The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse has been told that in the 1930s the biggest single factor prompting child cruelty inspectors to visit homes in Ireland was neglect.
The Irish Society for the Protection of Children told the commission that as long ago as the late 1940s it was calling for more help for abused and vulnerable children.
The Society's Chief Executive, Paul Gilligan, said that in the 1930s some parents were asking the society to get their children into industrial schools in preference to workhouses or even to facing death at home from hunger or disease.
He said that in 1957, 1.3% of cases ended up with children being sent to the schools.
The rest of the charity's cases were helped at home, often in conjunction with the St Vincent de Paul Society and the Legion of Mary.
Mr Gilligan apologised to anyone who was abused in an industrial school which the society had helped them to get into.
Earlier, the commission chairman was told he should consider his position after he rejected a demand for an adjournment from an expert on religious affairs.
Mr Justice Sean Ryan had told the author John Cooney that he was free to seek redress for damages which he claims he suffered when a solicitor criticised him at yesterday's sitting.
The solicitor was representing the Christian Brothers.