Children and the Law

Course number: LAW 3090

Relationships between children and youth, family, state and law are examined within an interdisciplinary context, focusing on such issues as rights theories and the public/private distinction; regulation of young offenders; child protection and state intervention; children in the courts; and the particular challenges of older children/young adults at the boundary between childhood and adulthood.

COURSE CONTENT: Children and youth in the last few decades have been given special recognition and increased protection under provincial, federal and international law. But doctrines and beliefs developed in periods when the social value of children was low, and the legal duty of parents and the state minimal, continue to influence the way the law views children. Values associated with parental autonomy and family privacy, and beliefs about the capacity of children, limit the role of the state in protecting children and youth from parental incapacity, and in providing appropriate social and legal structures to ensure their general welfare.

These issues are explored from an interdisciplinary perspective through an examination of the relationship of children and youth, family and state.  Topics to be covered include youth and children’s rights, state and parental responsibilities, adoption, child welfare, youth criminal justice, children and youth in immigration, mature minors and young adults, and the role of early interventions in supporting the thriving of children and youth.

TEACHING METHOD: Seminar, with emphasis on critical engagement in discussions. Members of the legal and helping professions will be invited to participate. Students will lead discussions and will keynote their research in advance of their seminar presentation (a preliminary bibliography and summary are to be distributed at the preceding class).

TERM WORK REQUIRED: Emphasis on reading, engagement with class discussion, and individual research.
BOOKS: The materials for this Course are required reading.

METHOD OF EVALUATION: 60% of the grade is assigned to a paper, on an approved topic, of about 7500 words, 15% is assigned for developing discussion questions and leading discussion for one scheduled class, 15% is assigned for the presentation of research, and 10% for a short paper reflecting on the visit to the Youth Court.


INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Lorna A. Turnbull



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