Background

It may seem hard to imagine a time when the problems of abused, neglected, and molested children were not viewed as important and worthy of professional attention. Yet our current concern for the welfare of children is a relatively recent phenomenon.

An article published in 1962 by pediatrician Dr. Henry Kempe and his associates marked the beginning of modern interest in child maltreatment. Their paper argued that many of the “accidental” children’s injuries being seen by pediatricians were in fact the result of intentional abuse. They labeled the phenomenon they observed the Battered Child Syndrome.

The concept of battered child syndrome led to discussions about how abused children might be brought to the attention of child welfare authorities so that the abuse could be stopped. As a result of their work, reporting laws pertaining to physical abuse were developed, such as the first child abuse reporting law in California, enacted in 1963, which mandated that physicians report concerns of physical abuse.

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