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Natural sympathy, however, and willingness to bear a distributed burden for the common good, rather than to enforce an individual one, contribute to the acceptance of the care of orphans as a public duty.
In Biblical times the fatherless, the stranger, and the widow shared the excess fruits of the harvest ( Deuteronomy ).
Luxury and paganism introduced more selfish considerations.
The Athenians viewed the duty as economic and patriotic, and ordained that children of citizens killed in war were to be educated up to eighteen years of age by the State.In the next century the exposures, principally by Charles Dickens, of the evils bred by the workhouse and the indenturing system led to many reforms.Numerous private asylums were founded in the reign of Queen Victoria under royal patronage, and with considerable official oversight and solicitude.The death of one or both parents makes the child of the very poor a ward of the community.The obligation of support is imposed upon parents or grandparents by nearly every system of laws ; but there is no such obligation upon any other relative.