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NCJ Number: 99363 Find in a Library
Title: Incorrigibility Laws - The State's Role in Resolving Intrafamily Conflict
Journal: Criminal Justice Ethics  Volume:4  Issue:1  Dated:(Winter/Spring 1985)  Pages:11-19
Author(s): M Guggenheim
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 9
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Incorrigibility laws are examined critically with reference to the philosophical, political, and policy issues involved in State intervention in intrafamilial disputes.
Abstract: Incorrigibility laws authorize interested persons, usually parents, to invoke the court's jurisdiction to resolve disputes of a noncriminal, and often trivial, nature. While the courts have consistently rejected challenges to such laws, this seems inconsistent with U.S. Supreme Court decisions granting a number of rights to minors, including the right to make decisions about such nontrivial matters as whether to obtain an abortion. Further, constitutional recognition of family privacy and integrity is an independent reason to reject these laws. Issues of constitutionality aside, the major problem with incorrigibility laws is that they involve widely dissimilar cases. Without uniformity of rules or establishment of a minimal threshold of harm or wrongfulness, children are subject to coercive State power for nonserious acts in which friends may engage with impunity. Elimination of incorrigibility laws would merely place the State in a neutral position in parent-child disputes and eliminate the State's role as an enforcer of parental prerogatives. This neutrality would not undermine parental authority, nor would it eliminate the traditional means parents have of exercising control over their children. Purely private ordering of the parent-child relationship is presently the norm. Further, while private and voluntary dispute resolution in families may not enforce obedience to the parent's wishes, it can foster the mutual respect which comes from the give and take of any voluntary relationship. Included are 39 footnotes.
Index Term(s): Alternative dispute settlement; Judicial decisions; Juvenile justice reform; Parent-Child Relations; Policy analysis; Rights of minors; Status offense decriminalization
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