Protecting America's Children: Past, Present, and Future

Protecting America's Children: Past, Present, and Future

by John E. B. Myers
     
 

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Child abuse and neglect are intractable problems exacting a terrible toll on children and rending the very fabric of our society. What can be done to reduce the suffering? If there were simple solutions to abuse and neglect they would have been discovered long ago. There are no easy answers, but in this vivid history of child protection in America, John E.B. Myers

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Overview

Child abuse and neglect are intractable problems exacting a terrible toll on children and rending the very fabric of our society. What can be done to reduce the suffering? If there were simple solutions to abuse and neglect they would have been discovered long ago. There are no easy answers, but in this vivid history of child protection in America, John E.B. Myers introduces realistic policies that will reduce maltreatment and strengthen the system that protects our children.

Before it is possible to design viable improvements in today's system, it is necessary to understand how it evolved. The sweeping, beautifully written account of child protection in America traces its growth from colonial days to the present—from the rise and gradual disappearance of orphanages, the growth of foster care, the birth of organized child protection in 1874, and the rise of private societies to prevent cruelty, to the twentieth-century transition to government-operated child protection.

Myers goes on to describe the principal causes of child maltreatment, including intergenerational transmission of violence, poverty, substance abuse, cultural violence, excessive corporal punishment, sexual deviance, evolution, mental illness, and domestic violence. Once the causes of maltreatment are clear, it is possible to create solutions. Some of the proposals outlined have been in play for more than a century, while others are new. Policies to combat poverty, expand nurse home visiting programs, increase access to day care, strengthen a sense of community, outlaw corporal punishment, rethink our attitude toward alcohol, and lower the toxicity in popular culture are rooted in a deep understanding of the cycle of violence and challenge traditional ways of thinking.

Since it will never be possible to prevent all maltreatment, it is critical to strengthen the existing child protection system. Attainable reforms such as dealing with the lingering effects of racism in the child welfare, reworking funding mechanisms, refocusing leadership, creating a less adversarial system, strengthening foster care, and reinventing the juvenile court point to flaws in our system but demonstrate that progress is possible.

This provocative book will challenge all those concerned with children's welfare to move toward real solutions that will make life better for America's most vulnerable children.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This compelling work traces child protection efforts from early colonial America to the present...Social workers and social work educators will find this work valuable, especially in its explanation of various organizations and larger-than-life reformers...all pivotal to this subject's history."—Doody's

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Elizabeth Connor, MLS, DM/AHIP(The Citadel)
Description: This compelling work traces child protection efforts from early colonial America to the present. The disturbing history of abuse, neglect, maltreatment, and exploitation of American children is deftly explained in terms of causes, obstacles to prevention, and key reforms intended to prevent abuse.
Purpose: The author is a professor of law and scholar at the University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law. The work's intended purposes are to "[offer] recommendations to reduce the amount of abuse and neglect," and "[suggest] reforms to the child protection system."
Audience: Social workers and social work educators will find this work valuable, especially in its explanation of various organizations (New York Children's Aid Society, New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Child Welfare League of America), legislation (Social Security Act of 1935, Aid to Dependent Children, Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act, 1980), and larger-than-life reformers (Jane Addams, Charles Loring Brace, Charles Birtwell), all pivotal to this subject's history. Historians of medicine may expect a greater emphasis on the historical and medical underpinnings of the subject, although radiologist John Caffey's efforts are mentioned.
Features: The book is divided into two parts. Part I details past efforts to protect American children. Part II delves into present-day efforts to protect children and prevent abuse. This work includes bibliographic notes, an index, and excellent and evocative black-and-white illustrations.
Assessment: Interestingly, the author puts a rather positive spin on the orphan trains that transported thousands of children to uncertain futures in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This author has written another book on the subject, A History of Child Protection in America (Xlibris, 2004), which covers similar ground.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195169355
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
06/29/2006
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

John E. B. Myers is one of the nation's leading authorities on legal aspects of child abuse, domestic violence, and elder abuse.

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