Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family

By Murray A. Straus; Richard J. Gelles et al. | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 4
Kids Will Be Kids:
Violence Between
Brothers and Sisters

Imagine a typical hospital emergency room. A young boy, perhaps seven or eight years old, is escorted from the waiting room into the examining area. His face is covered with blood from a gash above the eye, and his lip is swollen.

A nurse returns from the examining area to talk to the mother. The nurse's demeanor—her disgust—coupled with stage-whispered comments from other attending staff suggest they suspect this is a case of child abuse. Other patients exchange looks of shock and revulsion, clearly indicating the contempt they feel toward this mother.

Consider the same scene—the same child, the same mother, the same injuries. What if the information given to the attending staff and conveyed to those in the waiting room is that the injured child was fighting with his brother and some misplaced blows caused the injury? The atmosphere in the waiting room would change. Patients would now nod their heads in agreement, noting that "boys will be boys," "all kids fight," and con

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