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Did you know that there were laws against abuse of animals before there were laws against child abuse?

I started working in a daycare, and I had to take a course on child abuse since I am a mandated reporter. While I was taking the class I found some very interesting information about the history of child abuse laws.

Up to the late 19th century, children were often seen as the property of their parents.In 1874, the case of Mary Ellen Wilson helped focus society’s attention on abused children. Mary Ellen was being abused by her stepmother. A dying women living nearbyoverheard the screams of Mary Ellen and asked a visting missionary for help. The missionary searched for help but was denied by several agencies. In desperation, the missionary turned to help from Henry Bergh, founder and president of the New York Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Bergh argued in court that Mary Ellen was a member of the Animal Kingdom who could not protect herself from the cruelty of her stepmother. Continued...


Asked by JeremysMom at 10:40 PM on Dec. 27, 2009 in Politics & Current Events

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Answers (13)
  • Not surprising. The people who abuse animals get tougher sentences now than the people who abuse children. If someone abuses an animal then the animal never goes back to them, but if a person abuses their child they are given chance after chance. It is horribly sad that even in today's world the value of children is underestimated and they are not protected.

    Answer by mommy9 at 10:46 PM on Dec. 27, 2009

  • Cont. Because laws protected animals from cruel treatment, Mary Ellen was removed from her home. However, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that laws were written regarding child abuse. In 1961, the American Academy of Pediatrics held a conference on child abuse, and the first model child abuse law was drafted.

     Anyways, I thought this was very interesting to learn the history of how child abuse prevention and laws came about.


    Answer by JeremysMom at 10:41 PM on Dec. 27, 2009

  • Mommy9, I agree 100%.

    Answer by JeremysMom at 10:49 PM on Dec. 27, 2009

  • Very interesting! Thank you for sharing! That is so sad! Mommy9 you are right!

    Answer by yourspecialkid at 10:54 PM on Dec. 27, 2009

  • While I can't disagree; I think it's a catch 22. Yes I think someone who abuses or beats their child is obviously not fit to be a parent...but the child is 'of their body' legal terms it could be argued by someone I'm sure that it would be tantamount to saying well you're not taking good enough care of your health either by over eating or sun bathing in excess or smoking; we're going to take control and mandate what you can & can't do.

    Please don't get me wrong; I don't think people should be in any way allowed to repeatedly abuse their child; but from a strictly legal argument standpoint...the fact that the child is physically DNA part of the parents; it makes that severing an iffy thing...

    Answer by Anonymous at 11:02 PM on Dec. 27, 2009

  • My children who came to me by adoption are just as much mine. Anyone who would physically harm, sexually abuse, or neglect their child should have no right to them. That is absurd to think that the sharing of DNA should in any way make it any more or less a violation of that child's right to be safe and alive, than if an adoptive parent did the same thing. I love my kids way too much to abuse, neglect, or allow anyone else to do so and I didn't need DNA to arrive at that conclusion. I have children through biological and adoption routes. I shouldn't have more chances if I abused my birth child! He deserves to be safe, loved, fed, and cared for. If I don't provide that then I am not a good parent no matter what DNA is involved. Ownership of humans is ridiculous. DNA is great for crime scene investigation and for anything else LOVE outweighs it all.

    Answer by mommy9 at 11:12 PM on Dec. 27, 2009

  • Yeah, they check your house when you adopt a dog, to make sure it's a good fit. Then you pay major$$$$, and sign a contract saying you can't give that pet to anyone but them, and a bunch of other things like they have the right to contact you to check on the animal.(do get me wrong! I volunteer at the humane society!lol) But anyone can have sex and have a baby. Go figure.

    Answer by Steff107 at 11:23 PM on Dec. 27, 2009

  • lol I meant don't get me wrong!

    Answer by Steff107 at 11:39 PM on Dec. 27, 2009

  • There is a direct correlation between animal abusers and serial killers/psychopathic people. So, maybe there is more of a reason for it than what we all see...

    Answer by thundernlight at 12:07 AM on Dec. 28, 2009

  • Whats depressing is that we have to have laws against abusing a living thing weather it's human or animal, what happened to the human in people, how can anyone just hurt a child or an animal and not feel anything, I understand discipline but not abuse, it's a sad sad world.


    Answer by looovemybabies at 12:23 AM on Dec. 28, 2009