A Child Called "It" book cover

A Child Called "It"

by Dave Pelzer

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What happened to the mom in A Child Called "It"?

The mom in A Child Called "It," Catherine Roevra Pelzer, was not formally charged with child abuse. The author was removed from her care by the police, but no further legal action was taken against her.

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Most readers of A Child Called It would assume that after the police had seen the signs of physical abuse on the author's body and decided that he must be separated from his mother, she would be prosecuted. However, Catherine Roevra Pelzer was not tried for her crimes and served no jail time. The author says that he has met her as an adult, and that she confessed that, if he had not escaped, she would eventually have killed him.

If Catherine Pelzer had killed her son and the police had collected enough evidence, she would have been tried for murder. However, in the early 1970s, child abuse was not commonly acknowledged. The principal and teachers who called in the police knew they were risking their jobs by making it a legal matter. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act was passed in 1974, the year after Dave Pelzer was taken away from his mother and, from that point onwards, people started to become more aware of child abuse as a crime. One of the reasons Pelzer gives for writing his memoir is to raise consciousness of child abuse and to suggest what action people should take if they suspect that it is occurring.

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