Gil (1996) also points out the scarcity of research pertaining to adolescent abuse and says, " this may reflect the lack of concern about the plight of older youngsters, who are perceived by many as less vulnerable, more resourceful, and more capable of self - protection than younger children" (p. 50).
Gil begins the book by outlining the case of Jennifer, who was subject to sexual abuse from the age of 2. Having run away from home and several foster homes, she turned to prostitution and panhandling and becomes pregnant by the age of 13. Jennifer was a seemingly hopeless case as she had suffered too long and too deeply. Yet she dug deep within and found the courage to cope with her problems effectively. On this inspiring note, Gil proceeds to give an overview of the book. She describes the term "adolescence" and gives us a history of its roots, explaining how social and political movements and changes have influenced our perception and understanding of these individuals.
Adolescence is a crucial developmental period in the life of the individual and traumatic events that disrupt normal development may have lifelong implications for the victim. This is therefore a serious issue and one that has been largely ignored because of existing misconceptions about adolescents who are in a delicate transitional phase, where they are neither children nor adults. Many people credit them with a maturity that is actually far beyond their years and are not cognizant of their innate vulnerability and therefore treat them with barely veiled hostility and suspicion. The shocking fact is that many professionals have the same misguided notions about adolescents. Gil (996) tells the case of a professional who said, "'That girl knew what she wanted and knew how to get it', in regard to a case of incest in which the father gave his daughter expensive gifts" (p.14). She calls for a change in this attitude and bias towards adolescent victims and points out the need for further studies and research to help them.
The second chapter is entitled Theories of Adolescent Development and has been compiled with Karren Campbell. In this chapter Gil (1996) stresses that "A thorough knowledge of theories of development is essential for those who work with adolescents, particularly when it is likely that the developmental process of many such adolescents has been disrupted or compromised by maltreatment" (p. 23). Drawing from her knowledge on the available research material and referring to the work done on the subject, she analyses the factors that make adolescents vulnerable to abuse and the symptoms of abuse that are most likely to be manifested. She traces the developmental stages of adolescents and explores the hurdles and difficulties that are likely to hamper progress as the adolescent makes the journey from childhood to adulthood.
In the third chapter Gil makes a distinction between current and cumulative abuse of adolescents. Current abuse of adolescents refers to those who suffer abuse only during their adolescent years, whereas cumulative abuse refers to those who have been exposed to sustained or intermittent abuse from their early childhood. With regard to the former instance, abuse is