The book, A Child Called It, by Dave Pelzer is an astonishing inside look at the life of an abused and neglected child. His journey allows the reader to see a horrible situation through the eyes of a helpless child, and has a profound impact on the emotions of his audience. After reading this book I felt compelled to read a bit more about the subject of child abuse and neglect. I have reviewed three different articles, which can be compared and contrasted with the writings of Pelzer. The articles that I read covered topics such as attachment styles and aggression in children who are abused, child maltreatment as a precursor to peer rejection, and the importance of neighborhood-based child neglect reporting. Each one of these articles touched upon topics that were significant issues in Dave Pelzer's story.
The first of the articles that I read, entitled "Attachment Styles and Aggression in Physically Abused and Neglected Children.", dealt with the issue of increased aggression and development of a healthy attachment style in children who are victims of child abuse and neglect. The results of study that was conducted indicate that the tendency toward physical aggression is significantly increased in physically abused children. "According to a model positing aggression as a mediator between maltreatment and peer rejection, experiencing maltreatment leads children to become more aggressive, and their aggressive behavior in turn causes them to be disliked and rejected by peers." (Bolger 550). The model of social conflict resolution, which is displayed to the child through the parent, is a template that the child uses in their future social conflicts. They have learned
to solve problems through physical violence or force, and use this method in their own social interactions. This theory, though it holds water as indicated by the empirical data, is a contrast to the situation of Dave Pelzer in his book. Dave was a more timid personality, who experienced peer rejection and underwent severe bullying. Dave's reaction is touched upon in another side of this theory, which is more commonly associated with neglected children. Rather than increased aggression, these children experience increased social withdrawal. The model of social interaction that the parents have displayed is insufficient for the development of secure attachment and functioning in a social context for the child. According to this article, "Chronically maltreated children are likely to have had fewer opportunities to observe and experience empathy and responsiveness in their interactions with parents, which could impede their ability to develop pro-social skills such as helping, sharing, and cooperation." (Bolger 551). In his book for instance, Pelzer recalls numerous occasions in which he was ignored, ostracized, and humiliated by his peers. Pelzer began to believe that no one cared about him and that he was better off dead. There were even instances when Dave states that he was allowed to play with the other children and chose not to. Even when faced with the opportunity to interact with his peers, he withdrawals of his own volition, because he is used to being alone and has become accustomed to this way of life. "On the way home from the bowling alley, Mom stopped at a grocery store and bought each of us a toy top. When we got home, Mom said I could play outside with the other boys, but I took the toy top to the corner of the master bedroom and played by myself." (Pelzer 124). This act is what the article refers to as social withdrawal. Dave has accepted the fact that he will never be an
equal, and he gives up trying. Hence, as supported by the results of the study, Dave's social withdrawal can be traced back to his child maltreatment.
The second article that I read, entitled "Developmental Pathways from Child Maltreatment to Peer Rejection.", dealt with the issue of child maltreatment as a precursor to peer rejection. It's really a...
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