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Child Maltreatment

Beven, J.P. (2008) Child Maltreatment. In: Monahan, G. and Young, L., (eds.) Children and the law in Australia. LexisNexis Butterworths, Chatswood, N.S.W., pp. 105-120.


The recognition of child maltreatment arguably began with the unusual case of Mary Ellen in 1874. When a New York parishioner went to visit a dying woman, the woman told about a child's screams for help that she could hear from another apartment. After some persuasion, the parishioner agreed to find help for the child. The police, local pastor, charitable agencies and the District Attorney all turned the parishioner away since the view at the time was that no one had the right to interfere in the private sphere of the family. It was not until the parishioner approached the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), that help was forthcoming. The parishioner managed to convince the ASPCA that children should be afforded the same protections as animals. Subsequently, the ASPCA conducted an investigation of the treatment of Mary Ellen, uncovering evidence of both physical and emotional abuse as well as neglect. Mary Ellen was eventually removed from her foster parents and placed in the care of the helpful parishioner.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Law
Publisher: LexisNexis Butterworths
Copyright: LexisNexis Butterworths
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