50 Years After the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, it’s Time to Redefine Child Protection Through a Lens of Equity and Support

OPINION: By broadly defining abuse and neglect, CAPTA enabled the creation of a punitive child welfare system that conflated the circumstances of poverty with parental neglect, disproportionally affecting Black families. Fifty years later, Congress must act on what we have learned since its passage: Black families need support, not surveillance.

Preventing child abuse is something we all care about. Yet, the first federal law enacted to do just that fails to actually reduce harm to children, instead powering a massive child welfare system that traumatizes and disrupts the lives of millions of Americans — disproportionately Black communities and those experiencing poverty.

As we honor Black history this February, we look back at a decades-old law that remains, to this day, a blight on generations of Black families.

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