Should Parental Authority Be Restricted And How

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Presentation to London School of Economics on whether parental authority should be restricted in order to fulfill the Convention on the Rights of the Child

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Should Parental Authority Be Restricted And How

  1. 1. To fulfill the Convention on the Rights of the Child explain whether and how parental authority needs to be restricted Janice Horslen 24 th February 2010
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Should parental authority be restricted? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Evidence-base </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social response </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Policy/legislative response </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If so, how should parental authority be restricted? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Legislative interventions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Empowerment of children </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Empowerment of communities </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Should parental authority be restricted to fulfill the CRC? <ul><li>Evidence-base: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multiple theories of causation of abuse; none conclusive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consensus on multi-factorial nature and dynamic interplay of risk and resilience factors </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Should parental authority be restricted to fulfill the CRC? <ul><li>Evidence-base: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What works? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>UN strategy: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>addressing social exclusion / supporting social change </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Most successful programs address internal dynamics of families </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Tension bet empowering & protecting families vs. stigmatisation and targeting services? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>MacMillan et al (2009): </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Nurse-Family Partnership </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Early Start </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Triple P </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Should parental authority be restricted to fulfill the CRC? <ul><li>Social responses: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Authority & legitimacy of health and welfare professionals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Takes a village to raise a child’ VS private endeavor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perceptions of childhood and the purpose of childrearing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>View of ‘good’ childrearing shaped by dominant groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Best interests contextual and relative </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Should parental authority be restricted to fulfill the CRC? <ul><li>Dynamism of responses within societies: </li></ul><ul><li>1881: </li></ul><ul><li>Lord Shaftesbury ’s response to a Reverend concerned about the plight of mistreated children: </li></ul><ul><li>“ The evils you state are enormous and indisputable, but they are of so private, internal and domestic a nature as to be beyond the reach of legislation ” </li></ul><ul><li>2003: </li></ul><ul><li>Chief Secretary to the Treasury in Foreword to Every Child Matters: </li></ul><ul><li>“ We have to do more both to protect children and ensure each child fulfils their potential. Security and opportunity must go hand in hand. Child protection must be a fundamental element across all public, private and voluntary organisations. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Should parental authority be restricted to fulfill the CRC? <ul><li>Dynamism of responses within societies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Poor Laws </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Post-war consensus; Children Act (1948) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cowell inquiry (1974) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beckford inquiry (1985) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cleveland inquiry (1988); Children Act 1989 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Climbié inquiry (2003); Children Act 2004 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Baby Peter (2008) </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Should parental authority be restricted to fulfill the CRC? <ul><li>Policy responses: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Shaped by welfare state: social democratic / liberal / corporatist </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>UK principles for restricting parental authority: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>suffering or are at risk of suffering significant harm </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>evolving capacities; Fraser Guidelines </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Should parental authority be restricted to fulfill the CRC? <ul><li>Key issues: </li></ul><ul><li>CRC grants parents the right to assistance in carrying out their responsibilities –as a general rule State s support parental authority. </li></ul><ul><li>CRC protects families from unnecessary State interference. </li></ul><ul><li>In some aspects of children’s lives, for example relating to education, the CRC explicitly supports parental choice. </li></ul><ul><li>CRC do es not stifle parenting ; it set s a benchmark for acceptable treatment </li></ul><ul><li>Restrictions on parental authority will vary over time and place dependent on dominant social attitudes, welfare regimes and the development of research evidence. </li></ul>
  10. 10. How should parental authority be restricted <ul><ul><li>Legislative interventions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Empowerment of children </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Empowerment of communities </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. How should parental authority be restricted UK G’ment favours legislative approach Prosecuting for maltreatment Fraser Guidelines Court rulings on medical care Fixed Penalty Notice Removal of child to alternative care Parenting Contracts Individual Support Orders Parenting Orders Anti-Social Behaviour Contracts
  12. 12. How should parental authority be restricted <ul><li>Alternative approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Empowering children </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Helplines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Legal empowerment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developing CRC knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advocacy groups </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. How should parental authority be restricted <ul><li>Alternative approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Community empowerment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strengthen protective role of communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Community outreach </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Community awareness </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Normalisation of rights-approach </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Engagement of civil society and media in open discussion </li></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. To fulfill the CRC explain whether and how parental authority needs to be restricted <ul><li>Support for family units to respect & promote child rights will be in the best interests of most children and parents. </li></ul><ul><li>Tolerance of restrictions on parental authority will vary over time and context. </li></ul><ul><li>Some circumstances will require State to firmly override parental authority to protect children in danger. </li></ul><ul><li>Parental authority must be limited by the evolving capacities of the child. </li></ul><ul><li>Parental authority requires the checks and balances of empowered and knowledgeable communities and children alongside a clear legislative framework with appropriate enforcement. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Should parental authority be restricted and if so, how? <ul><li>Ashley - case study example of tensions bet best interests principle & parental authority: </li></ul><ul><li>Aged 9 yrs at time of case in 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>Born with severe neurological impairment; unable to walk, talk, eat, sit up, or roll over. </li></ul><ul><li>Medics said Ashley had reached, and would remain at, the developmental level of a three-month-old. </li></ul><ul><li>2004: Ashley’s parents and medical team devised the “Ashley Treatment”: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>high-dose estrogen therapy to stunt growth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>removal of the uterus via hysterectomy to prevent menstrual discomfort </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>removal of her breast buds to limit the growth of her breasts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Best interests argument from parents: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keeping Ashley small meant she could be moved more often, held in their arms, be taken on trips more frequently, have more exposure to activities/social gatherings, and continue use a standard size bathtub. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ashley’s best interests are served because the increase in Ashley’s movement results in better blood circulation, better gastro-functioning, stretching, and motion of her joints, making Ashley less prone to infection. </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Should parental authority be restricted and if so, how? <ul><li>Issues to consider: </li></ul><ul><li>Is the best interests principle a useful construct in these circumstances? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are Ashley’s best interests? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who should define them and how? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Should parental authority be exercised in this case? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Where are the boundaries of parental healthcare decision-making for severely disabled children ? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is the role of the State and the medical profession? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How does the CRC help inform this scenario? </li></ul>

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