A Child Called "It" book cover

A Child Called "It"

by Dave Pelzer

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What happened to Dave Pelzer's parents in A Child Called "It"?

Quick answer:

After Dave Pelzer was removed from his mother's care by police, no legal action was taken against either of his parents. The two had already separated and, while he later forgave his father, his relations with his mother remained hostile.

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In chapter 7 of A Child Called "It," the author describes his parents separating shortly after Christmas. His father, Joseph, a weak and ineffectual man whom Pelzer had come to despise, apologized for leaving him but said that he could not stand things as they were.

In 1973, the police removed the author from his mother's care. She had previously been concerned about the social services taking similar action, and she temporarily stopped abusing her son. Although it was clear to the police that Pelzer had been abused, and separating him from his mother was a serious step, Catherine Roevra Pelzer was not tried or punished for any of her actions. This has led some critics to question Pelzer's account of her behavior. However, child abuse was barely a concept in most people's minds in the early 1970s, and the relevant federal law—the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act—was only passed in 1974.

As an adult, Pelzer met both his parents again. He forgave his father for his weakness, understanding that, in any case, he had little idea of the extent of the abuse. His meeting with his mother was much less positive. In a Sunday Times article (attached), Pelzer says that she continued her violence and bitterness, telling him, "You were trash, and like trash I simply tossed you away."

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