In nineteenth century, American slaves were freed and animals were protected against cruelty while children were still considered their parents' chattel, to do with as they wished. Not until 1874 was the first court case of child abuse argued. The American Society brought the case, on behalf of a young girl named Mary Ellen for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The ASPCA successfully challenged the court to recognize that Mary Ellen was covered under laws barring inhuman treatment of animals. Society thus accepted a moral responsibility to protect children, even from their parents.
Eventually, many states responded to this moral responsibility by making child abuse illegal. Reporting child abuse, however, was still not required. Consequently, most child abuse remained unacknowledged. Finally in 1974 Congress enacted the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. "This act provided federal funds to fight child abuse for states that passed laws requiring certain professionals, such as teachers and health care personnel, to report suspected abuse"(Koster & Swisher 12).
This financial incentive motivated every state to pass such a law. Now, many Americans had both a moral and a legal responsibility to report abuse.
Child Abuse is a deviant act according to the normative perspective of deviance. This behavior violates the norms and rules of society. Many people feel that it is wrong to abuse a child. Whether it is physical or emotional a child is just supposed to be cared for. The cruel realization that parents and caretakers can kill their own children has been difficult for our nation to face. Indeed, many who make policies, direct programs, and deliver services to children and families have found it difficult to accept. Yet, this is reality.
Child Abuse has been a fact of life throughout history; however, recognition of abuse as a...