cxli, 1020 pages ; 24 cm.
There is universal agreement that 'something must be done' about child abuse, that the legal and policy frameworks established for the protection of children are inadequate. Time and again this is brought home by cases that reveal major failures in the investigation and prosecution of child abuse suspects. There is much less clarity about what qualifies as child abuse and what should be done about it. Failings in the law are often invoked by politicians and the media at times of crisis, when a societal response is demanded. The presence of new legislation on the statute book or the creation of rules and protocols which professionals must follow is one socially acceptable sign that the problem has been recognised and that an effective response has been implemented. Are these ad hoc responses helpful? If not, what should be done to address the current weaknesses in the protection of children?
This book looks across legal and geographical boundaries to consider the law and policy on child abuse. It examines the whole process of child protection, from complaint investigation to prosecution, and analyses the legal disciplines of criminal, family, tort and evidence law as they bear on child abuse cases. Material is drawn from over 75 jurisdictions, including major empirical research in the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Throughout the book's focus is on achieving a coherent program for reforming the law and practices responsible for child protection. Its contribution to policy debates was recognised by the Judges of the 2008 Inner Temple Book Prize who, in awarding it the prize for outstanding legal scholarship, heralded it as a 'masterly book on a hugely important subject', one that will 'make an outstanding contribution to the formation and understanding of legal policy'.