Overview of Child Abuse and Neglect in Delaware
Child abuse came into the spotlight in the Delmarva area following the revelation of sexual abuse by Dr. Earl Bradley, former pediatrician from Lewes, Delaware and convicted serial child molester. He was indicted in 2010 on 471 charges of molesting, raping, and exploiting 103 child patients (102 girls and 1 boy). News Journal of Delaware (2010). Some of the victims were as young as three months old. He was charged in April 2010 with an additional 58 offenses in relation to the abuse of 24 additional victims. He has been described by a few reputable news outlets and commentators as "the worst pedophile in American history”. Dr. Eli Newberger, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a pediatrician who has studied child abuse cases for almost 40 years, said Bradley's was "the worst pediatrician abuse case I've ever heard of." The Week. (2010). Bradley was ultimately found guilty on all charges and was sentenced to 14 consecutive terms of life plus 165 years in prison without parole on June 26, 2011. His conviction was affirmed by the Delaware Supreme Court on September 6, 2012.
In 2013, Delaware had 17,270 total referrals for child abuse and neglect. Of those, 6,916 reports were referred for investigation. In 2013, 1,915 children were victims of abuse or neglect in Delaware, a rate of 9.4 per 1,000 children, representing a 21.9% decrease from 2012. Of these children, 37.0% were neglected, 17.9% were physically abused, and 8.6% were sexually abused. The number of child victims has decreased 5.0% in comparison to the number of victims in 2009. In 2013, six children in Delaware died because of abuse or neglect. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2015). It is not clear if abuse has increased over time or if we have just gotten better at identifying it.
Each year in the United States, 250,000 children have been reported injured by an act of child abuse or neglect. According to Child Welfare League of America (2016), there are a suspected 300,000 to 1.5 million children injured each year because of child abuse and neglect. In the United States in 2015, approximately 879,000 children suffered from abuse and neglect and in 2015, approximately 2500 children were abused daily. Many of these cases were never reported to child protective services. Children have been subject to abuse by their parents or other adults since presumably the beginning of time. For many centuries, laws failed to protect children from abuse.
Under English common law, children were considered the property of their fathers, as women were considered property of their husbands, until the late 1800s. American colonists in the 16th and 17th centuries carried the tradition of children being property of their fathers to the early years of the United States. Child Welfare Gateway (2011). In the early 1870s, child abuse captured the nation's attention with news that an 8-year-old orphan named...