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A Child Called "It" - David'S Fortitude And Will To Move Forward

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A Child Called "It" - David's Fortitude and Will to Move Forward

Kristen N. Cheatwood

Padua Academy

American society often fails to address important issues that are prevalent and extremely significant amongst everyday conditions. Child abuse is one of the major issues that our country is plagued with, yet is often neglected and hence not adequately researched or documented. It has been proven that in such cases when abuse is not addressed, several disturbing consequences result; from minor cases becoming extreme to even fatality. Bringing this to the attention of the entire nation is extremely important and could quite possibly be beneficial to the lives of many children who continue to suffer everyday. David Pelzer, an acclaimed author and survivor wrote A Child Called "It" as an account of the abuse he endured and its severity. The story is about Dave who, in order to survive, must triumph over the physical, emotional, and medical abuse created by his mother.

In the initial parts of the book, David's family instances were almost like non other, he described his family as "The Brady Bunch of the 1960s. My two brothers and I were blessed with the perfect parents," (Pelzer 17). They would go on family vacations, play games, and go on daily outings that they all enjoyed. All of this lasted for quite some time, and it was to everyone's surprise when Dave's mother took a drastic and abrupt change for the worse. Her behavior became unusual and her drinking increased heavily. She became easily frustrated, and it seemed that her biggest source of frustration was Dave, who to her, seemed to be the loudest and wildest of the children thus, beginning Dave's unquestionable and inhuman nightmare. The story explains Dave's struggle to stay alive in a home where he is treated worse than an animal or a slave. Mother found any excuse to punish Dave, while favoring her other children and as the book progressed, her punishments toward Dave grew more dangerous. Aside from being horribly beaten, Dave was forced to eat his own vomit, swallow soap, and inhale ammonia, and Clorox in mother's homemade "gas chamber." This was just the beginning of his mother's "games." Initially, she would slap him, smash his face into the mirror and make him repeat "I'm a bad boy!" or force him to search for hours for something she had "lost." But with time, her cruelty grew to include not giving him food for many consecutive days, making him sleep on a cot in the basement, and forcing him to wear the same soiled shirt and pants to school every day for several years. She also had special punishments for him, such as turning on the stove's burner and attempting to lay him across the stovetop. One particular incident that Pelzer describes gives a good example of his daily life and when the maltreatment could have ended. After being without food for three days, his mother had given him 20 minutes to clean the kitchen and do the dishes. Staggering drunk, she grabbed a kitchen knife and began waving it in his face, shouting, "If you don't finish on time, I'm going to kill you," (Pelzer, 85). Pelzer's mother lost her balance and stabbed Dave in the chest. Initially, mother took care of her Dave herself, denying him medical care despite his blood loss and the severity of the stab wound, but after a few days Dave was left to take care of himself again, even when his wound became infected three days later. Although Dave informed his father of what mother had done, he simply swept this incident under the rug, as he did all others by stating " better go back in there and do the dishes...we don't need to do anything that might make her more upset! I don't need to go through that tonight...," (Pelzer, 90). Clearly this was a severe and ruthless incident that should have been reported. If for any previous moment, Mr. Pelzer considered himself to be oblivious to the situations that his son was enduring, the saddened, helpless look in David's eyes at this very moment caused by the severity of the wound he had suffered and the shock that mother could have done this to him, was reason enough to make a report that would put poor David out of his misery.

Although Dave's hopes for rescue initially lay with his father, who was once a supporter on behalf of his son, Stephan Pelzer, is also an alcoholic, and eventually grew tired



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