I'm certainly not as much of a historian than I believe you are but my impression is that today's (western) system is generally less physically damaging to children than systems in the past. I don't believe love is present in physical damage. Love can still be present in emotional or social damage, which today often seems to occur unintentionally (I know Hajduk would argue that).
I can't know for sure but from my reading, the nuclear family systems today flow more love to the children than ever before. But yes, of course I see problems with both systems (and all systems to date). I just think it is at least moving in the right direction.
It baffles me that our systems are not entirely focused on the children, our future. That we procreate and "raise" children to be just like us but with more money of course instead of following hints from the rest of nature that encourage and honor experimentation, exploration, risk and reward, and growth (improvement) as most important. IMHO every fucking decision being made in the world should ask first, what will be better for the children? That's the whole system I want to look at.
To be on topic, in my experience, we (society) have unhealthy attitudes and rules about sex regarding children. I find all children to be beautiful in individual ways and I love them all. When we are allowed to be close, I tell them that and touch them (pet them within legal boundaries). They tell me it is "very soothing" and invite me to do so. Recently I heard this:
"why can't you pet me 'all over'?"
"it's not allowed"
"you mean mommy and daddy?"
I very much agree that systems that denounce love as abusive are still off track. Maybe in a few thousand years we'll learn better.