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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 127388 Find in a Library
Title: Legal Issues in Violence Toward Children (From Case Studies in Family Violence, P 57-71, 1991, Robert T. Ammerman and Michel Hersen, eds. -- See NCJ-127384)
Author(s): B K MacMurray; B A Carson
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 15
Sponsoring Agency: Plenum Press
New York, NY 10013
Sale Source: Plenum Press
233 Spring Street
New York, NY 10013
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Contemporary work examining legal issues of violence toward children tends to focus on when the State should intervene in situations of child maltreatment and how the State should respond when it does intervene.
Abstract: All States require physicians, teachers, and social workers to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect, and most States provide specific criminal penalties for failing to report. The justification for mandatory reporting is based on the view that children, either because of their physical immaturity or powerlessness, are unable to make reports for themselves. Despite the passage of mandatory reporting laws, there are still problems in the reporting process. One issue involves determining the most appropriate agencies to receive reports of suspected abuse. Another important issue relates to the pre-eminence of the legal system in processing maltreatment cases. All States have laws stating that emotional or psychological abuse is illegal, but few States have precise definitions as to what this means. As such, it is difficult for the criminal justice system to pursue legal charges in these cases. The investigation of child maltreatment plays a key role in how a case will proceed through the criminal justice system. Prosecutor decisions, court testimony, and case disposition are significant aspects of child abuse and neglect proceedings. When cases of child maltreatment are discovered, every effort should be made to work with families to stop the violence. Criminal proceedings should be reserved for only the most serious cases. Many concerns about the legal system's involvement in child maltreatment cases center around the rights of children and their families. Child advocacy appears to be an effective way of protecting children's legal rights. 52 references
Main Term(s): Child abuse reporting
Index Term(s): Child abuse investigations; Child abuse prevention; Child victims; Crimes against children; Victims of violent crime
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