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Review by Jean Labbe Retired Pediatrician Quebec, Canada

I highly recommend the new book edited by Lawrence R. Ricci to all people working in the field of child abuse and to everyone concerned by this major issue. This is a book about the reality of the young victims suffering and of the daily efforts of physicians who want to put an end to this suffering. As child abuse experts, you will recognize yourselves in every story of this book. People who are less familiar with this major issue will find the answer to this question we are so often asked : « How can you manage to work in the area of child abuse? »
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Review by Dick Watson LCSW Social Worker

“This book is very well written. It is concise yet inclusive. It will have meaning for the professional as well as the lay reader and very much so for the families who have struggled with abuse and neglect. Ricci is a scientist who always looks to the evidence. Even more impressive, he balances the science with the humanity as it is so clear how he cares about victims, survivors, families and other professionals. Child abuse is an issue which demands both emotion and research. Dr Ricci strikes this balance in a manner that will make entering the profession more doable and inviting for future doctors, social worker and psychologists. As such, his book has an impact not only on the current reader, but on generations to come. He has helped the families he has served and he has served the families he will never see. Many thanks to Dr Ricci for his work and his writing “
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Review by Kathleen Dynan conservative commentator

Through education and awareness, all of us can help save abused children.

This book deals with a very difficult subject, child abuse. Yet, it is very readable because the writing is impactful, but it is not overly dramatic or sensational. Unlike the media that focuses on the violent and sexual aspects of abuse to their ratings, Dr. Ricci educates us about those and also about the most common form of abuse, neglect that results in “a failure to thrive”.

What Happened in the Woodshed should be required reading for everyone who interfaces with children on a regular basis. Both knowing the signs of possible abuse and the importance of reporting it so that professionals can investigate, make us educated and aware adults. Such adults give children an additional layer of protection through intervention.

Dr. Ricci is asked “How can he and others do this work?” The better question would be “Knowing that many children are saved by their efforts, how can medical professionals in the field of child abuse not do this work?” They are owed our respect and gratitude for working to protect and save the most vulnerable human beings, children.  Read More 

Bill Nemitz article in the Portland Press Herald about my book

The following is from a March 2, 2018 Portland Press Herald commentary by Bill Nemitz after the recent horrific death of a 10 year old girl in Maine.

I also spoke with Dr. Lawrence Ricci, a longtime member of the (child death and serious injury) review panel and a national leader – in fact one of the founders – of the emerging field of child abuse pediatrics. “I think our responsibility, as simply citizens of the state, is to try to assure that our children are safe – not just our own personal children, but the children that we come into contact with,” Ricci told me. “What we know, from other cases all over the country, is that when you drill down into these cases, there were often many opportunities to intervene, to protect the child, that were missed.”

Ricci recently completed a book, scheduled for release this month by Praeger, called “What Happened in the Woodshed: The Secret Lives of Battered Children and a New Profession to Protect Them.” It’s 184 pages of real stories about real kids, buttressed by Ricci’s own reflections and those of 30 child abuse pediatricians the world over who have dedicated their lives to eradicating this blight on humanity. A central theme is that we as a society can protect our abused children only by working together across professions, across demographics, across the insidious power of denial.

The full commentary can be read here:

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Maine Voices: Preventing child abuse, neglect will require all of us working together By Lawrence R. Ricci Special to the Portland Press Herald published 6/11/18

I am a board-certified child abuse pediatrician who has practiced child abuse pediatrics in Maine for the past 30 years. I have evaluated many thousands of children for abuse and neglect. During that time, I have unfortunately also seen many children die from abuse. For every child who dies in Maine (an average of two to three per year), at least 50 sustain potentially life-threatening injuries and several hundred sustain some form of harm. According to the fourth National Incidence Study on Child Abuse and Neglect, by the time children reach age 18, well more than half will have experienced some form of abuse or neglect.

The deaths of 4-year-old Kendall Chick and 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy were unbearably tragic, but more than that, they were preventable. Although the details of these two deaths are not available, I can say with absolute certainty from my three decades as a child abuse pediatrician and member of the Maine Child Death and Serious Injury Review Panel that these and other children who die or who are seriously injured from abuse and neglect should not have died, should not have sustained life-threatening injuries and should be alive and well today.

Child abuse pediatrics, a subspecialty of pediatrics, was formally recognized by the American Board of Pediatrics in 2006. Approximately 200 of us became board certified in 2009, and there are close to 400 board-certified child abuse pediatricians in the United States today.

We are not only experts in the diagnosis of all forms of abuse but also routinely participate in prevention, education and advocacy. Many of us are researchers, and most are clinicians who evaluate children every day. As illustrated in my recent book “What Happened in the Woodshed: The Secret Lives of Battered Children and a New Profession to Protect Them,” child abuse pediatricians have emerged as a new and important force for child welfare in the United States.

I laud the work of the Office of Child and Family Services, the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee and the Office of Program Evaluation and Governmental Accountability for reviewing these two deaths. I have always appreciated Gov. LePage’s passion for protecting abused children. However, child safety VERSUS family preservation is the wrong terminology. The right terminology should be child safety AND family preservation. We know that children do better, all other things being equal, in their parents’ care. But they do not do better if they are not safe. And even if they’re safe – whether with the family, in kinship care or in foster car – no child does well unless they and their caretakers receive appropriate supports.
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