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Current Controversies on Family Violence

Current Controversies on Family Violence

Second Edition
  • Donileen R. Loseke - University of South Florida, USA
  • Richard J. Gelles - University of Pennsylvania, USA, University of Rhode Island, USA
  • Mary M. Cavanaugh - Hunter College, City University of New York, USA, University of California, Berkeley, USA, University of Pennsylvania, USA

September 2004 | 400 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc


"These essays are exemplary in conceptualization, organization, and delivery. The messages are crystal clear, the readability superb. This book stands as a model of editorial excellence. The design of the volume is unique and responds well to a clear need in the subdiscipline of family violence, which remains fraught with diversity and dissention. . . . This piece of work is honest and effectively illuminates the growing pains of a very young and ideologically loaded subdiscipline that is anchored by an interdisciplinary and heterogeneous collection of smart people. Current Controversies on Family Violence is a powerful addition to the family violence literature. I recommend it as required reading for family violence courses. Gelles and Loseke are to be commended for their excellent idea, their tenacity, their directness and candor as expressed in the framing materials, their sensitive insights, and their superb editorial skills."

--Ann Goetting, Western Kentucky University

"Gelles and Loseke accomplish their goal of encouraging debate among family violence researchers....does the best job I have seen at presenting the spectrum of approaches to the problem in a fair objective outstanding contribution to family violence research."


The study of family violence is surrounded by multiple controversies. Experts in this field do not agree about what should be studied and condemned (Is spanking violence? Is women's violence toward men a major social problem? If it is, how should it be measured? What, specifically, should be condemned as date rape?)  Experts also disagree about the causes of violence (Individual pathology? The structure of gender or families?), as well as about what should be done to eliminate it (Do child sexual abuse education programs or family preservation programs work?).  Now in its Second Edition, Current Controversies on Family Violence contains thoughtful--often heated--discussions that highlight the most current controversies, research, and policy directions in the family violence area. This volume includes chapters by academic and public policy researchers, therapists, lawyers, victim advocates and educators. Some of the controversies in the First Edition have been deleted while new ones have been added. Chapters in this Second Edition also are shorter and more accessible to readers who are not already experts in family violence.

This is an excellent and necessary resource for students and researchers of interpersonal violence, sociology, social work, nursing, gender studies, clinical psychology, criminal justice, and gerontology.


Introduction: "Understanding Controversies on Family Violence"
Introduction to Section
Issue 1: Family Violence: What Type of a Problem is it?
Donald G. Dutton and Mark Bodnarchuk
1. Through a Psychological Lens: "Personality Disorder and Spouse Assault"
Kersti A. Yllö
2. Through a Feminist Lens: "Gender, Diversity, and Violence: Extending the Feminist Framework"
Donileen R. Loseke
3. Through a Sociological Lens: "The Complexities of Family Violence"
Issue 2: Women's Violence Toward Men: A Serious Social Problem?
Murray A. Straus
4. Women's Violence Towrad Men is a Serious Social Problem
Donileen R. Loseke and Demie Kurz
5. "Men's Violence Toward Women is the Serious Social Problem"
Issue 3: Date and Acquaintance Rape: Exaggerated Problems?
Mary P. Koss and Sarah L. Cook
6. "More Data Have Accumulated Supporting Date and Acquaintance Rape as Significant Problems"
Neil Gilbert
7. "Advocacy Research Overstates the Incidence of Date and Acquaintance Rape"
Issue 4: Spanking: Necessary and Effective?
John Rosemond
8. "Proper Socialization Requires Powerful Love and Equally Powerful Discipline"
Murray A. Straus
9. "Children Should Never, Ever, Be Spanked No Matter What the Circumstances"
Introduction to Section
Issue 5: Alcohol and Addictive Drugs: The Causes of Violence?
Jerry R. Flanzer
10. "Alcohol and Other Drugs are Key Causal Agents of Violence"
Richard J. Gelles and Mary M. Cavanaugh
11. "Association is not Causation: Alcohol and Other Drugs Do Not Cause Violence"
Issue 6: Abused Elderly and Their Abusive Offspring: Who is Dependent?
Suzanne K. Steinmetz
12. "Elder Abuse is Caused by the Perception of Stress Associated with Providing Care"
Karl Pillemer
13. "Elder Abuse is Caused by the Deviance and Dependence of Abusive Caregivers"
Introduction to Section
Sue Osthoff and Holly Maguigan
Issue 7: The Battered Woman's Syndrome: A Sensible Legal Defense?
Sue Osthoff and Holly Maguigan
14. The Self-Defense Claims of Battered Women
Donald A. Downs and James Fisher
15. "Battered Woman's Syndrome: Tool of Justice or False Hope in Self-Defense Cases?"
Issue 8: Child Sexual Abuse Education: Good Prevention?
Carol A. Plummer
16. "Child Sexual Abuse Prevention is Appropriate and Successful"
N. Dickon Reppucci, Jeffrey J. Haugaard, Jill Antonishak
17. "Problems with Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Programs"
Issue 9: Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting: Too Much or Too Little?

Issue 9: Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting: Too Much or Too Little?
Douglas J. Besharov
18. Overreporting and Underreporting Child Abuse and Neglect are Twin Problems
David Finkelhor
19. "The Main Problem is Underreporting Child Abuse and Neglect"
Issue 10: Family Preservation: An Important Goal in Child Abuse Intervention?
Richard Wexler
20. "Family Preservation is the Safest Way to Protect Most Children"
Richard J. Gelles
21. "Protecting Children is More Important than Preserving Families"
Conclusion: "Social Problems, Social Policies, and Controversies on Family Violence"
Editor's Bio's
Contributing Author Bios
Key features
  • This is the only collection of essays that explicitly considers the dimensions and sources of controversies in the study and understanding of many forms of family violence. 
  • Unlike the typical collection of readings that offer only one perspective on violence in general or on specific issues in particular, this collection contains manuscripts written by people with remarkably dissimilar views.     

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