Graduate Research Papers


Open Access Graduate Research Paper


This research study was conducted to determine how child abuse was portrayed in fiction literature for children in Kindergarten through 6th grade. Sixteen novels published in or after 1978 were analyzed. All of the titles were located through the use of selective bibliographies and were positively reviewed in Booklist or School Library Journal. The novels focused on the victims of child abuse who were at least one of the main characters and who spent at least part of the book in the abusive environment.

Psychological, physical, and sexual abuse and neglect were all evident in the children's novels, with psychological abuse in every book. The pictures created by the authors of children's novels were basically realistic. The characters of the victims of abuse exhibited the realistic characteristics of a low self-concept, distrust of others, aggression, withdrawal, and an inability to express their feelings. A majority of the novels present some form of a positive ending to the stories.

The novels analyzed neither portrayed the characters of the abusers realistically nor unrealistically. The abusers did not play any major role outside of the occurrences of abuse. The novels did not demonstrate that child abuse crosses all socioeconomic levels. All the victims of child abuse and their families in the novels analyzed were in the lower and middle social class. None was in the upper class, which eliminates the upper class from involvement in child abuse in these books.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Library Science

First Advisor

Elizabeth Martin


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Date Original


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