A Child Called It paper
David J. Pelzer's mother, Catherine Roerva, was, he writes in this ghastly, fascinating memoir, a devoted den mother to the Cub Scouts in her care, and somewhat nurturant to her children--but not to David, whom she referred to as "an It." This book is a brief, horrifying account of the bizarre tortures she inflicted on him, told from the point of view of the author as a young boy being starved, stabbed, smashed face-first into mirrors, forced to eat the contents of his sibling's diapers and a spoonful of ammonia, and burned over a gas stove by a maniacal, alcoholic mom. Sometimes she claimed he had violated some rule--no walking on the grass at school!--but mostly it was pure sadism. Inexplicably, his father didn't protect him; only an alert schoolteacher saved David.
Pelzer's portrayal of domestic tyranny and eventual escape is unforgettable, but falls short of providing understanding of extreme abuse or how he made his journey from "Victim to Victor." One of the greater obstacles to healing for males is admitting that they have been victims, especially if their perpetrator is a woman. This author has overcome that obstacle and succeeded in life by such masculine norms as joining the Air Force and receiving awards for his volunteerism. However, while personal accounts of child maltreatment provide crucial information about the realities of childhood, youngsters need insight and hope in order to digest the raw material of abuse.
After reading this book it let me see how cruel some people can be. It let me realize that as teachers, one has to have their eyes and hears open. Whenever a teacher suspects that something might be going wrong with that child, it is better to alert somebody than to not do anything about it. Even if it turns out to be nothing, at least someone was paying attention to that child. This book also made me realize that a childs safe haven might be the classroom that you offer them each day. It might be their escape from a horrible situation.