Term Paper: History of Child Protective Services

Pages: 10 (2686 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Children  ·  Buy This Paper

Children are the most vulnerable member of society and throughout history; they have been exploited both physically and mentally. For this reason, Child Protective Services (CPS) exists to curtail or prevent children from being abused. Child Protective services allow citizens to report the expected abuse of children and attempts to prevent children from being placed in adverse situations. For the purposes of this discussion, we will investigate the history of the Child Protective Services. We will explore how Child Protective Services was established and the development of the Child Protective Services System. The research will examine the history of the relationship between Child Protective Services and the public school system. In addition, we will explore the recent history of Child Protective Services as it relates to the foster care system.

History of Child Protective Services

According to Brittain and Hunt (2004), Child protection services came as a result of other movements. These other movements included suffrage and the animal welfare movement (Brittain and Hunt 2004). In addition, the demands of the labor market also placed emphasis on child labor laws. The authors explain that 1874 marked the year that New York created the Protective Services Act and the Cruelty to Children Act, which was the first legislation geared toward protecting children (Brittain and Hunt 2004).

The need for an organization specifically designed to help children was made evident in 1875 in New York City when a young girl named Mary Ellen Wilson was being abused by her guardians (Brittain and Hunt 2004). A citizen that was concerned with the child's welfare attempted to rescue the child from the situation with the help of other agencies but to no avail (Brittain and Hunt 2004). Ultimately, the concerned citizen was able to garner help from an attorney who also worked with the ASPCA (Brittain and Hunt 2004). Eventually the child was removed from the situation and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was created (Brittain and Hunt 2004).

Indeed, the treatment of this particular child brought child abuse and child safety to the forefront in America. (Brittain and Hunt 2004) report that From late in the nineteenth century through most of the first half of the twentieth century, private nonprofit societies for the prevention of cruelty to children initiated and took responsibility for child protection efforts. In 1877, humane societies from across the country -- including the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC) and the ASPCA -- convened in Cleveland, Ohio, and founded the national American Humane Association (AHA). In 1886, American Humane (AH) amended its constitution to include the protection of both children and animals, a mission that it supports to this day (Brittain and Hunt 2004)."

Government programs involving child protection were first addressed in 1909 when President Roosevelt held a conference on the care of dependent children. The first actual government program addressing child welfare came in 1912 with the creation of the Children's bureau (Brittain and Hunt 2004). The authors explain that during the 1920's the number of societies specifically geared towards the protection of abused children were over 250 (Brittain and Hunt 2004). These organizations sought to bring such abuse to the attention of the courts and place the children in better environments (Brittain and Hunt 2004). Eventually government agencies began to play a more significant role in protecting children in the 1930's with the social security act and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (Brittain and Hunt 2004).

Brittain and Hunt (2004) also report that pediatricians began to place greater emphasis upon issues related to child abuse. An even greater change took place in 1966 with a greater understanding of battered child syndrome (Brittain and Hunt 2004). The medical and psychological communities made known the severe damage that abuse can cause a growing child. This knowledge enabled the passage of the mandatory reporting laws involving persons who work with children to report abuse or neglect to the designated social agencies. According to Bridgeland and Duane (1993),

The "battered child" was first vividly described by Henry Kempe and his associates in the early 1960's (Daro, 1988, p. 2). They, and their followers, have spent many years raising the social conscience on the seriousness of the child-abuse problem. Since that time, governments have translated this concern for children into laws that required the finding and reporting of child abuse by all those responsible for overseeing children (Bridgeland and Duane, 1993; pg 113)."

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment act was signed into law in 1974 (Bridgeland and Duane 1993). Since the inception of the child protective services, many children have been rescued from abusive and neglected situations (Bridgeland and Duane 1993). Throughout the history of the agency, child protective services have sought to understand the circumstances that place children in adverse situations. One such circumstance involves domestic violence. An article found in the Journal of Social Work education asserts that many research studies have indicated that there is a correlation between domestic violence and child abuse or neglect (Spath 2003). Such studies assert that in 26-73% of cases of suspected or known abuse, there was also domestic violence (Spath 2003).

Understanding this is important in the protection of children because Victims of child maltreatment who also observe domestic violence may experience a "double whammy"...In addition to problems resulting from their own victimization, studies show that children who observe domestic violence experience developmental delays and have increased behavioral and emotional problems... Furthermore, physically abused children who have observed parental violence have a lower level of psychological adjustment and are significantly more distressed than children who witness violence but are not abused (Spath, 2003 page497)

In many cases the person to report the abuse in a neighbor or teacher. Bridgeland and Duane (1993), assert that school officials have played a significant role in reporting child abuse and neglect. According to the article found in the journal Education, those suspected of abusing a child are the target of abuse accusations (Bridgeland and Duane 1993). In most cases, the accused is a family member, which may create a hostile environment amongst the family, school, and social workers (Bridgeland and Duane 1993).

The fact that there is hostility towards those who report abuse and the government agencies that are sworn to protect children has existed since the inception of Child protective services. In their study of CPS agencies in Canada and Michigan, Bridgeland and Duane (1993) confirmed this historical fact. Their study asserts that the accusation of child abuse usually generates a hostile reaction towards the protection agency because they are perceives as baby snatchers (Bridgeland and Duane 1993).

The researchers also report that this hostility impedes upon the schools and the protection agencies' abilities to do their jobs (Bridgeland and Duane 1993).

Bridgeland and Duane (1993) explain that those that work at the school are often taken aback by the hostility that they may receive from the parents. Some of the school professionals mentioned in the study feared that parents would file lawsuits (Bridgeland and Duane 1993). The researchers explain that the uneasiness of the school professionals "can divert social-service people from child protection and into attempting some "psychic first-aid" to school staff. As one protective-service respondent suggested, more school districts could, through school in-service, provide legal information and coping strategies (Bridgeland and Duane 1993)."

On the other hand, the school professionals complained that protective service contributes to the problem by not acting in a timely fashion (Bridgeland and Duane 1993). The school professionals claim that to reduce the hostilities that are directed at the schools protective services should communicate with the accused on a consistent basis (Bridgeland and Duane 1993). In addition, the study found that,

Protective-service workers...are targeted with intense hostility from the accused ranging from vehement defiance through legal threats to physical intimidation. Any time they initiate a child-abuse investigation they may be confronted with an emotionally and/or physically stressful situation. As underpaid, overworked and underappreciated people, these workers have high burn-out and turn-over rates. Principals and teachers, who themselves face similar social expectations, could be more alert to the massive pressures on these line workers. They, therefore, might be emphathic and cooperative with these agents (Bridgeland and Duane, 1993; pg 113)."

Although it is often difficult for protective service workers and schools to work together, there have been instances where the two agencies have been able to work together effectively. Altshuler (2003) asserts that protective services and schools must work together for the sake of children involved. The article explains that children placed in foster care suffer greatly if educational functioning is low (Altshuler 2003). The article asserts that this low functioning can affect the child as an adult (Altshuler 2003). The author explains many of the students that are in foster care have a difficult time socially and academically when compared to other children (Altshuler 2003). The author also reports that children in foster care tend to have weaker cognitive skills (Altshuler 2003). The research also suggests that students… [END OF PREVIEW]

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