Child maltreatment has a vast historical background. What society today considers as child maltreatment is seen as being horrible. Before laws ruling against certain treatments towards children were established, the way children were treated was extremely terrible and would be unthinkable in society today.
Before the end of the 19th century, many areas of the Western world looked at infant and child mortality as a normal occurrence. As many as 15-20 per cent of children died within their first year of life. Much of this was attributed to the lack of education of parents. They did not know about proper nutritional requirements for infants. Healthcare was also not very advanced and as a result, many of the illnesses that infants are prone to today were not treated effectively in the 19th century. Parenting itself was not taken very seriously during that time period. The notion of giving infants attention and care was not popular, and it is a well-known fact that infants require a lot of care in order to develop properly and in some cases, survive. There were some parents who were not directly involved in caring for their children until after they were a year old.
Wealthy parents sent their children to wet nurses to be looked after. Wet nurses were women who provided breast-feeding services. They were often women who lived in poverty and made a living this way and were usually not paid very much. To compensate for their low wages they took in more babies than they could care for. This was detrimental for the infants because they were not able to provide them with the attention they required so they were neglected there as well. Many of the infants that went to wet nurses to be looked after were abandoned at local hospitals. These hospitals did not have the resources to look after the infants so they were sent to already busy wet nurses. The overcrowding at the homes of the wet nurses was not entirely their fault... [continues]
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