A Short History of Child Protection in America


Child Protection History — ABA
John E.B. Myers*

I. Introduction

The history of child protection in America is divisible into three eras.  The first era extends from colonial times to 1875 and may be referred to as the era before organized child protection. The second era spans 1875 to 1962 and witnessed the creation and growth of organized child protection through nongovernmental child protection societies.  The year 1962 marks the beginning of the third or modern era: the era of government-sponsored child protective services.

II. Child Protection Prior to 1875

It was not until 1875 that the world’s first organization devoted entirely to child protection came into existence-the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.  Prior to 1875, many children went without protection, although there has never been a time when children were completely bereft of assistance. Criminal prosecution has long been used to punish egregious abuse…

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