A theoretical framework for designing and evaluating strategies to identify cases of serious child abuse and neglect

Mathews, Benjamin P. (2015) A theoretical framework for designing and evaluating strategies to identify cases of serious child abuse and neglect. In Mathews, Ben & Bross, Donald C. (Eds.) Mandatory Reporting Laws and the Identification of Severe Child Abuse and Neglect. Springer, New York & London, pp. 127-156.

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A central dimension of the State’s responsibility in a liberal democracy and any just society is the protection of individuals’ central rights and freedoms, and the creation of the minimum conditions under which each individual has an opportunity to lead a life of sufficient equality, dignity and value. A special subset of this responsibility is to protect those who are unable to protect themselves from genuine harm. Substantial numbers of children suffer serious physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and neglect at the hands of their parents and caregivers or by other known parties. Child abuse and neglect occurs in a situation of extreme power asymmetry. The physical, social, behavioural and economic costs to the individual, and the social and economic costs to communities, are vast. Children are not generally able to protect themselves from serious abuse and neglect. This enlivens both the State’s responsibility to protect the child, and the debate about how that responsibility can and should be discharged. A core question arises for all societies, given that most serious child maltreatment occurs in the family sphere, is unlikely to be disclosed, causes substantial harm to both individual and community, and infringes fundamental individual rights and freedoms. The question is: how can society identify these situations so that the maltreatment can be interrupted, the child’s needs for security and safety, and health and other rehabilitation can be met, and the family’s needs can be addressed to reduce the likelihood of recurrence? This chapter proposes a theoretical framework applicable for any society that is considering justifiable and effective policy approaches to identify and respond to cases of serious child abuse and neglect. The core of the theoretical framework is based on major principles from both classical liberal political philosophy (Locke and Mill), and leading political philosophers from the twentieth century and the first part of the new millennium (Rawls, Rorty, Okin, Nussbaum), and is further situated within fundamental frameworks of civil and criminal law, and health and economics.

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ID Code: 86522
Item Type: Book Chapter
Keywords: child abuse, child neglect, child health, public health, health law, child maltreatment, policy, philosophy, criminal law
DOI: 10.1007/978-94-017-9685-9_7
ISBN: 9789401796842
ISSN: 2211-9701
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Health Law Research
Current > Schools > School of Law
Deposited On: 12 Aug 2015 23:28
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2016 23:41

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