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BATTERED CHILDREN CASES IN THE COURTS (FROM CONCERNING CHILD ABUSE, 1975, BY ALFRED WHITE FRANKLIN - SEE NCJ-26797)

NCJ Number
48971
Author(s)
W CAVENAGH; C M WHITSON; B A REINHART; L S KEITH
Date Published
1975
Annotation
THIS PAPER CLARIFIES THE ROLE OF THE COURT IN CHILD ABUSE CASES IN ENGLAND. CHILD ABUSE IS EXAMINED FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE LAY MAGISTRATE'S COURT, WITH A LOOK AT OTHER ASPECTS AS THEY RELATE TO THE COURT PROCEEDINGS.
Abstract
IN BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND, 7 TO 10 ADULT COURTS AND 1 OR 2 JUVENILE COURTS SIT DAILY. ONLY 12 TO 24 CASES OF CHILD ABUSE ARE BROUGHT ANNUALLY. THE VAST MAJORITY OF MAGISTRATES HAVE NO COURT EXPERIENCES IN THESE CASES, WHICH TESTIFIES TO THE LACK OF INSTRUCTION IN THIS AREA INCLUDED IN THE BASIC TRAINING OF MAGISTRATES. IT IS THEREFORE THE DUTY OF THE PARTIES INVOLVED TO DRAW THE COURTS' ATTENTION TO THE MEANING AND SIGNIFICANCE OF PARTICULAR POINTS IN THE EVIDENCE. CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS AGAINST ADULTS ARE USUALLY BROUGHT UNDER THE CHILDREN'S AND YOUNG PERSONS ACT OF 1933. CARE PROCEEDINGS ARE BROUGHT IN THE JUVENILE COURT IN ITS CIVIL JURISDICTION UNDER THE CHILDREN'S AND YOUNG PERSONS ACT OF 1969. THE WEAKNESS OF CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS AND THE COMPLICATIONS THAT ARISE DURING CONCURRENT CARE AND CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS ARE DISCUSSED. SUGGESTIONS ARE MADE REGARDING STEPS TO BE TAKEN PENDING A FINAL DECISION OR A JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL FROM THE CRIMINAL COURT. THE PROBLEMS OF ADMISSIBILITY OF EVIDENCE AND DIFFICULTIES WITH WITNESSES AND EXPERT WITNESSES ARE DESCRIBED. THE PAPER ALSO ADDRESSED THE PROBLEM OF DECIDING WHAT KIND OF ORDER SHOULD BE SOUGHT. A CONCLUSION REGARDING WEAKNESSES OF THE PROCEEDINGS IN GENERAL IS OFFERED; IT COVERS THE COURT'S LACK OF POWER TO FORCE PARENTS TO SUBMIT TO PSYCHIATRIC EXAMINATION AND THE DIFFICULTY OF DETERMINING EXACTLY WHAT KIND OF SOCIAL SERVICES SHOULD BE PROVIDED. SUGGESTIONS INCLUDE APPOINTMENT OF INDEPENDENT GUARDIANS TO WATCH OVER A CHILD WHERE HE APPEARS TO NEED CARE, WHEN A CARE ORDER HAS BEEN REVOKED, OR WHEN A SUPERVISION ORDER HAD BEEN DISCHARGED. ALL PERSONS INTERESTED IN THE CHILD SHOULD BE NOTIFIED, BECAUSE THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO APPEAR AND BE HEARD. INTRAAGENCY CONSULTATION AND COOPERATION AMONG DOCTORS, POLICE, LOCAL AUTHORITY, AND THE NATIONAL SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO CHILDREN IS TO BE ENCOURAGED. (RBS)