Dave Pelzer Profile

  • Dave Pelzer is the author of the famed memoir and best-selling book, A Child Called “It”.

  • Pelzer is a nationally known child abuse prevention advocate who has been working 30 years to raise awareness and help victims take positive control of their lives.

  • Pelzer empowers audiences by sharing his experience as a survivor of childhood abuse, as well as the tools he used to deal with trauma, break the abuse cycle, and build a fulfilling life of service.
  • Child abuse prevention advocate and inspirational speaker, Dave Pelzer is best known for his best-selling book, A Child Called “It”. The memoir which offered a raw account of Pelzer’s abusive childhood was on the NewYork Times bestseller list for over 6 years and has become a staple read for anyone who works in education, psychology, or social welfare.

    Pelzer’s case of abuse was considered “one of the most gruesome” in California history at the time that it was brought to light. Nonetheless, Pelzer’s story serves as an inspiration because he was able to break the cycle of abuse and go on to help others. After spending his teen years in a series of foster homes, he served in the Air Force, conducting mid-air refuels of jets used in Operations Just Cause, Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

    Pelzer wrote several follow-up and self-help books. He is the first author to have four # 1 International Best Sellers and to have four books on the New York Times Best Sellers List at the same time. He is a dedicated volunteer and has been a child abuse prevention advocate for over 30 years, using his sense of humor and acts of kindness to bring joy and hope into the lives of others.

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      #1 New York Times Best Seller List and #1 International Best Selling Author, Recipient of The National Jefferson Award

      In a word, Dave Pelzer embodies Esprit: Spirit, Humor & Wit. As a child his resilience enabled him to overcome extreme life-threatening obstacles. As an adult, for over 25 years, Dave’s inspirational work has encouraged countless organizations and millions of individuals to recommit their efforts and remain steadfast to their personal convictions.

      As an adult, Dave’s inspirational work has encouraged countless individuals to recommit their efforts and remain steadfast to their personal convictions.

      Dave has experienced a truly extraordinary life. He nearly died several times by the hands of his mentally disturbed alcoholic mother. Years later it was determined that Dave’s case was identified as one of the most gruesome and extreme cases of child abuse in California ’s then history.

      At age 12 Dave was finally rescued and placed in a series of foster homes until he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at age 18. Even with all that was against him, Dave was determined to better himself – no matter what the odds.

      As a member of the Armed Forces, Dave was hand-picked to midair refuel the highly secretive SR-71 Blackbird and the F-117 Stealth Fighter, which played a major role in Operations Just Cause, Desert Shield and Desert Storm. While serving on active duty and maintaining a rigorous flight schedule, Dave made time to give of himself. In 1990, Dave was the recipient of the JC Penney Golden Rule Award, making him the California Volunteer of the Year.

      Some of Dave’s distinctive accomplishments have been recognized through a number of prestigious awards, as well as personal commendations from Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush. In 1993, Dave was honored as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans. He joins a distinguished group including: John F. Kennedy, Anne Bancroft and Christopher Reeves. In 1994, Dave was the only American to be honored as The Outstanding Young Person of the World! In 1996, he carried the coveted Centennial flame for the Olympic Games. Dave was paid tribute as the recipient of the 2005 National Jefferson Award. Other alumni of this award include Colin Powell, Sandra Day O’Connor and Bob Hope.

      Dave is the author of seven inspirational books. Dave’s latest book, Moving Forward deals with helping people take the lead in their lives. Dave’s first book, A Child Called “It”, was on the New York Times Best Sellers List for over 6 years and Dave’s books have been on the same Best Sellers List approaching 13 years combined. As an author Dave is the first to have four # 1 International Best Sellers and to have four books simultaneously on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

      Dave is a living testament of a self-made man, who as an optimist strongly exudes resilience, service to mankind, personal responsibility and faith in humanity. Dave’s unique and intriguing outlook on life, coupled with his “Robin Williams” like wit and sense of humor entertain and encourage all of us to truly commit to overcome any challenge, while living life to its fullest.

