DID YOU KNOW that the first anti-cruelty laws were enacted on behalf of animals, NOT CHILDREN.
It was little Mary Ellen Wilson, a nine-year-old girl who had been a prisoner in her tenement home, enduring unimaginable cruelty who finally put a human face on child abuse — and prompted a reformers’ crusade to prevent it and to protect its victims, an effort that continues to this day.
To read more about Mary Ellen and how her case led to the founding of New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in December of 1874, please click here.
Myth 1: Child abuse is rare. Abuse happens everywhere and impacts every demographic. It happens in “good” families and in “bad,” big families and small, in cities and rural communities, in homes, schools, and churches. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 1 out of 5 children will experience some form of abuse or maltreatment before their 18th birthday, and children with disabilities experience an even higher rate of abuse
Myth 5: It’s only abuse if it’s physical. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that 78% of child abuse reports were due to neglect. As defined by the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, neglect is the failure of a parent, guardian, or other caregiver to provide for a child’s basic needs. Children are resilient, but abuse and neglect have lasting and sometimes unidentified consequences. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, children who have had to be removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect suffer post-traumatic stress disorder at twice the rate of veterans of the first Gulf War.
Every state has enacted laws detailing who must report child abuse, and 48 states have laws that list mandatory reporters of child abuse, by profession. Some of those professions include: social workers, teachers, physicians, mental health professionals, and law enforcement agents. ADDITIONALLY, *18 STATES AND PUERTO RICO MANDATE THAT ANY ADULT WHO SUSPECTS CHILD ABUSE MUST REPORT IT TO THE PROPER AUTHORITIES REGARDLESS OF PROFESSION. NEW JERSEY AND WYOMING REQUIRE ALL PERSONS TO REPORT WITHOUT SPECIFYING ANY PROFESSIONS. IN ALL OTHER STATES, TERRITORIES, AND DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ANY PERSON IS PERMITTED TO REPORT. THESE VOLUNTARY REPORTERS OF ABUSE ARE OFTEN REFERRED TO AS "PERMISSIVE REPORTERS".
* Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.