Academic journal article Family Relations

Violence in the Lives of Adolescents

Academic journal article Family Relations

Violence in the Lives of Adolescents

Article excerpt

Straus, Martha B. (1994). Violence in the Lives of Adolescents. New York: Norton. 238 pp. Hardcover ISBN 0-393-70187, price $27.00.

Violence in the Lives of Adolescents is an attempt to bridge the professional worlds of research and clinical practice. This bridging is a genre that offers great promise, but often fails to deliver. Often either the review of empirical research is shallow and naive or the clinical material is superficial and dehumanized. Straus's book succeeds because it avoids both pitfalls.

The book tackles a series of issues within the broad phenomenon of violence in the lives of adolescents: suicide, running away from home, delinquency, sexual offending, and physical abuse. In each case, there is detailed clinical material that brings to life the review of empirical research that surrounds and infuses it: Susan embodies the issue of suicide, Michelle is a runway, Richie is a delinquent, Paul offends sexually, and Dawn is a victim of physical abuse.

Throughout the case material, Martha Straus emerges-not thrusting herself before the kids she treats, but naturally as her relationship with them and her intellectual struggles to make sense of their lives in relation to the available body of research emerge in the narrative. More than any place else in the book, I felt I saw her most clearly in this passage dealing with violent delinquents:

"On paper, the kids always seemed crazy and dangerous. Rattling down the hall, they sound menacing (indeed, those of us involved with the delinquency project developed a certain tough reputation in our clinic because of the sound of chains jangling in the halls outside our offices and the beefy guards stationed nearby). …

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