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NCJ Number: 136536 Find in a Library
Title: Where Have All the Heroes Gone? A Study of Juvenile Related Decisions Following DeShaney
Journal: Journal of Juvenile Law  Volume:11  Issue:1  Dated:(1990)  Pages:23-32
Author(s): K Fischer
Date Published: 1990
Page Count: 10
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The U.S. Supreme Court decision in DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services in Wisconsin held that the due process clause of the 14th amendment does not provide relief to a minor child for a State's failure to protect him against violence committed by a private actor.
Abstract: Joshua DeShaney was 1 year old in 1980 when his parents divorced, and his father received custody. Two years later, Winnebago County authorities learned that Joshua might be a victim of child abuse. In 1983, Joshua was admitted to the hospital with injuries appearing to be from child abuse. The Winnebago County Department of Social Services later concluded, however, that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against the father. Joshua's mother filed an action asserting that the department deprived her son of his liberty without due process under the 14th amendment by failing to protect Joshua from injuries inflicted by his father. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that nothing in the language of the due process clause requires the State to protect the life, liberty, and property of its citizens from private actors. It remains to be seen the extent to which the DeShaney decision will affect children who have been placed in a custodial setting by the State and who have been injured as a result. Lower courts have been in a state of flux in trying to decide what constitutes a special relationship. Other court decisions relevant to the DeShaney case are noted. 44 footnotes
Main Term(s): Rights of minors
Index Term(s): Child abuse; Child custody; Right to Due Process; US Supreme Court decisions; Wisconsin
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