Child abuse was “discovered” in the United States about 110 years ago. Of course, cruel treatment of children had existed previously and it had even been dealt with by the application of community sanctions against parents. Not until the 1870’s, however, was the crime defined as a widespread social problem and responded to by the creation of private groups such as the Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (SPCCs). So rapid was the spread of concern that by 1880 there were already thirty-three such societies in the United States and fifteen in other countries.
The following remarks come from a study of the practice of one such agency, the Massachusetts SPCC, established in 1878, and two other Boston child welfare agencies that also handled “family violence” cases, the Boston Children’s Service Association and the Judge Baker Guidance Center. For our research we took a random sample of cases from 1880 to 1960. In this discussion, however, I will be focusing particularly on the experience of the Massachusetts SPCC (MSPCC) and its clients in the first fifty years of its existence, up to about 1930. The reader should be aware in evaluating these remarks that the MSPCC during this period was an upper-class, Protestant charity while its clientele were predominantly poor, immigrant Catholics.
I want to focus on two themes. The first is the question of state or professional intervention into the family and specifically, some of the ways in which this “intervention” has been conceptualized. The second theme is the way in which gender, not only within the family but also within the entire social division of labor, affects the problem of child abuse and how assumptions about gender have inhered in social work policies towards child abuse.
An evidentiary privilege to protect workers' confidential communications from disclosure in federal and state court proceedings would support unions.
Labor organizing privilege is not a magic bullet that will secure the rights of workers to organize and collectively bargain. Employers will continue to resist the efforts of their workers to organize.
DOJ guidance for mentally impaired detainees in immigration removal proceedings should be amended to provide counsel at earlier signs of incompetence.
Voting rights advocates should explore section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act as a vehicle to combat voter intimidation.