      For over two decades, Dave has dedicated his life helping others . . . to help themselves. While many make excuses and seem pessimistic, Dave carries the banner in a nation where opportunities are endless in what he calls “The Greatness of America.” And through his work, you will too.

    Dave Pelzer Speaking Videos

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    Dave Pelzer's Speech Descriptions

    Dave Pelzer’s programs offer hope and a realistic guide to overcoming hardship. Pelzer uses his own background as a survivor of child abuse as a springboard for dialogue, challenging his audiences to take positive control of their lives. He is uniquely qualified to speak to abuse victims and anyone who works with youth or wants to understand how to identify/prevent abuse cases, the process of recovery, and breaking the cycle of abuse.

      Your Resolve

      All of us, in one way or another have been affected by unfortunate or overwhelming situations. Yet for many, for whatever the reason, their negative past seems to dominate their lives, to the point that they, through their choices or inactions, become psychologically crippled and live out unhappy, unfilled lives.

      Having survived an extreme, life-threatening childhood, and yet later to become the recipient of The National Jefferson Award and honored as The Outstanding Young Persons of the World, Dave knows first-hand about the art of resilience while being of service to fellow man. For more than twenty years Dave has traveled the globe, challenging and inspiring others to take positive control of their lives, while praising the people who are dedicated to helping those in dire need – educators, social workers and the foster care system, whom Dave dubs, "The Real Heroes".

      Your Resolve is based on Dave's New York Times Best Selling book Help Yourself, as well as, his two other self-help books, Help Yourself for Teens and Moving Forward. Through out the presentation, Dave weaves his life's story giving pertinent examples on, not only, how he was able to prevail but stresses proven, real-life, common sense advice for the audience to apply immediately. Also, in an effort to help ease the audience, Dave laces the program with relevant humor. In addition, Dave carefully advises the audience and those in their perspective fields, on the importance of taking care of themselves, so they in turn, can continue to be a service to others.

      In today's uncertain, stress filled world, Your Resolve can make a difference for all of us by helping you to recapture your sense of “Mission” and lead others by determined, quiet leadership.

      (Presentation Length: 1 hour - 1hour 30 minutes)

      The Real Heroes

      Purpose: This rare heart-felt program is given by a man whose life was saved by a system that many ridicule as being useless and incompetent. This highly emotional presentation pays tribute to those who have dedicated their lives to making a difference in the life of a child, while at the same time educating the general public of the challenges faced by those in their chosen field.

      Dave carefully weaves the story of how his life was saved by teachers, a school nurse, the police department, social servies and the foster care system. This is the perfect keynote for those within the system who are in need of a positive shot in the arm from a man who, too, has dedicated his life to helping others.

      Throughout the presentation, Dave laces a significant amount of relevant humor to help put the audience at ease, but also stresses the vital importance of advising those at-risk on becoming resilient and being accountable.

      In addition, Dave advises those working in their perspective fields not to become overwhelmed. It is important for them to care for themselves, so they in turn can continue to be a savior and champion of children of our countries: The Real Heroes.


      • Pay homage to the countless individuals who are on the front lines in their battle to save the children.
      • To instill a sense of pride and positive expectations of those who have suffered, rather than live out a life of despair and negativity.

      (Presentation Length: 1 hour - 1hour 30 minutes)

      Help Yourself for Teens

      For well over ten years and thousands of presentations to various middle schools, high schools and juvenile detention facilities throughout the nation, Dave Pelzer has emphasized a message of accountability and resilience to young adults no matter their past or hardships.

      Having endured one of the worst cases of child abuse in California’s then history and placed in foster care before becoming a counselor at juvenile hall years later, Dave knows all too well the troubles and temptations facing teens today.

