Child, Family & State


This course examines legal issues relating to children and how various legal, political, social, and economic institutions shape childhood and child development. A central focus is the allocation of authority among the child, the family, and the state: how the legal system attempts to reconcile commitments to the fundamental constitutional liberty of parents, state authority for promoting the well-being and protecting the interests of children, and the rights and interests of children themselves. Topics considered include: the scope of parental liberty as a constitutional right, children's rights (including human rights) and obligations and the debate over children's rights, education (including student speech and anti-bullying laws), defining and creating the parent-child relationship (including adoption), parental discipline of children, child abuse and neglect, foster care, medical treatment of and medical decision-making by children, child pornography and "sexting," sexual and reproductive rights and responsibilities of adolescents, juvenile delinquency and the juvenile justice system, and the legal representation of children. Students have two options for the written requirement: a final exam or three papers on assigned topics. There is also a limited research paper option (the paper will satisfy the Upperclass Writing Requirement). In addition, there will be one pass/fail skills exercise and reflection paper.