Domestic Tyranny

Domestic Tyranny : Making of American Social Policy Against Family Violence from Colonial Times to the Present

3.81 (22 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
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The first history of family violence in the United States creates a broad portrait of America's attitude towards it over the years, considering not only how the problem has been defined, but also the institutional and legal remedies reformers hae devised to respond to it. Readership: those concerned with family problems, child abuse, violence against women etc. Feminists. Students of American social more

Product details

  • Hardback | 280 pages
  • 160.02 x 238.76 x 30.48mm | 907.18g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • 15ill.
  • 0195041119
  • 9780195041118

Review Text

Child abuse and spouse beating, as seen through the eyes of academe. Pleck, of the Center for Research on Women at Wellesley College, focuses her attention on the ebb and flow of societal attention to family violence. Taking us back to the Puritans of 1640-1680, she documents the first law "anywhere in the world" against wife-beating and "unnatural severity" to children. This was the first period of reform, which wasn't followed by another until the period front 1874 to 1890 when societies for the prevention of cruelty to children were founded. The third era of reform began in 1962 with attention to the "battered child syndrome." Reform, unfortunately, didn't necessarily bring solutions, as witness the fact that domestic homicide rates increased after the 1962 offensive was undertaken. Front this fact, Pleck concludes that the problem of reformers is that they attempt to solve the problem by reconciling victim and family in an effort to shore up the family institution. "The single most consistent barrier to reform against domestic violence has been the Family Ideal - that is. . .ideas about family privacy, conjugal and parental rights, and family stability." The author disagrees and sees the problem in public rather than private terms. She recommends, in the end, more engagement by the public sector in an effort to protect the victim, even to the extent of removing the victims from their homes, via a combination of emergency housing, welfare, legal aid for divorce, child support agreements, and foster care leading to permanent adoption. Unfortunately, her solutions are a bit too academically pat, failing to hint at the perhaps masochistic desire of many victims to stick it out, and failing also to push for a campaign, similar to the anti-drug ads, that would educate more violently inclined people to adhere to a more accepted standard of behavior. Interesting exposition, but short on solutions. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

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22 ratings
3.81 out of 5 stars
5 18% (4)
4 45% (10)
3 36% (8)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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