Lessons Learned from the Story of Mary Ellen Wilson

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What would you do if you were a witness to child abuse today? Would you turn your head as if it were not your business, would you intervene immediately, or would you report the abuser to the authorities? It was approximately 1869 - 1870 when a woman named Charlotte Fiehling "cringed at the sound of the child's beating. She had heard it before, but had never laid eyes the child. The little girl was no more than five or six if she was a day, judging by her size, and her poor legs were striped with the welts of a whip, her body bruised from blows. Her hair matted and infested with vermin, no doubt, and she did not appear to have had a bath of any kind for many days, if not weeks" (qtd. In Shelman 187). This little girls name was Mary Ellen Wilson. Prior to 1874, the United States did not have any laws to protect children from abuse. Though society is still learning, we have come along way. There are still many cases of child abuse, but as a society we now have ways to intervene, and prevent this abuse and neglect. It was in 1874 when the first court case of child abuse was argued. It was the case of, Mary Ellen Wilson. Mary Ellen as a young girl was severely beaten with whips, burned with the iron, cut with scissors, not to mention the sexual, and emotional abuse. It was in 1874 that a major change in our legal system took place in society. The change was a realization to our legal system that we have to do something about children like Mary Ellen. We have learned many lessons from this alarming event. Now we have choices, now we can help, and now we have child protection services. This case has delivered us, as a society, many messages. I am going to point out two major lessons I found are crucial to how we do thi... ... middle of paper ... ... lot of actions that show, as a society we have come along way, but we are still learning. There are still many cases of child abuse, but we now have knowledge and resources in place to intervene, and stop this abuse and neglect. Today, we have choices. Today, we can help, and protect. Today, we have child protection services. Because of all of this, today, we have the ability to, and the responsibility to keep our children safe. Works Cited DCF Webmaster. "State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families Making a difference for Children, Families and Communities Summary of Reporting Laws." (2002, October) DCF Home Page Retrieved April 15, 2003 from: <http://www.state.ct.us/dcf/reptlaws.htm> Shelman, Eric A. "Out Of The Darkness: The Story of Mary Ellen Wilson" Lake Forest, California: Dophin Moon Publishing, 2000.

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