Description: In 1987 in Leeds, England, a large-scale child abuse investigation was launched following the medical diagnosis of physical abnormalities in more than 120 children. Many of these children were removed from their homes pending and following social service investigations. A later governmental inquiry, called the Cleveland Inquiry, concluded that the methods of investigation were flawed. This book is a compilation of essays on child sexual abuse disclosure, treatment, and the effect on the professionals in the field. Most of the contributors were directly involved in the Cleveland cases.
Purpose: The goal is to address difficult areas of theory and practice in child abuse.
Audience: The intended audience is professionals in child abuse. The chapter authors include recognized professionals and two individuals who wrote under pseudonyms. This book is of limited interest to medical professionals, even child abuse specialists. Because the book has such imprecise direction, it also is of little use to students in the field.
Features: Chapters vary both in quality internal cohesion. A chapter by Heather Bacon on attachment and child abuse is a well thought out overview of this important area. Another chapter by the same author regarding traumatized children in foster care is informative. However, other chapters are difficult to understand or polemical. The only chapter on medical issues, by Dr. Jane Wynne, is worth reading as memoir of her professional experience. Many authors include multiple brief case histories: rather than enlivening the narrative, these are so brief that they raise questions about how conclusions of abuse were achieved. The assumption runs throughout the book that children who have nonspecific but suggestive physical signs or behaviors should be considered children who are "not yet able to disclose." There is no discussion of interviewing techniques for children when abuse is suspected. There is no discussion of differential diagnosis for nonspecific signs or behaviors.
Assessment: This book may be of interest to professionals who were directly involved in the Cleveland investigation, and may hold some interest for those who were involved in similar investigations in the United States (McMartin preschool, Wenatchee Washington). However, the essays too often fail to provide clear analysis, critique, or direction for further study or policy. There are many better choices in this field.