Term Paper On Turning Stones By Marc Parent


The paper analyzes the book Turning Stones: My Days and Nights with Children at Risk by Marc Parent. Marc Parent basis this book on his experience as a social service caseworker. His job involved barging into homes in the middle of the night to wake up its inhabitants, strip them down and look for marks, among other things, on their bodies. In the book Marc expresses that protecting children is a challenging and arduous job. You don’t know what you are dealing with until you are there-in the thick of it. No one can tell you that which can help you to guess what transpires when you are performing your duty. A total of five articles, comprising of both book reviews and journal articles, have been used to expound on what exactly it was that Marc Parent was trying to achieve with his book.

Literature Review

Parent, with an apropos name, conveys heart-wrenching incidents, such as an eight-year-old holds a younger brother at knife point, three small children watch their older sister throw herself out of a sixth-floor window at their mother’s command, a girl with STD states she has not been sexually abused, and so on and so forth. (Levinson, 1997)

The questions raised in the book pertain to as to why the mistreatment and abuse of children are allowed to continue, why are they still dying or suffer from irreparable psychological damage , etc. The answers Parent offers are not new—imperfect human nature and the flawed systems it creates. We know that because of budget constraints and the conspiracy of ills plaguing inner cities, social workers carry too heavy a case load. Moreover, Emergency Children’s Services staff members see any given child only once before that child is transferred to another office, another worker, preventing continuity of observation. (Harrison, 1996)

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The book is perhaps to be praised most for its sheer absence of moral certainty- and that is meant in a positive sense. It is difficult to find a book that simply relives experiences as they occurred, with very few political connotations, and almost no preaching at all. Turning Stones is a story of what happens to kids in danger before the stories make it to the newspapers, before the taxing procedures of Family Court begin. Conversational in tone, but at the end of the day, utterly serious, this is an easy read that a person will not get over for quite some time. (McCurry, 1996)

In the book the reader will find the story of a mother who, anticipating Armageddon, urged her five children to jump out a 23rd story window—two leaped before help arrived. Another woman, convinced that she was cursed and seeing blood on the walls and broken glass in the food, had barricaded herself and her hungry children inside their apartment, etc. These are some of the incidents that the author considers the most tragic and dramatic of the hundreds of cases he encountered. So it cannot be ignored that this is a compelling book—a result of Parent’s self-analysis. (Kirkus, 1996)


Parent’s job as a child abuse inspector was to attend to and act on reports of children in grave danger, and then come to save them. Parent performed his duty in New York a city comprising of more than seven million people. And besides him, there were fifteen other members in his team. This book is a chronicle of the issues that he encountered during his service; it was his attempt to make people give some thought to the victims of child abuse in a heartfelt way. The book is tragic and makes for an unpleasant read, but it is a book that ought to be read—if for nothing else then for its sheer honesty. It is important for people to feel for the children who are suffering; children whose voices go unheard; children who are all but a victim of their circumstances.

The book is fairly detailed. Parcel begins the book from the perspective of the children, and then gradually, he elaborates on their experiences. Parcel is conscientious enough to not place the blame for the suffering of these young children on a particular person. He exposes the events as they had transpired, and then places the onus on the reader to formulate his or her own opinion of the situation. People who work in the field of child abuse are underappreciated and their contribution goes unrecognized. This work is dangerous yet noble with little on the side of rewards-monetary or otherwise. The book is easy to comprehend and the fact that it is well-documented enables the readers to get a taste of the ground realities—as found in the cases that Parcel attends to. The book is a call to action for the entire nation and must be looked at as one.

The book leaves us with the hope that despite unpromising conditions, progress can be made and changes brought forth. Parent chooses a total of eight incidents to showcase how the society condones extreme atrocities to happen. Within the book, on the personal front, Parent battles with the painful question of how he himself was unable to save a child. Hence, it is the fact that the book hits close to home that marks it as a hard to forget read.


Marc worked for four years as a caseworker in New York’s Emergency Children’s Services, due to which he is able to remind us that inside even the most bureaucratic of institutions humans endeavor to do that which is just. In his book which is both driving and dampening, Parent has presented us with a unique insight into what it is like to patrol these forefronts of the battle against child abuse, and the repercussions it has for a person who works there twenty-four seven. The book ‘Turning Stones’ is a gut-wrenching read, mostly exhilarating, on occasions pain inducing enough to be put aside. (Humes, 1996)

Parent is not a literary genius or a wordsmith, what makes him and his book stand out and deliver is the authenticity with which he discusses the issues at hand. He shows compassion, simplicity, and truth in his writing. Moreover, Parent is a selfless person with an altruistic streak. He has an open heart and a generous soul. ‘Turning Stones’ is his effort to make people conscious of their own lack of awareness with regard to their insufficiency when it comes to protecting the lives of innocent children. Through his book, Parent endeavors to sensitize people by rendering faces to the children whose lives have been destroyed, so that these people are propelled to do for these children that which they would do for those whom they love and care about.


Levinson, M. H. (1997). Turning Stones: My Days and Nights With Children at Risk. et Cetera, 54(3), 375.
Harrison, K. (1996, November 10). Death at an Early Age. New York .
Humes, E. (1996, October 27). Los Angles Times. Retrieved June 28, 2018, from LAT Colletions: http://articles.latimes.com/1996-10-27/books/bk-58144_1_marc-parent
Kirkus. (1996, July 1). Kirkus Review . Retrieved June 28, 2018, from Kirkus Web site: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/marc-parent/turning-stones/
McCurry, R. K. (1997). Book Review [Turning Stones: My Days and Nights with Children at Risk]. Santa Carla Law Review , 4.

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