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A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive

A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive

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A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive

ratings:
3/5 (2,302 ratings)
Length:
132 pages
2 hours
Released:
Jan 1, 2010
ISBN:
9780757396076
Format:
Book

Description

Written by Scribd Editors

Author Dave Pelzer shares his story of child abuse in his novel A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive. In one of California's most severe child abuse cases in history, Pelzer is brutally beaten and starved by his alcoholic mother, who plays evil games on him as he is just a boy, leaving him nearly dead.

In a family of four, Pelzer is the only child their mother abuses. The alcoholic father does the absolute bare minimum to help the boy and absolutely nothing to stop the mother from her abuse.

Pelzer's only saving grace is his father, who helps him because he knows what his mother does to the boy while the father is away. Horrible punishments like stabbings or burns from hot burners on his bare bottom.

A Child Called It tells the first-hand account of child abuse and addresses the strength needed to withstand it.

Released:
Jan 1, 2010
ISBN:
9780757396076
Format:
Book

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A Child Called It - Dave Pelzer

18.

CHAPTER

1

The

Rescue

March 5, 1973, Daly City, California—I’m late. I’ve got to finish the dishes on time, otherwise no breakfast; and since I didn’t have dinner last night, I have to make sure I get something to eat. Mother’s running around yelling at my brothers. I can hear her stomping down the hallway towards the kitchen. I dip my hands back into the scalding rinse water. It’s too late. She catches me with my hands out of the water.

SMACK! Mother hits me in the face, and I topple to the floor. I know better than to stand there and take the hit. I learned the hard way that she takes that as an act of defiance, which means more hits, or worst of all, no food. I regain my posture and dodge her looks, as she screams into my ears.

I act timid, nodding to her threats. Please, I say to myself, just let me eat. Hit me again, but I have to have food. Another blow pushes my head against the tile counter top. I let the tears of mock defeat stream down my face as she storms out of the kitchen, seemingly satisfied with herself. After I count her steps, making sure she’s gone, I breathe a sigh of relief. The act worked. Mother can beat me all she wants, but I haven’t let her take away my will to somehow survive.

I finish the dishes, then my other chores. For my reward I receive breakfast—leftovers from one of my brother’s cereal bowls. Today it’s Lucky Charms. There are only a few bits of cereal left in a half of a bowl of milk, but as quickly as I can, I swallow it before Mother changes her mind. She has done that before. Mother enjoys using food as her weapon. She knows better than to throw leftovers in the garbage can. She knows I’ll dig it out later. Mother knows most of my tricks.

Minutes later I’m in the old family station wagon. Because I’m so late with my chores, I have to be driven to school. Usually I run to school, arriving just as class begins, with no time to steal any food from other kids’ lunch boxes.

Mother drops my oldest brother off, but keeps me for a lecture about her plans for me tomorrow. She is going to take me to her brother’s house. She says Uncle Dan will take care of me. She makes it a threat. I give her a frightened look as if I am truly afraid. But I know that even though my uncle is a hard-nosed man, he surely won’t treat me like Mother does.

Before the station wagon comes to a complete stop, I dash out of the car. Mother yells for me to return. I have forgotten my crumpled lunch bag, which has always had the same menu for the last three years—two peanut butter sandwiches and a few carrot sticks. Before I bolt out of the car again, she says, Tell ‘em … Tell ‘em you ran into the door. Then in a voice she rarely uses with me, she states, Have a nice day. I look into her swollen red eyes. She still has a hangover from last night’s stupor. Her once beautiful, shiny hair is now frazzled clumps. As usual, she wears no makeup. She is overweight, and she knows it. In all, this has become Mother’s typical look.

Because I am so late, I have to report to the administrative office. The gray-haired secretary greets me with a smile. Moments later, the school nurse comes out and leads me into her office, where we go through the normal routine. First, she examines my face and arms. What’s that above your eye? she asks.

I nod sheepishly, Oh, I ran into the hall door … by accident.

Again she smiles and takes a clipboard from the top of a cabinet. She flips though a page or two, then bends down to show me. Here, she points to the paper, You said that last Monday. Remember?

I quickly change my story, I was playing baseball and got hit by the bat. It was an accident. Accident. I am always supposed to say that. But the nurse knows better. She scolds me so I’ll tell the truth. I always break down in the end and confess, even though I feel I should protect my mother.

The nurse tells me that I’ll be fine and asks me to take off my clothes. We have been doing this since last year, so I immediately obey. My long-sleeve shirt has more holes than Swiss cheese. It’s the same shirt I’ve worn for about two years. Mother has me wear it every day as her way to humiliate me. My pants are just as bad, and my shoes have holes in the toes. I can wiggle my big toe out of one of them. While I stand clothed only in my underwear, the nurse records my various marks and bruises on the clipboard. She counts the slash-like marks on my face, looking for any she might have missed in the past. She is very thorough. Next, the nurse opens my mouth to look at my teeth that are chipped from having been slammed against the kitchen tile counter top. She jots a few more notes on the paper. As she continues to look me over, she stops at the old scar on my stomach. And that, she says as she takes a deep swallow, is where she stabbed you?

