Parents used to regularly beat their children. If the children worked, their overseers beat them. It was not only common, it was expected. The idea that children need to be protected from their parents is a new one. People used to feel that parents had their children's best interests at heart and were the ones who had the right to make decisions for them. It would have been unusual for anyone to intervene if parents were being abusive.
Back in the 1800's, children were expected to work just as hard as anyone else. The use of child labor today is unacceptable. Children are expected to go to school and learn so that they may become productive members of society when they become adults.
So much has changed about social attitudes about child abuse!
I would focus on three areas. First, consider the child labor laws. These limit how much a child can work today, and pay close attention to children working too much. In 1870 that would not have been a concern; children worked so much that they would be considered abused. Second, the idea of child abuse and legal structures focused on it dates from that time and after. For example, in 1899 the first juvenile court was founded. Third, there have been tremendous changes in what is considered acceptable discipline by parents. Beatings that would cause a parent to lose custody today were legal in 1870.
Child labour is just one of the many aspects of child abuse. How children are looked after and brought up in families is also an area where child abuse may take place intentionally and intentionally.
Considerable improvements have taken place around the world in the way children are cared for and looked after. To some extent passing of laws has helped to cut down gross neglect and harsh punishment on part of parents and teachers. But the most of the gains have come out of greater understanding of better ways of dealing with and educating children. The general economic prosperity - resulting in improved public facilities, as well as greater resources of parents have also have helped.
As a result children today are happier, healthier and more knowledgeable. However still there is some scope for improvement. Also, children today face other kind of problems like alienation, which needs to be tackled now.