by Claire Rayner
There are several different points of view about the incidence of child abuse in this country at this time.
There is the all too common response that abuse is the direct result of the unique wickedness of our modern society, the death of deference and God-fearing good behaviour. People who take this view find it hard to be convinced, even when presented with documentary evidence, that child abuse existed and may even have been worse in the so-called 'Good Old Days'.
Then there are those who see the incidence of this distressing problem of modern society as entirely the result of political ineptitude. For them, it is the State's failure to provide for the poorest members of society, dooming them to inadequate housing in depressing milieux, providing minimal standards of care for those unable to earn adequate living wages for themselves, and only the most basic of educational opportunities for the children of the uneducated, that is at the root of the problem. These people need to be convinced that child abuse is not behaviour limited only to the poor and uneducated, but is just as likely to occur in middle- and even upper-class circles.
This confusion of ideas about child abuse is not confined to the general public. Every professional working with children and their families, be they doctors or teachers, nurses or dentists, and every person working alongside them in an administrative or clerical capacity, is part of the general public and will not necessarily have had the opportunity to find out the facts about child abuse for themselves.
And that is why this book is so important. It offers in clear direct prose (blessedly free of jargon, glory be!) all that we need to know about the forms of abuse a child may suffer, how they may be recognised and how they should be dealt with, taking care to cause the least possible damage to an already damaged child.
It is also blessedly free of any of the hysteria that appears, notably in the popular press but also in society as a whole, whenever cases of child abuse are discovered. If you listen to people in shops, offices or pubs discussing issues around widely publicised cases of child abuse, the