The Cruelty Man: Child Welfare, the NSPCC and the State in Ireland, 1886–1956
Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley, The Cruelty Man: Child Welfare, the NSPCC and the State in Ireland, 1886–1956 (Manchester University Press, 2013)
Recent debates surrounding children in State care, parental rights, and abuse in Ireland's industrial schools, concern issues that are rooted in the historical record. By examining the social problems addressed by philanthropists and child protection workers from the nineteenth century, we can begin to understand more about the treatment of children and the family today.
In Ireland, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) was the principle organisation involved in investigating families and protecting children. The 'cruelty men', as NSPCC inspectors were known, acted as child protection workers and 'children's police'. This book looks at their history as well as the history of Ireland's industrial schools, poverty in Irish families, changing ideas around childhood and parenthood and the lives of children in Ireland from 1838 to 1970. It is a history filled with stories of real families, families often at the mercy of the State, the Catholic Church and voluntary organisations. It is a must-read for all with an interest in the Irish family and Irish childhood past and present.