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  Pages related to Child Abuse Laws Child Abuse Information
Child Abuse Causes
Child Abuse History
Child Abuse Organizations/References
Abusar das Criancas, Portuguese

Child Abuse and Neglect, by Monica L. McCoy, Stefanie M. Keen

"An outstanding resource for university-level courses and can be prescribed with confidence as a required text." –-Professor Ian M. Evans, Massey University, New Zealand, in PsycCRITIQUES

Child Abuse: Law and Policy Across Boundaries, by Laura Hoyano, Caroline Keenan

This book looks across legal and geographical boundaries to consider the law and policy on child abuse. It examines the whole process of child protection, from complaint investigation to prosecution, and analyzes the legal disciplines of criminal, family, tort and evidence law as they bear on child abuse cases. Material from UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Child Abuse and Family Law: Understanding the Issues facing human service and legal professionals, by Thea Brown, Renata Alexander

Mandated Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect: A Practical Guide for Social Workers, by Dr. Kenneth Lau LCSW, Ms. Kathryn Krase JD LCSW, Mr. Richard H. Morse LMSW

"[A] 'must have' resource for practicing professionals and an invaluable teaching tool for social work students .This is precisely the book that mandated reporters seek to assist in the reporting process and understanding their legal obligations." --Keva M. Miller, PhD, LCSW - School of Social Work, Portland State University

Sharing Nature with Children, 20th Anniversary Edition, by Joseph Bharat Cornell

Recommended by American Camping Association, National Audubon Society and many others.

Child Maltreatment: Theory and Research on the Causes and Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect, by Dante Cicchetti, Vicki Carlson

An important reference work that bridges the gap between the study of child maltreatment and child development. It is a necessary addition to the professional library of students of both topics." --Richard J. Gelles, American Journal of Sociology

Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse, by Gregory L. Ph.D.

How those who have been abused by a spouse, parent, employer, or minister can overcome the past and rebuild their self-image.

Child Abuse and Culture: Working with Diverse Families, by Lisa Aronson Fontes PhD

A comprehensive presentation of complex cultural issues with abundant examples drawn from [the author's] experience as a psychologist, educator, and researcher.--Prevention Researcher

Page updated: March 15, 2015

History of Child Abuse Laws

Legal Dictionaries
Photo: Leonid Dzhepko

From the NACC, the National Association of Counsel for Children in Denver Colorado, this detailed list of child abuse law development is detailed. https://www.naccchildlaw.org/?page=ChildMaltreatment. (edited and highlights added, republished with written permission from NACC)

In 1839, the Pennsylvania court issued the Ex parte Crouse19 decision judicially affirming the role of the government to "care for" society's children.

In 1860, French physician Ambrose Tardieu conducted a study of 32 children whom he believed died of child abuse. Tardieu's findings described medical, psychiatric, social and demographic features of the condition of child abuse as a syndrome.

In 1874, 10 year old Mary Ellen was removed from her home for cruelty and provided protection by the New York Court system. The case is connected to the founding of the New York Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which gave rise to the founding of similar societies. By 1900, 161 cruelty societies existed in the United States.

The first juvenile court was founded in Cook County, IL in 1899 with exclusive jurisdiction of minors.

In 1912, as a result of President Roosevelt's 1909 White House Conference on Children, Congress created the United States Children's Bureau.

In 1921, Congress passes the Shappard-Towner Act, which established Children's Bureaus at the state level and promoted maternal-infant health.

In 1944, the Supreme Court of the United States confirmed the state's authority to intervene in family relationships to protect children in Prince v. Massachusetts.

In 1946, Aid to Dependent Children was added to the Social Security Act.

In 1946, Dr. Caffey, a pediatric radiologist in Pittsburgh, published the results of his research showing that subdural hematomas and fractures of the long bones in infants were inconsistent with accidental trauma.

In 1960, New York was the first state to adopt the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children. ICPS is a uniform law now adopted by all 50 states, Washington D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It established orderly procedures for the interstate placement of children and fixed responsibility for those involved in placing children.

