Legal Concepts of Childhood by Julia Fionda

By Julia Fionda

Essays at the means the concept that of kid is critical in numerous fields of legislations.

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Legal Concepts of Childhood

Essays at the approach the concept that of kid is critical in numerous fields of legislations.

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The law of torts is less retributive in its recognition of the dangers posed by unruly children. It has already been seen how childishness is readily recognised as hazardous and irresponsible. However, rather than impose liability on the children themselves, the law has rather seen the legal duties for preventing harm caused by children as falling on the parents: “The risk of children behaving like children is reduced to some extent by the imposition of duties on those who control children, principally parents, and those who control the accessibility to children of dangerous things.

The law here is largely concerned with who that primary decision-maker can be. Children who pass a test of competence can make their own decisions on medical treatment, but as in family law discussed in chapter eleven, this requires remarkably high degrees of intelligence and maturity. The courts have, according to Lewis, been reluctant to give the child or the parent complete autonomy and have retained an absolute power to override any decision involving medical treatment on the grounds of the child’s “best interests”.

The Independent was not alone in this focus, television, radio and the press generally were alive with the issue of the modern child. In the wake of the then current disturbing events the overall media response was, predictably, somewhat apocalyptic: “we are at a crisis point”; “morality has collapsed”; “we are breeding a nation of child killers”; “childhood itself has come to an end” and so on. The original events had already transformed into the cliched “moral panic” and experts, like me, were being marshalled in broadcasting studios nationwide to allay the fears of parents (or perhaps to establish the grounds for a running debate) by stating, in good Durkheimian fashion, that the rates of criminality and abuse remain stable and that statistically children are no more under threat than they were ten, twenty, or even thirty years ago.

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