Yes, ma’am, I reply. Oh no! I tell myself, I’ve done something wrong … again. The nurse must have seen the concern in my eyes. She puts the clipboard down and hugs me. God, I tell myself, She is so warm. I don’t want to let go. I want to stay in her arms forever. I hold my eyes tightly shut, and for a few moments nothing else exists. She pats my head. I flinch from the swollen bruise Mother gave me this morning. The nurse then breaks the embrace and leaves the room. I rush to put my clothes back on. She doesn’t know it, but I do everything as fast as possible.

The nurse returns in a few minutes with Mr. Hansen the principal, and two of my teachers, Miss Woods and Mr. Ziegler. Mr. Hansen knows me very well. I’ve been in his office more than any other kid in school. He looks at the paper, as the nurse reports her findings. He lifts my chin. I’m afraid to look into his eyes, which is mostly a habit from trying to deal with my mother. But it’s also because I don’t want to tell him anything. Once, about a year ago, he called Mother to ask about my bruises. At that time, he had no idea what was really going on. He just knew I was a troubled kid who was stealing food. When I came to school the next day, he saw the results of Mother’s beatings. He never called her again.

Mr. Hansen barks he’s had enough of this. I almost leap out of my skin with fear. He’s going to call Mother again! my brain screams. I break down and cry. My body shakes like jello and I mumble like a baby, begging Mr. Hansen not to phone Mother. Please! I whine, Not today! Don’t you understand, it’s Friday?

Mr. Hansen assures me he’s not going to call Mother, and sends me off to class. Since it’s too late for homeroom class, I sprint directly to Mrs. Woodworth’s English class. Today’s a spelling test on all the states and their capitals. I’m not prepared. Usually I’m a very good student, but for the past few months I gave up on everything in my life, including escaping my misery through my school-work.

Upon entering the room, all the students plug their noses and hiss at me. The substitute teacher, a younger woman, waves her hands in front of her face. She’s not used to my smell. At arm’s length she hands my test to me, but before I can take my seat in the back of the class by an open window, I’m summoned back to the principal’s office. The entire room lets out a howl at me—the reject of the fifth grade.

I run to the administration office, and I’m there in a flash. My throat is raw and still burns from yesterday’s game Mother played against me. The secretary leads me into the teachers’ lounge. After she opens the door, it takes a moment for my eyes to adjust. In front of me, sitting around a table, are my homeroom teacher Mr. Ziegler, my math teacher Miss Moss, the school nurse, Mr. Hansen and a police officer. My feet become frozen. I don’t know whether to run away or wait for the roof to cave in. Mr. Hansen waves me in, as the secretary closes the door behind me. I take a seat at the head of the table, explaining I didn’t steal anything … today. Smiles break everyone’s depressed frowns. I have no idea that they are about to risk their jobs to save me.

The police officer explains why Mr. Hansen called him. I can feel myself shrink into the chair. The officer asks that I tell him about Mother. I shake my head no. Too many people already know the secret, and I know she’ll find out. A soft voice calms me. I think it’s Miss Moss. She tells me it’s all right. I take a deep breath, wring my hands and reluctantly tell them about Mother and me. Then the nurse has me stand up and show the policeman the scar on my chest. Without hesitation, I tell them it was an accident; which it was—Mother never meant to stab me. I cry as I spill my guts, telling them Mother punishes me because I am bad. I wish they would leave me alone. I feel so slimy inside. I know after all these years there is nothing anyone can do.

A few minutes later, I am excused to sit in the outer office. As I close the door, all the adults look at me and shake their heads in an approving way. I fidget in my chair, watching the secretary type papers. It seems forever before Mr. Hansen calls me back into the room. Miss Woods and Mr. Ziegler leave the lounge. They seem happy, but at the same time worried. Miss Woods kneels

