Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act

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Description of the problem that necessitated the policy

From 1990 until 1993 there was a steady increase in the number of child maltreatment cases and victims from ages 0-17. When looking at number of cases that include duplicate victims the numbers rose from 861,000 cases to 1,032,000 cases. The numbers both dropped and rose from 1993 until 1996. After 1996 there was a steep decrease in the number of child maltreatment cases, dropping to approximately 829,000 cases. From 1999 until 2006 the numbers constantly fluctuated up and down until the year 2006. In 2006 there was another steep decline the number of child maltreatment cases, the numbers had finally fallen below 800,000 cases. From 2006 and onward there has been consistency in the number regarding child maltreatment cases, on average the numbers have stayed close to 750,000. Although there has been a consistency in the number of cases, the number of child maltreatment cases has decreased significantly since the 1990s.

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Children who lived in homes on the lower end of the society

Historical Background of the Policy

There was no organized child protection in place until 1875, but there were laws put into place to protect the welfare of children. Magistrates possessed the ability to remove children who were not being trained up in the correct way in 1642 in Massachusetts. Also, Massachusetts passed a law in 1866 that granted judges the ability to involve themselves in family issues when a child was growing up in a home where he/she was not growing, being neglected, or not getting the proper education. In 1869 the Illinois Supreme Court determined that the law would punish parents who deliberately inflicted pain on their children, whether it was by imprisonment or physical abuse. Although government-enforced child protection was unheard of during these times, child neglect was not going unnoticed and there were people who tried to help.

The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was the first organization in the world to fully dedicate itself to the protection of children. The organization came to be as a result of the rescue of Mary Ellen Wilson. After the many failed attempts to get investigations from police officers and charities a missionary, named Etta Wheeler, got advice from an animal cruelty advocate named Henry Bergh. After consulting with Bergh and his lawyer, Elbridge Gerry, Etta Wheeler was able to rescue Mary from her abusive and neglectful circumstances. This incident brought attention to the fact that there was no organization responsible for the protection of children. Gerry and Bergh decided that there was need for an organization devoted to protecting children, so they created the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. After the news spread of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, a trend of nongovernmental agencies with the goal of child protection started across the country.

The Shephard-Towner Act supplied federal money for the health of mothers and babies from 1921 to 1929, but the federal government’s involvement in social well-being was triggered by the Great Depression. Almost all states placed the authority of child safety on the government in 1967.

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Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. (2019, Apr 08). Retrieved March 24, 2023 , from

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