Dec. 21, 2012

“In the accusatorial post-McMartin climate, day care providers… took measures to protect themselves from false allegations. They installed video cameras to record all of their activities, opened up private spaces to public view by taking down doors to bathrooms and closets and, fearing the act now could be misinterpreted, stopped hugging and holding their young charges.

“State legislatures… hurriedly mandated the fingerprinting and criminal records check of all current and prospective day care providers; state licensing agencies tightened regulations and by legislative fiat were given more teeth to enforce them. Yet insurance liability premiums soared, forcing many small day care centers out of business and many more, unlicensed and uninsured, to go underground.

“Heralded at the start of the (1980s) as playgrounds for children, day care centers were feared at its end as playthings of the devil.”

– From “The Devil Goes to Day Care: McMartin and the Making of a Moral Panic” by Mary De Young in the Journal of American Culture (April 1, 1997)

Second to none was North Carolina’s overreaction, highlighted by the creation of “interagency task forces.”