The origins and contexts of contemporary child welfare
To understand the forces that drive child welfare today, it is necessary to look at the forces that have shaped it in the past. You may groan at the thought of beginning your study of child welfare with a history lesson. You may secretly believe that it doesn’t matter what the Victorians did: the world has changed so much that the issues of the nineteenth century are totally irrelevant to us today. In some fields, you may be right, but in the field of child welfare the same issues reoccur generation after generation because they are not matters of fact to be discovered and resolved but matters of judgement, perspective and belief. What rights should a child have, for example? (answer: none, if you regard a child as property.) What rights should a parent have? What rights should society have? Whose rights take precedence in the case of conflict? Who decides whose rights take precedence? Through what process? Based on what criteria?
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