That children were the property of their parents, a principle that prevailed in the common law, served as the foundation for the belief, supported by law, that parents had enormous power over their children. This gave rise to the misuse of that power, resulting in harm to children. Child abuse and neglect was brought to the attention of the public and law makers during the 1960s, which resulted in the development of laws to protect children, especially the mandatory child abuse reporting statute enacted in all states as federal legislation designed to support state child welfare programs. Late in the twentieth century and in the beginning of the twenty-first century, child sexual abuse by clergy became widely known and resulted in bankrupting Roman Catholic dioceses because of civil actions and the jailing of priests and other clergy for their criminal behavior in sexually abusing children under their supervision.
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