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David James (Dave) Pelzer (born December 29, 1960 in Daly City, California) is an American author, best known for his 1995 memoir of childhood abuse, A Child Called "It". Pelzer is the son of a San Francisco fireman, Stephen Joseph Pelzer (1923–1980), who was of Austrian descent, and Catherine Roerva Christen Pelzer (1929–1992).
Pelzer was born in San Francisco, California, and was the second of five boys. Pelzer wrote in his book that as a child he was continually abused, mistreated, and beaten by his mother, who thought of it as a game. The book documents how his mother starved him, forced him to drink ammonia, stabbed him in the stomach, burned his arm on a gas stove and forced him to eat his own vomit. His teachers stepped in on March 5, 1973 and 12-year-old Pelzer was placed in foster care. In 1979, he joined the Air Force and later became an author. Catherine Pelzer's fourth child, Richard B. Pelzer, has also written about having been abused.
Pelzer has written a number of books:
- A Child Called It (1995) ISBN 1-55874-366-9
- The Lost Boy (1997) ISBN 1-55874-515-7
- A Man Named Dave (1999) ISBN 0-452-28190-3
- My Story (2002) ISBN 0-7528-5371-6, Compilation of A Child Called It, The Lost Boy, and A Man Named Dave
- The Privilege of Youth (2004) ISBN 0-525-94769-8
Awards and recognition
- JC Penney Golden Rule Award (1990)
A rather heated argument has been alleged between Richard Pelzer and his brother Dave Pelzer. Questions about Richard’s brother’s ethos have been raised concerning Dave’s heavily one sided depiction of his childhood, including accusations by his brother Stephen, which Dave responded to by claiming Stephen was "semiretarded". Numerous articles have been associated with Richard’s brother including The Mail on Sunday ("Is He Making 'It' All Up?"), the New York Times Magazine ("Dysfunction for Dollars", by Pat Jordan, July 28, 2002), and the online magazine Slate ("Dave Pelzer - The Child Abuse Entrepreneur")