The focus of this paper is on the two major axes that have influenced the course of child welfare policy. One upholds corporal punishment as the predominant method of child rearing, that is, "Spare the rod, spoil the child." The other defines the status of the child as property of "loving" parents. Because of these two conceptions, the authors maintain that reliance on parental benevolence or the "benevolent intrusion" of the state will not suffice to protect the child's best interests. On the contrary, the examination of the socio-legal history of child abuse and neglect highlights the authors' warning that children will remain at the mercy of adult authorities unless advocates commit themselves to securing Constitutional safeguards of children's rights. Critical is the child's right to counsel that the authors view as a prerequisite in changing the legal and social power relationship between the child and the adult.

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