In 1962, following a medical symposium the previous year, several physicians headed by Denver physician C. Henry Kempe, published the landmark article The Battered Child Syndrome in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Through the article, Kempe and his colleagues exposed the reality that significant numbers of parents and caretakers batter their children, even to death. The Battered Child Syndrome describes a pattern of child abuse resulting in certain clinical conditions and establishes a medical and psychiatric model of the cause of child abuse. The article marked the development of child abuse as a distinct academic subject. The work is generally regarded as one of the most significant events leading to professional and public awareness of the existence and magnitude of child abuse and neglect in the United States and throughout the world.

In 1962, in response to The Battered Child, the Children's Bureau held a symposium on child abuse, which produced a recommendation for a model child abuse reporting law.

In 1966, the United States Supreme Court decided Kent v. US. The Court held that a "waiver" or "transfer" hearing was a critically important proceeding and that a juvenile has a statutory right to avail himself of the juvenile court's exclusive jurisdiction. In 1967, the Supreme Court of the United States issued the In re Gault decision guaranteeing constitutional protection to children accused of crimes.

By 1967, 44 states had adopted mandatory reporting laws. The remaining six states adopted voluntary reporting laws. All states now have mandatory reporting laws. Generally, the laws require physicians to report reasonable suspicion of child abuse. Reporting laws, now expanded to include other professionals and voluntary reporting by the public, together with immunity for good faith reporting, are recognized as one of the most significant measures ever taken to protect abused and neglected children. Reporting is recognized as the primary reason for the dramatic increases seen in cases of child abuse and neglect.

In 1971, the California Court of Appeals recognized the Battered Child Syndrome as a medical diagnosis and a legal syndrome in People v. Jackson.23

In 1974, Congress passed landmark legislation in the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA; Public Law 93-273; 42 U.S.C. 5101). The act provides states with funding for the investigation and prevention of child maltreatment, conditioned on states' adoption of mandatory reporting law. The act also conditions funding on reporter immunity, confidentiality, and appointment of guardians ad item for children.

The act also created the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) to serve as an information clearinghouse. In 1978, The Adoption Reform Act was added to CAPTA. In 1984, CAPTA was amended to include medically disabled infants, the reporting of medical neglect and maltreatment in out-of-home care, and the expansion of sexual abuse to include sexual exploitation.

In 1974 the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) was created to serve as an information clearinghouse.

In 1974, Congress adopted the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act (42 U.S.C. 5601) and Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (Public Law 93-568). The Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act required Congress to provide the necessary resource, leadership, and coordination to develop and support juvenile delinquency prevention programs. FERPA required state educational agencies to comply with certain privacy and access rights regarding education records.

The National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) was founded in 1977.

The ABA Center on Children and the Law was founded in 1978.

In 1978, the NACC produced the first issue of its quarterly journal The Guardian. In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA; Public Law 96-608; 25 U.S.C. 1901 et seq.). After a series of hearings, Congress concluded that Indian children were removed from their families inappropriately. ICWA provided that federally recognized Indian Tribes and Native Alaskan Villages had jurisdiction over child welfare cases, and created new litigation standards for state court cases involving Indian children.

In 1980, Congress passed the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act (Public Law 96-272; 42 U.S.C. 420) designed to remedy problems in the foster care system. The act made federal funding for foster care dependent on certain reforms. In 1983, the act was amended to include "reasonable efforts." The reasonable efforts amendment provided for special procedures before removing a child and reunification strategies after removal. Important provisions for case review were also included. The act and its amendment essentially provided fiscal incentives to encourage states to prevent unnecessary foster care placements and to provide children in placement with permanent homes as quickly as possible. The law also gave courts a new oversight role.

In 1981, Title XX of the Social Security Act was amended to include the Social Services Block Grant to provide child protective services funding to states. This became the major source of state social service funding.

In 1986, Congress passed the Child Abuse Victims' Rights Act, which gave child victims of sexual exploitation a civil damage claim.

In 1989 the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Unites States and Somalia have not ratified the Convention. In 2002, the NACC adopted the Convention and declared its support for ratification.

In 1991, Congress passed the Victims of Child Abuse Act, to improve the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases.

In 1993, The NY Supreme Court Appellate Division, In re Jamie TT24 , found a constitutional basis for the representation of children in dependency cases.

In 1993, as part of the Omnibus Budget and Reconciliation Act, Congress provided funding for state courts to assess the impact of the Adoption Act on foster care proceedings, to study the handling of child protection cases, and to develop a plan for improvement.

