8 Harv. J. L. & Pub. Pol'y 539 (1985)
Doing Something about Child Abuse: The Need to Narrow the Grounds for State Intervention; Besharov, Douglas J.

handle is hein.journals/hjlpp8 and id is 555 raw text is: DOING SOMETHING ABOUT CHILD
ABUSE: THE NEED TO NARROW THE
GROUNDS FOR STATE
INTERVENTION
DOUGLAS J. BESHAROV*
The American public is no longer unaware of child abuse
and its consequences. Far from it. The feeling that child
abuse constitutes a major and growing problem is wide-
spread, as is the mandate for government and individual
action.
Americans want something done to prevent child abuse, they
may be ready to identify what they can do; it is timely to pro-
vide such education.
Lou Harris1
I. INTRODUCTION
News stories frequently remind us that many children are
brutally maltreated by their parents, the very persons who
should be giving them love and protection. They are beaten
until their bodies no longer heal; they are scalded in pots of
boiling water; they are so starved and dehydrated that their
skin shrivels around their fragile bones; they are sexually as-
saulted and forced to perform perverted acts of all kinds; and
they are locked in closets or chained to bed posts for days on
end.
Such horror stories make us eager to do something about
child abuse and child neglect. As a result, the last twenty years
have witnessed a nationwide expansion of child protection pro-
grams. However, in the rush to deal with this long-ignored
problem, the public, the policymakers, and the politicians have
© Douglas J. Besharov, 1985.
* J.D., LL.M.; Director, Social Invention Project, American Enterprise Institute
for Public Policy Research, Washington, D.C.; Director, U.S. National Center on Child
Abuse and Neglect, 1975-79. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author
and do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff, advisory panels, officers or trustees
of AEI. The author thanks Dee Mullarkey for assistance in the prepartation of the
footnotes for this article.
1. Summarizing the findings of a poll conducted by his organization. National Com-
mittee for Prevention of Child Abuse, A Survey of Public Perceptions of Child Abuse: The State
of the Economy, Risk of Involvement in Juvenile and Adult Crime, and What the Individual Can Do
To Prevent Abuse (Working Paper 003, 1982).

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