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The terms "child abuse," "child neglect," and "child maltreatment" are relatively new terms despite the fact that this social problem has existed through the ages.
Records have documented cruelty to children by adults throughout the ages and across societies.
As a consequence, social reforms targeted to children, such as child labor restrictions and compulsory education laws, began to emerge .
During the middle of the 20th century, there was increased emphasis on the rights of children, in part because of the grassroots movements advocating for the rights of disenfranchised populations .
Census data indicate that 50.4% of infants younger than 1 year of age are from racial/ethnic minority groups .
Hispanic infants comprise the largest portion, representing more than half of all births in 26 states including California, Texas, and New Mexico .
Despite these trends, the literature examining child abuse in immigrant and ethnic minority families is quite minimal when compared to the larger picture of child abuse/maltreatment research.
The increase in industrialization and urbanization of the early 20th century resulted in heightened crime, poverty, and social disorganization, all of which affected children.As early as the 16th century in England there have been concerted efforts to protect children from sexual abuse.For example, boys were protected from forced sodomy, and girls younger than 10 years of age were protected from forcible rape .Of the 489 articles that did examine ethnicity, 52.3% found ethnicity to have a statistically significant effect on child abuse and help seeking, which emphasizes the importance of considering the role of ethnicity in child abuse and neglect.Racial minority children are also over-represented in the child welfare system .