdson
Kirkus Star

BY SILENCE BETRAYED: The Sexual Abuse of Children in America

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Anyone who struggled with recent news reports about child sexual abuse at Call, fornia's McMartin School or in the town of Jordan, Minnesota, will welcome this timely and compelling work that puts those particular cases (were the children lying? were the caregivers in cahoots?) and the overall issues into sharp perspective. Crewdson, whose New York Times reporting on illegal immigration earned him a Pulitzer Prize, covered sexual abuse for the Chicago Tribune, and the sobering results of his investigations may catalyze public opinion and influence social policy. Here, Crewdson looks closely not only at abusers and victims, and the family configurations and social circumstances that foster these situations, but also, and significantly, at the legal system that all too frequently victimizes the victims. Because states have not standardized procedures for questioning children and arranging for their testimony, many cases--especially those involving groups of children and several adults--fail to bring to trial or convict the guilty. Children, particularly the youngest, have trouble reporting consistently, and defense lawyers are permitted to cross-examine vigorously, even for days at a time. Moreover, what's necessary for therapeutic resolution--discussion and then distancing--may conflict with legal practice and court scheduling. This is also, in part, a book about disturbing people: pedophiles whose private lingo identifies a child new to sex as ""a kid with low mileage""; lawyers who offer seminars on confusing children and fooling jurors; friendly caretakers (sitters, priests, scoutmasters, child-care workers) with extensive histories of seduction and betrayal; child-porn associates with sadistic techniques and sophisticated mailing-list strategies; ""cured"" molesters who just can't kick the habit. Crewdson organizes this difficult, volatile material into a definitive, genuinely illuminating book that should help shape attitudes and channel public discussions. An important and noteworthy achievement.

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 1987
Publisher: Little, Brown