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Reviews

What people think about A Child Called It

3.1
2302 ratings / 147 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    A Child Called “It” provides a first hand account of abuse and the strength it takes to withstand it. Full of power and emotions, the story leaves some questions as to why certain things happened, yet it perfectly describes life in that some things don’t have answers.
  • (5/5)
    “A Child Called ‘It’” was an extraordinary and eye-opening book. This book opened my eyes to the cruelty of this world. I sympathized so much with Dave throughout the book because it was so much tragedy and heartache that he had to endure. After reading this book, I decided that I wanted to adopt a child later in life and change their lives for the better. This book is definitely for middle school grades and older because of the horrible actions his mother did to him.
  • (5/5)
    The book “A child called It” by David Pelzer is a breathtaking non-fiction story about a young boy name Dave who is abused by his own mother. Dave looks up to his father as someone who can protect him from being stabbed or having to sit butt naked on a hot burner because the mother wouldn't do such harsh punishments when the father was around. Dave’s father would help him out because he knew what the mother did to him when he was away, he would help him with the dishes and doing his daily chores. Dave had tough times at school and ends up in the principal's office a lot because he would steal food from the nearby supermarket during recess and take sandwiches or whatever he could grab out of classmates lunch boxes during lunch. He would take the food because he knew that he wouldn't get anything for supper other than occasionally scraps of food that were left overs from his two brothers but normally he would be sitting in the garage on his cot. I really enjoyed reading this book and I would highly recommend it to Middle schoolers and high schoolers because of some of the things the mother does.
  • (3/5)
    the book was a good book and i thought i was a little sad but good. it shows how people child hoods can be like and that everyone as some problems in there life.
  • (4/5)
    Written from a child's perspective, this book is true and a powerful unfolding of one case of child abuse. In Dave's family of 4, he is the only abused child. His alcoholic mother is the abuser, but his alcoholic father does nothing to stop her. What's appalling is that it took so long for anyone to notice or do anything about it. Dave's abuse was obvious at school especially. His mother would have killed him if he hadn't had such a fighting spirit.

    Dave grew up to do wonderful things, a miracle in itself considering all he suffered. We all need to read books like this and understand that children are everyone's business. When child abuse is this obvious, we can't leave the child in that situation.
  • (4/5)
    This memoir describes one of the worst documented cases of child abuse in California history. Dave Pelzer was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother. She would play tortuous games with him that left him almost dead, games that he would learn to play in order to survive.

