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NCJ Number: 50942 Find in a Library
Title: LEGAL RESPONSES TO CHILD ABUSE
Journal: FAMILY LAW QUARTERLY  Volume:12  Issue:1  Dated:(SPRING 1978)  Pages:1-36
Author(s): B M DICKENS
Corporate Author: American Bar Association
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 36
Sponsoring Agency: American Bar Association

Institute for Scientific Information
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Sale Source: Institute for Scientific Information
University City Science Ctr
3501 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: LEGAL PRINCIPLES AND PROBLEMS ARISING IN STRUCTURING AND OPERATING FAMILY INTERVENTION UPON EVIDENCE OF CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT ARE DISCUSSED, AND SOME RECOMMENDATIONS ARE PRESENTED.
Abstract: CHILD ABUSE LEGISLATION AND CASE LAW IN THE UNITED STATES, CANADA, AND ENGLAND ARE DISCUSSED. LEGAL DEFINITIONS OF CHILD ABUSE AND CHILDREN IN NEED OF CARE CONSIDER THE PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, AND MENTAL HEALTH OF MINORS, RESULTING IN INTERLOCKED SCHEMES OF COMPULSORY REPORTING, INSTITUTIONAL INTERVENTION, AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS. THERE IS A LACK OF UNIVERSALITY AND CLARITY IN OFFICIAL REGULATIONS DEFINING CHILD ABUSE AND DESCRIBING PERSONS TRAINED TO IDENTIFY THE CRIME. CHILD ABUSE SHOULD BE OBJECTIVELY ASSESSED THROUGH INDIVIDUAL CONDITIONS AND CIRCUMSTANCES RATHER THAN THROUGH AN ARBITRARY DETERMINATION OF PARENTAL IMMORALITY. PROFESSIONALS SUCH AS PHYSICIANS, SOCIAL WORKERS, AND TEACHERS ARE IN A POSITION TO IDENTIFY ABUSE, AND IT IS REALISTIC TO DEVELOP LEGAL SCHEMES FOR CONTROLLING CHILD ABUSE THAT ARE ADDRESSED TO THESE SEGMENTS. JUDICIAL OPINION PERMITS INTERVENTION WHEN A REASONABLE APPREHENSION OF ABUSE EXISTS; HOWEVER, A STRONGER STANDARD OF PROOF MAY BE REQUIRED. LEGISLATIVE ISSUES REGARDING REPORTING CONCERN WHO SHOULD HAVE REPORTING DUTIES, WHETHER OR NOT THE DUTIES SHOULD BE LEGAL, WHO SHOULD BE REPORTED, AND WHAT RIGHTS SHOULD BE ACKNOWLEDGED FOR THOSE REPORTED. A FORMULA MIGHT BE PROVIDED MAKING COMPULSORY REPORTING APPLICABLE TO ANY PERSON WHO HAS CAUSE TO SUSPECT CHILD ABUSE DURING THE COURSE OF PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES, AND MINOR FINES MIGHT BE ISSUED FOR FAILURE TO REPORT. SELF-REPORTING SHOULD NOT BE DETERRED BY PENAL CONSEQUENCES. THE VARIETIES OF CHILD ABUSE AFFORD CONSIDERABLE CHOICE AS TO CLASSIFICATION AND PENAL RESPONSE TO THE CRIME. PUNISHMENT OF OFFENDERS IS NOT ALWAYS COMPATIBLE WITH THE VICTIMS' BEST INTEREST IF THE OFFENDER AND VICTIM SHARE A CONTINUING RELATIONSHIP, NOR IS INCARCERATION SUITABLE FOR IMPROVING A CHILD ABUSER'S PARENTING SKILLS. LEVELS OF JUDICIAL PROTECTION INCLUDE OFFICIAL SUPERVISION OF THE CHILD, TEMPORARY REMOVAL OF THE CHILD FROM THE HOME, AND PERMANENT REMOVAL. THE CONFLICT BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS AND CHILD PROTECTION IN CHILD ABUSE TRIALS IS NOTED. THERE ARE OFTEN NO WITNESSES AND THE JURY MUST JUDGE ON CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE. THERE IS ALSO CONFUSION ABOUT THE FUNCTION OF THE CHILD'S COUNSEL. A TREND TOWARD CENTRALIZED RECORDKEEPING OF ABUSE CASES CREATES A CLASH BETWEEN INFORMATION PRIVACY AND THE INFORMATION NEED SPURRED BY NEW TEAM TREATMENT METHODS. FINALLY, THE ROLE OF PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS IS DISCUSSED AND THEIR POSSIBLE CONFLICT WITH POLICE SERVICES IS CONSIDERED. REFERENCES ARE FOOTNOTED. (DAG)
Index Term(s): Child abuse; Citizen crime reporting; Domestic relations; Home environment; Intervention; Juvenile dependency and neglect; Punishment; Treatment
Note: PRESENTED AT THE SECOND WORLD CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY ON FAMILY LAW IN MONTREAL, CANADA, JUNE 1977
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