      Help Yourself for Teens is a presentation based on a self -titled book which places a strong focus on a pyramid strategy of: developing the habit of addressing one’s problems, identifying the critical importance of decisions made now and where they can lead to in the future and for young adults to aspire on bettering themselves.

      Throughout the presentation Dave incorporates a “Robin Williams” like wit and fast paced sense of humor. While Dave’s program at times is entertaining, his premise is to educate and inspire young adults to become more productive, proactive, and responsible for their own lives.

      Suggested Program Length (45-90 minutes)

      Writers Studio Session

      Overview: As the author of the #1 world-wide best selling book, A Child Called “It”, that was on the New York Times Best Sellers List for well over 6 years, and one of a few authors to have 4 books simultaneously on the New York Times Best Sellers List, Dave knows something about the expansive field of publishing.

      For well over 15 years, Dave has given countless workshops not only on his writing process, but has also revealed the ups and downs of his distinctive publishing career.

      With his own brand of unrivaled humor and his at times serious “see straight though to the end” business like attitude, Dave enthralls writers of all levels.

      Objective: Educate writers on realistic expectations and the pitfalls of the publishing world, as well as, how to best navigate and enhance their own projects when it comes to dealing with agents, working with publishers, editors, and the marketing of their works.

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    Books by Dave Pelzer:
      A Child Called “It”: One Child′s Courage to Survive
      by Dave Pelzer
      This book chronicles the unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history. It is the story of Dave Pelzer, who was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who played tortuous, unpredictable games–games that left him nearly dead. He had to learn how to play his mother′s games in order to survive because she no longer considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy, but an “it.” Dave′s bed was an old army cot in the basement, and his clothes were torn and raunchy. When his mother allowed him the luxury of food, it was nothing more than spoiled scraps that even the dogs refused to eat. The outside world knew nothing of his living nightmare. He had nothing or no one to turn to, but his dreams kept him alive–dreams of someone taking care of him, loving him and calling him their son.

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      A Man Named Dave: A Story of Triumph and Forgiveness
      by Dave Pelzer
      The inspiring conclusion to A Child Called “It” and The Lost Boy.

      “All those years you tried your best to break me, and I′m still here. One day you′ll see, I′m going to make something of myself.”–Dave Pelzer, from A Man Named Dave.

      These words were Dave Pelzer′s declaration of independence to his mother, and they represented the ultimate act of self-reliance. Dave′s father never intervened as his mother abused him with shocking brutality, denying him food and clothing, torturing him in any way she could imagine. This was the woman who told her son she could kill him any time she wanted to-and nearly did. The more than two million readers of Pelzer′s previous international bestsellers, A Child Called “It” and The Lost Boy, know that he lived to tell his courageous story. A Man Named Dave is the gripping conclusion to his inspirational trilogy. With stunning generosity of spirit, Dave Pelzer invites readers on his journey to discover how he turned shame into pride and rejection into acceptance.

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      The Privilege of Youth: A Teenager′s Story of Longing for Acceptance and Friendship
      by Dave Pelzer
      In The Privilege of Youth, he shares the missing chapter of his life: as a boy on the threshold of adulthood. With sensitivity and insight, he recounts the relentless taunting he endured from bullies; but he also describes the thrill of making his first real friends—some of whom he still shares close relationships with today. He writes about the simple pleasures of exploring his neighborhood, while trying to forget the hell waiting for him at home.

      From high school to a world beyond the four walls that were his prison for so many years, The Privilege of Youth bravely and compassionately charts this crucial turning point in Dave Pelzer’s life and will inspire a whole new generation of readers.

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      Help Yourself: Celebrating the Rewards of Resilience and Gratitude
      by Dave Pelzer
      In Help Yourself, Dave Pelzer explains how to move beyond a painful history, harmful negative thoughts, and innumerable setbacks by urging readers to take control and be accountable for their lives. Filled with his own history, as well as the personal struggles of others who have learned how to turn adversity into triumph, Help Yourself is a rousing call to readers who want real answers to real problems..

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