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Travels in the Trench Between  Child Welfare Theory and Practice

by George Thomas

Presented online in collaboration with the author and Haworth Press
by The Child Abuse Prevention Network

Acknowlegements  This work is an exposition of what I think now after having scrutinized
the meaning in my travels in the child welfare field. What I think is
of my own doing, but how I think I owe to many others I have met in my
travels who firmly believed in cultivating an inquiring state of mind
and who possessed the remarkable capacity to stimulate others to pursue
the same goal.

I think first of Rita Comarda at Tulane University who permitted
me the freedom to learn from my own boneheaded mistakes. This caused me
some grief, but it probably caused her far more grief than the “pain
in the tail” she occasionally complained about in my presence.

Then there were Martin Loeb and Alfred Kadushin at the University
of Wisconsin, Madison. Martin, forever cantankerous in posing alternative
views, stretched the mind beyond the comforts of single-mindedness and
made doing battle with one’s thoughts and presumptions an ingrained habit,
if not an always pleasurable one. Al Kadushin provided leavening for the
exhilaration of free pursuit and cantankerous battle by epitomizing in
his work the finest qualities a true scholar has to offer-reasoned fair
play and thoroughness in sifting fact from fancy.

Finally there was Margaret Blenkner-my “boss”-a term I still
use with affection to describe her. Small-mindedness was Margaret’s foe,
and in making it my own I found broader vistas and better ways to understand
events by placing them into context.

Whether what I have said in this book is deemed the product of
an open mind or not is open to questioning, but whether these outstanding
people, and more like them beyond mention, did their level best to implant
that frame of mind in me is not. For this I will remain permanently in
their debt.

I am also indebted to a half-dozen contemporary colleagues whose
work I deeply respect and whose kindness in taking time to review draft
copies of parts or all of this work I deeply appreciate. I have thanked
them all privately, and with respect for their privacy I will not name
them here. I see no good reason to link them to a work that is entirely
my responsibility, warts and all. They are, of course, free to publicly
expose themselves to whatever acclaim or rebuff might come their way by
declaring a connection with this work.

Thanks also go to Doug Magnuson, whose diligence and candor in
editing the manuscript made an immense difference in its readability,
and to Jerry Beker, who saw enough merit in it to see it through to publication.

In the end, I am indebted most to my wife Freida and three fine
young men: Our sons Brian, Zack, and Dominic. My debt to them is not so
much for their support while I was writing this, which amounted mostly
to tolerant and bemused querying of a “what’s he doing now,” sort; rather,
it is a debt beyond repaying for the love and fun of living and growing
together all these years outside the Trench that made my travels within
it seem worthwhile.


George Thomas

Athens, GA


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