    It's disgusting how someone can treat another human being like this, especially their own child.
  • (4/5)
    I read this years ago and saw it in the library yesterday and decided to revisit it. The author tells about his life of extreme child abuse at home while a young boy from the age of 4 to 12 years old before being rescued by a school teacher and put into foster care. His mother in his very early years was a nurturing and loving mother, but turned into an abusive alcoholic who forced him to wear worn out clothes, beat him severely, starved him and forced him to eat feces from his brother's diaper, his own vomit after stealing frozen hot dogs from school and puts him in the bathroom with a ghastly mixture of clorox and ammonia.It is gut-wrenching, riveting, but also inspirational as he is determined not to let his mother take control of him and turns is label of "bad boy" and is motivated to overcome whatever trials he is faced with and rise above it.
  • (4/5)
    A difficult read, but one cannot help but admire the courage Mr. Pelzer demonstrated as a child and later as an adult.
  • (5/5)
    CB: Realistic FictionThis is a book about a young child who suffers from abuse from his mother with a father who is complacent and careless. He is faced with many obstacles between abuse, neglect, and family violence. This is a great book for troubled students to read on how to get out of an abusive life style.
  • (5/5)
    Definitiv kein Buch für schwache Nerven - es ist schon Jahre her, dass ich es gelesen habe, aber ich bin noch immer erschüttert, wenn ich daran denke. Nahezu unglaublich finde ich, dass ein einziger Tag, in dem sie sich um ihn kümmerte dazu ausreichte, dass er gegenüber der Frau vom Jugendamt sagte, er wäre glücklich - und nur Minuten nach deren Weggang bereits wieder misshandelt wurde....
  • (5/5)
    David Pelzer book A Child Called 'It' takes you into a world of child abuse that you never thought exist. It is a very heart-wrenching tale of young David's life at the hands of his mother. hard to put down and a sad page turner that not only gives insight into the world of child abuse, but how other people view it and may or may not help until it is too late.
  • (5/5)
    I first read this book in the sixth grade and I loved it! I've read it many many more times after that! Great book about child abuse. Too bad it really happened!
  • (5/5)
    Book review by Danielle S., posted by CA Library:"The book A Child Called It is a fantastic book written by David Pelzer. I loved the way he wrote down his everyday life with such detail throughout his childhood years.It is a very heart compelling book. I would definitely recommend this book to teens and adults. I would also recommend this book who like stories about abused and beaten kids with happy endings. The way he wrote A Child Called It makes me feel as if I knew him or like he was family. The book starts off in the future and then redirects back into the past. I can not wait to read the other books and see how his life continues after he went to the adoption agency. The story made me realize how bad some people have it and that sometimes no one, not even family notices. Or that so many kids don’t speak up about abuse; even when they are beaten almost to death. The only complaint I would have is that I do not have any complaints. I would rate the book a tem out of ten."
  • (5/5)
    This book REALLY made me appreciate everything I have. This book made me realize what I have to be grateful for the things I have in my life. The fight the boy had to go through makes us love him more and more. 5/5 DR (9th grade) I chose this book because it was recommended by a friend. AG
  • (5/5)
    This book is about David Pelzer who faced horrible abiuse. I read this book just recently my mom was a social worker and told me to read it. This book is so sad the mom was a good mom at the begining but then she really became a horrible monster, she would submerge David in freezing cold water, make him sit on a burning stove, stabbed him, made him eat his throw up and etc. This book is not for someone who is very weak minded. My Personal Reaction: This book saddened me because kids really do live this way and are sometimes not saved for many years. Although it was a great book it is not for Elementary students to read more for High school aged children and up. I have also read the sequels to this book and they are just as amazing!Classroom extensions: Could be for high school students to write how this book made them feel.
  • (5/5)
    This story broke my heart, reading about the abuse that took place. Maybe this book well help some people who suffer from abuse or ones that are the abusers.
  • (4/5)
    Dave Pelzer had a loving family (mom, dad, brothers) when he was little, but something in his mother changed when he hit about 4 or 5 years old. Suddenly, she would single him out and beat him savagely... He was ordered to sleep in the garage or basement – he was only allowed inside to do chores, he was treated as a slave. He was “punished” often and cruelly, he would often not be fed (for days at a time). And there's more! Only Dave was singled out for this treatment, not his brothers. He was an outcast in his own home. His father was no help. This is his story from when he was little until he was finally “rescued” by his teachers in grade 5.This was horrifying, I don't even know what else to say about it. This is the first in a trilogy of Dave's life. My one “complaint” about the book – his story could probably be told in one book, rather than three. However, it was very fast to read because it was so short.
  • (5/5)
    > Read for a class during my Education degree.
  • (5/5)
    I was asked to read this book while I was training to be a CASA (court appointed special advocate) volunteer several years ago. This book has reamined in my mind ever since. Although a disturbing read I believe everyone should read this book in order to fully appreciate how a child thinks when going through something as traumatic as child abuse. It truly shows that no matter what an abusive parent does to a child that child still loves and yearns for acceptance from their abuser/parent. Not for the faint of heart but an essential read all the same.
  • (4/5)
    This was a really strong book. but it was good. it tells you about how the little boy had to live in a abusive home with his drunk mother. and no one at school pays any attention. but finally someone does and they want to tell the cops but the boy is to scared to tell them, cause then he will get beat even more. when you read this book you will be really shocked, because you will see that no matter what a drunk/abusive parent does to their child, the child will still love and want to be loved by that abusive parent. i cried so much while reading this book. i understand exactly why he wants to still show love and wants to get love back from his mother, because i am going threw what he went threw to. so i understand why he is trying so hard to get his mothers love. every child wants the love of their parent, even if the parent is abusive and drinks alot.
  • (5/5)
    This is a tragic but inspirational story of a young boy who was abused by his mother and how he survived and escaped his tormented childhood. It may make you cry, maybe even angry that a mother could be so cruel to her child, but it will definitely make you smile at the courage of this young boy. There are additional titles that detail the life of this boy through adolescence and adulthood; an inspiration human being. I would definitely recommend.
  • (4/5)
    Obviously this was a very hard book to read... yet it was written for younger readers so it was horrible, yet not graphic. I think he did a great job of relating the pain, anger, and fear of his childhood in a way young people today will understand and be outraged by without being so specific and graphic as to scar readers for life. Overall, it's quite a book.
  • (4/5)
    this book was a sad book and is a good book.the good things was how the writer used good discription and the story kept me reading.
  • (4/5)
    Memoir. Makes you question whether we should in fact have some sort of application process for childbearing, because obviously some people should not be allowed to have children. What Dave Pelzer endures as a child is remarkable.
  • (4/5)
    A Child Called "It" is a story about a boy who is abused by his mother growing up. It's a really good book, but I think only older teens should read it. It has a lot of swear words in it.
  • (4/5)
    It is good it is about a boy who gets abused so if you like those books then read them.
  • (4/5)
    This book is shocking on so many levels. The first thing is- how could this slip past authorities for five years? It's somewhat shocking that he didn't die. How, when school authorities did know what happened, was it that his mother was never locked up? People need to read this- to know what's out there, and to stop it from happening again.
  • (2/5)
    Not my favorite book, I did not find it well written. There were gaps in the story and too many unanswered questions the big one being why did the mother only abuse one child?
  • (4/5)
    a child called it is a horrifyingly sad story that was written terrificly. Dave gets abused by his always drunk mother. The dad is gone and Dave has a very hard time living in the basement. This book makes me very fortunate for my life.
  • (4/5)
    Wow, how sad. How can a parent put any human being, never mind their own child through that?? Sad, sad, sad, but good.