The NSPCC ‘in transition’, 1922–56
in The cruelty man
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Chapter Three addresses the period from 1922 to the setting up of the ISPCC in 1956. From 1922, the Society had to adjust its focus to survive in independent Ireland. This notion of ‘crisis and change’ was not unique to the Irish Society, but Irish circumstances exacerbated the need for changing foci. In the aftermath of the First World War, many states had engaged in a discourse on the rights of children, the role of the State in child welfare and interventions in the family. For the Irish NSPCC, the challenges to its existence were significantly increased due to the Catholic Church’s increasing influence in child welfare; a loss in the earlier financial support provided by the Anglo-Irish; and increasing numbers of families approaching it for material assistance. Its response was to redefine its role - now providing advice and material assistance, not solely threatening and prosecuting parents. The expansion and re-categorisation of child neglect was central to this, as was the Society’s efforts in highlighting issues of over-crowding, children’s courts, widow’s pensions, poor relief, illegitimacy, and desertion. Although these were pertinent issues, the issues the Society chose to ignore demonstrate its continuing collaboration with the State, most significantly in its involvement in prosecuting parents and sending children to industrial schools.

The cruelty man

Child welfare, the NSPCC and the State in Ireland, 1889–1956

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