Congress passed the Multiethnic Placement Act in 1994 (MEPA; Public Law 103-382, 104-382). MEPA provided that adoption or foster care placements may not be denied or delayed based on race, color, or national origin of the individual, or the children, involved. The overriding goals of MEPA were to reduce the length of time children spend in out-of-home placement care and to prevent discrimination in placement decisions.

In 1996, Congress replaced AFDC with Temporary Assistance to Need Families (TANF). The goals of TANF were to provide assistance to low-income families with children so they could be cared for in their own home, promote job preparedness, reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families. Although TANF made few changes to federal child protection programs directly, it affected child welfare services by changing programs upon which it formerly relied.

In 1997, Congress Passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA; Public Law 105-89). ASFA represented the most significant change in federal child welfare law since the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. The act included provisions for legal representation, state funding of child welfare and adoption, and state performance requirements. In general, ASFA was intended to promote primacy of child safety and timely decisions while clarifying "reasonable efforts" and continuing family preservation. ASFA also included continuation funding for court improvement.25

In 1997, Congress amended the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; Public Law 105-17). IDEA provided funding to states to ensure that all children, regardless of disability, have the right to free, appropriate public education.

Congress passed the Chafee Foster Care Independence Act in 1999 (Public Law 93-568). The Act provided funding and services for youth who have "aged out" of the child welfare system.

In 2000, Congress passed the Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Act (CAPEA; Public Law 106-177). CAPEA focused on improving the criminal justice system's ability to provide timely, accurate criminal-record information to agencies engaged in child protection, and enhancing prevention and law enforcement activities.

In 2001, Congress reauthorized the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act (McKinney-Vento; Public Law 100-77) as part of the No Child Left Behind Act. McKinney-Vento provided emergency assistance for homeless children and youth. The Act required that such youth be given a free and appropriate public education, and required schools to remove barriers to their enrollment, attendance, and success in school.

In 2001, the NACC was awarded a grant from the U.S. Dept. of HHS Children's Bureau to create a national program to certify lawyers as specialists in child welfare law.

In 2004, the ABA recognized child welfare law as a legal specialty and designated the NACC as the certifying agency. All of these legal provisions give a good legal basis for cases of child abuse in the United States. As a result, child abuse is not as widespread in the United States as in some other countries. Brazil as an example, which one might say is a borderline third world country, has a child abuse rate of about 25%.

In the United States the stated rate is perhaps 1.3%, although that figure might be significantly higher, perhaps 5%. The rate of sexual abuse for children in India, in a recent study, is said to be 50%. Abuse by school teachers in the form of excessive physical punishment is also said to be common, additionally, bringing the figure up to close to 67%.

The laws and enforcement of these laws, as well as the resources allocated to implement and enforce these laws, is a help in the protection of children, and in deterring abusers. Additionally, many children are subject to unreported psychological torment and neglect by parents, or other members of the family. Not all of the incidents of child abuse go reported.

In NJ, the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) is the State's child safety and permanency service. It investigates allegations of child abuse or neglect, and provides services to ensure a child's safety, permanency and well-being. Sometimes, through services to the family, a child can stay safely at home, others times a resource family may be necessary to ensure the child's safety. A resource family could be a foster home, kinship, guardianship or adoptive families.

Pages Related to Child Abuse and Neglect Information

Child Abuse - Main page

Child Abuse Causes

Child Abuse History - The story of Mary Ellen, 1873

Child Abuse Organizations / References - Child Abuse

How Exposure to Pornography Effects Children

More excellent books and resources on Child Abuse and related topics

Treating Self-Destructive Behaviors in Trauma Survivors: A Clinician's Guide, by Lisa Ferentz

Like most Routledge psychology books, this is well-developed and excellent, with valuable information for the reader. Wounds of child abuse can heal and require special attention and insight. Compassionate persons, including professionals, can help in that process.

The Healing Years-healing From Child Sexual Abuse on DVD

The Healing Years is a bold documentary about women survivors of child sexual abuse healing, speaking out and ending the cycle for generations ahead.

Poisonous Parenting - Toxic Relationships Between Parents and Their Adult Children, by Shea M. Dunham, Shannon B. Dermer, Jon Carlson

Psychology Book Reviews: Poisonous Parenting - Toxic Relationships Between Parents and Their Adult Children