Kempe Center Marks 50 Years of Protecting Children

October 2022

C. Henry Kempe MDC. Henry Kempe MDSince it was established in 1972, the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect has been providing research, training, education, and innovative program development to address child abuse, neglect, and trauma.

Originally known as the National Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect, the center was founded by C. Henry Kempe, MD, with his wife, Ruth Kempe, MD. In 1962, Henry Kempe and colleagues published a groundbreaking study, “The Battered-Child Syndrome,” that called on physicians to recognize cases of abuse and to always act to protect the child.

Kempe had fled to the United States from Germany during the rise of the Nazi Party in the 1930s, and after earning his medical degree he became the youngest chair of the Department of Pediatrics. Kempe’s work led to the passage of the 1972 Colorado law requiring legal counsel for the child in all cases of suspected abuse.

“The Kempe Center helped to change the culture of children’s rights in our country and worldwide,” said Annie Kempe, one of Kempe’s daughters, a retired occupational therapist in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Her father felt a personal responsibility to all children and encouraged all citizens to share in that responsibility, Annie Kempe said. “He would say, ‘They are all our children.’” 

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