Trending on Facebook: yet again, parents charged with abuse inflicted upon young children. Revolting. Disgusting. We scroll past the headlines. Child abuse is not something we want to think about, talk about, or even know about.
But whether or not it is discussed, child abuse is an epidemic on the rise. The United States is among the worst of the developed nations with five children dying everyday from abuse and neglect. In this past year, the number of children involved in reports of abuse rose from 6.6 million to 7.2 million.
Child abuse comes in the form of neglect and physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. The younger and more vulnerable the child, the higher the rate of abuse. Over a quarter of victims are under three years old; 24.2% are less than one year old.
This abuse not only robs victims of their childhood, but also of their future. For individuals affected, child abuse paves the way for a lifetime of mental health issues, sexual and reproductive issues, and an increased likelihood of substance abuse and criminality. Reports of six or more incidents of abuse are tied to a two decade decrease in life expectancy.
As a nation, we want to protect innocent children from evil abusers. But what happens when the perpetrator is the child’s caretaker? Almost 40% of abusers are the parent or guardian of the victim, while a total of 90% are in some way related to the victim.
Despite the prevalence and severity of this issue, it is still largely a dirty secret, underreported. An estimated 50% of maltreatment fatalities are not recorded on death certificates.
Working to build a society in which victims are protected and perpetrators are brought to justice involves working to spark conversation about these scarcely discussed, yet preventable incidents.
Boldly confronting this seldom confronted issue, Writer/Producer, David Goldblum, and his business partner, Dom Laurin, have acquired the film rights to A Child Called “It”, a heart-stopping, compelling story of a child whose courage and unyielding determination enabled him to survive extreme life-threatening odds.
Goldblum says, “This is a hidden epidemic that is only getting worse. Our hope with [the project] is to bring this issue to light so that the millions of abused children who suffer in silence realize that they are not alone.”
Written by internationally bestselling author Dave Pelzer, A Child Called “It” chronicles the harrowing, unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history. Pelzer was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother - who played tortuous, unpredictable games. She no longer considered Dave a son, but a slave; no longer a boy but an “it.” The outside world knew nothing of the nightmare played out behind closed doors. But throughout, Dave kept alive dreams of finding a family to love him. This book covers the early years of his life and is an affecting and inspirational story of the horrors of child abuse and the steadfast determination of one child to survive.
A Child Called “It” was on the New York Times Best Seller List for a record-setting 6 plus years and is the #2 most checked out book in school libraries behind only To Kill A Mockingbird. The book has a massive fan base, and it has made a phenomenal impact around the world. The US sales are over 5.5 million, and it has been translated into over 25 languages. For many years, A Child Called “It” was the # 1 bestseller in the UK, as well as in Japan, Australia, India, Ireland and Europe.
Tamlin Hall, a UCLA MFA Screenwriting graduate and Humanitas Prize winner, has attached to direct the film adaptation of the book. His film, Holden On, starring Matthew Fahey (MTV’s “Awkward”) premiered at the 2017 Atlanta Film Festival.
The film is based on a true story about a teenager who fights to keep his mental illness a secret at all costs. A Child Called “It” tells a powerful story that will serve as an attempt to expand the dialogue of this taboo subject. It is important that victims feel more comfortable beginning a discussion, and that bystanders feel required to take action. A Child Called “It” seeks to provide the public with a glimpse into this hidden, disturbing reality.