Learning About Sexual Abuse
Aho and Petras
This type of material is one we see quite often on this site. (Click here to see Mr T help kids, or this gem of a book that tells kids that sex abuse will make you gay.) Most of it dates from the 1980s and 90s when there was a lot of hysteria associated with stranger danger, sex abuse, and other crimes against children.
Regardless, this book is still dated. Most of the perpetrators are portrayed as having “problems” or are misunderstood. Unfortunately, no one seems to get these people arrested and charged with a crime. However, they do do get counseling or “help”. Note the final line in the story where Uncle Brian is evidently still allowed to hang out with the family. Evidently, just some once a week counseling and a “good talking to” by Laura’s parents will fix Uncle Brian right up. Notice how no one helps Laura and she still has to hangout with creepy Uncle Brian.
Weed it and don’t look back.
Submitter: I found this while weeding the Parent/Teacher collection in my medium-sized public library. This was a topical acquisition about 35 years ago when it was first published, but it’s never circulated as far back as we keep circulation records. Maybe someone will come looking for it in the current political climate, but if they do, I’m sure there’s got to be something out there that doesn’t predate the modern internet.
Holly: I’m sure more parents have had discussions with children about nuclear war in 2017 than in the last 30 years combined! Still, submitter is right. This might have a few useful tips, but we can probably do better for our kids.
Submitter: Considering this book was published in 1959, it is not nearly as bad as it could be. The authors take a broad view of social problems, recognizing, for example, that “Negroes” are discriminated against in all aspects of society (socially, politically, economically, in law enforcement, etc.). For example, the book includes a page which has snippets of discriminatory texts from travel agencies and hotels—fascinating and damning stuff.
Where it goes seriously awry is in its “adaptations,” abridged adaptations from other publications. There are short introductory statements to these adaptations, but the authors of the textbook don’t criticize the excerpts, they simply present them as thought-provoking alternate viewpoints. One adaptation, “A southerner’s view of desegregation,” written by Thomas Waring and originally published in Harper’s magazine in January 1956, is particularly offensive, taking a white man’s burden view of desegregation efforts. Another, “Predicting parole success and failure,” adapted from the 1951 book of the same name by Lloyd E. Ohlin, doesn’t hesitate to use stereotypes to categorize people, such as “drunkard,” “sex deviant,” and… um… “’farmer’,” for some reason??
The weirdest section by far was an excerpt of an article published in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat in February 1956, “The battle for health… and dollars” by Marguerite Shepard. Shepard appears to be in the pocket of Big Polio, as she seems extremely put out by the amount of money those swindlers fighting polio have been raking in.
Oh, and the cover’s pretty awful, too. An overdue weed from our small liberal arts college library’s collection, though I admit I feel comforted by the fact that 237 other libraries hold this book for those who are interested in researching late 1950s attitudes to “major social problems.”
Holly: This belongs *somewhere,* but that isn’t a small liberal arts college. Amazing what you unearth when weeding hasn’t been done for a while.