A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer

The book A Child Called “It” is a memoir written by Dave Pelzer. In the work, the author describes the pains and abuses he experienced in the hands of his mother (Pelzer, 1995). Throughout his early childhood, Pelzer’s mother was charming and friendly. She treated every person in the family nicely including Pelzer. Unfortunately, things changed abruptly when she started to torture and abuse him. His mother played unpredictable and inhumane games that left him torn and incapable of realizing his academic goals. This discussion will give a detailed summary and critical analysis of the memoir.

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Book Summary

The text chronicles the extraordinary experience of Pelzer who was punished by his mother. According to the book, the victim was treated with love and warmth at the very beginning. It is notable that her mother had portrayed specific manic behaviors that could not be recognized by a child of his age. Things changed when she started to punish him perpetually. She became addicted to alcohol and began playing injurious tricks on Pelzer. The young boy was forced to devise new methods of dealing with his mother (Pelzer, 1995). He realized and acknowledged that he was nothing but a slave in the family.

The book shows that Dave slept in the garage. He was forced to wear torn or dirty school uniform. His mother provided spoiled or unhealthy foods to him. Despite all these struggles and pains, the outside world was unaware of what was going on in Pelzer’s life (Pelzer, 1995). The other family members appeared to support the abuse. However, he kept his hopes alive throughout the period. He later finds refuge in a foster care center. It was from this setting that he managed to remodel his life.

Feelings Aroused by the Reading: Identifying With the Situation

The events described in this book are horrific and unimaginable. What makes the story sympathetic is that the victim suffers in the hands of people who should provide adequate support to him. It would be painful for a child to be abused by his or her own mother (Pelzer, 1995). As I was reading the book, I found it extremely hard to imagine the kind of torture or suffering experienced by the child. It is clear that the victim started to face such challenges at such a tender age.

The fact that Pelzer’s mother changed from a caring and friendly mother to a monster is quite alarming. The alcoholic mother used dirty tricks to punish him for no apparent reason. It is hard to believe that the other members of the family were unable to intervene and help the child (Pelzer, 1995). The victim became inattentive in class and incapable of achieving his educational objectives. The memoir is, therefore, emotional since it captures the sufferings experienced by a young boy who could not fight back.

The feelings aroused by the book have compelled me to think of various situations whereby I was abused as a child. Personally, my parents used to punish me after committing certain offenses or mistakes. However, it is worth pointing out that such punishments were experiences by every child in the family (Vujovic, 2017). This understanding is what compels me to think deeply about the pains inflicted on Pelzer as a young boy.

Parents should be loving and caring. However, alcoholism and drug use in families tend to catalyze various forms of abuse or mistreatment. It is agreeable that Pelzer’s mother was suffering from alcoholism (Vujovic, 2017). This is a serious disorder that can be used to explain why she became extremely abusive. The story of Pelzer also echoes the experiences of many people who have grown up in families characterized by abusive parents.

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Relating the Reading to the Course Content

The issues revealed in this book appear to elaborate the theories and concepts studied in class. For instance, the class materials have examined how child abuse is one of the risk factors for engaging in a wide range of delinquent behaviors (Vujovic, 2017). The experiences and pains encountered by Pelzer can result in delinquent behaviors. The information obtained from this memoir can be analyzed critically in an attempt to understand the issues associated with juvenile delinquency.

Different theories and concepts involved with childhood delinquency acknowledge that young people who receive inadequate support might have significant challenges as adults. The provision of care can ensure individuals who are abused at a young age realize their potential. It is evident that Pelzer benefited from the interventions implemented after it was observed that she was living in an abusive family (Pelzer, 1995). This process shows conclusively that children should be guided and encouraged to pursue their objectives without any form of mistreatment.

Communities should use powerful initiatives to identify children who might be facing similar challenges. Every affected child must be provided with adequate help become he or she becomes an adult. This kind of support will ensure the child recovers from their past experiences (Pelzer, 1995). Failure to offer this kind of help will ensure the victims have increased chances of becoming deviant. This analysis is a clear indication that the issues, support systems, and challenges described in the memoir can be used to expound the concepts studied in class.

Evaluation and Expanding the Situation

Pelzer’s experiences and abuses are unimaginable and hard to come into terms with. These horrific happenings disoriented his life and potential as a schooling child. This kind of torture appears to reveal most of the pains encountered by many children in different abusive families. What comes out clearly from the book is that most of the affected children suffer in silence. This happens to be the case because many obnoxious relatives and parents use various strategies to threaten their victims (Vujovic, 2017). This situation should empower more people to come up with better initiatives to identify individuals who might be living in abusive families. The next step should be to support the affected children in order to realize their goals. The initiative will make it easier for more children to become responsible adults who do not engage in criminal behaviors.

The story of Dave Pelzer should be considered in an attempt to expand this situation. The memoir raises unanswered questions that can be utilized by researchers to ensure appropriate support is available to more people. For instance, the story can be used by interventionists to develop specific models that can be used to spot children who are living in violent settings (Vujovic, 2017). This knowledge can be used to guide different community members to monitor and report any form of child abuse. Individuals who receive the right care will be in a position to pursue their aims. Consequently, every society will be empowered to tackle the predicament of juvenile delinquency.


Pelzer, D. (1995). A child called “it”. Omaha, NE: Omaha Press.

Vujovic, T. (2017). Child abuse by parents and its influence on the development of juvenile delinquency. Education Sciences & Society, 8(1), 89-102. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, May 31). A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/a-child-called-it-by-dave-pelzer/

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"A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer." StudyCorgi, 31 May 2021, studycorgi.com/a-child-called-it-by-dave-pelzer/.

1. StudyCorgi. "A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer." May 31, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/a-child-called-it-by-dave-pelzer/.


StudyCorgi. "A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer." May 31, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/a-child-called-it-by-dave-pelzer/.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer." May 31, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/a-child-called-it-by-dave-pelzer/.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer'. 31 May.

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