This book is about men and women who neglect and abuse children, physically, emotionally and sexually. A number of key themes emerge:
Emotional abuse causes the most long-term harm to children, although combinations of emotional with physical and/or sexual abuse cause the most harm to long-term mental health.
Because of the long-term burden which abuse imposes on its victims, it is crucial to intervene effectively with abusers (potential and actual) to prevent them from either beginning abuse, committing further abuse, or entering the victim-to-abuser cycle.
Abusers have often experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect in their own childhoods. The role of disordered attachments to adult figures in the victim-to-abuser cycle is considered in detail, including ways of effective intervention.
Men and women who kill children can be characterized in various ways, and various programmes of intervention can be designed. The cycle of poverty is also considered in detail, a process by which economically poor families beget children who enter a cycle of both economic and psychological poverty, in which risks of all kinds of child abuse and neglect are elevated.
In the section on ‘iatrogenic abuse’ I consider ways in which institutions such as medicine, child care, social work and the media can actually harm children through their interventions.
Special issues considered in detail are Munchausen-Syndrome-by-Proxy; ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome’; SIDS deaths; the epidemiology of child sexual abuse; dissociative syndromes as sequels and antecedents of child abuse; child abuse ‘moral panics’; child pornography and the internet; and the problem of suicide in men facing charges of child sexual abuse, as well as suicide by a parent following their murder of a child.