To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
A postgraduate student went to her first postgraduate conference run by the Society of Legal Scholars (then the Society of Public Teachers of Law) in, I think, 1985. She had recently done an MA in Sociology and Law (and a history degree in the 1960s) so knew a bit – a very small bit – about thinking on children’s rights and sociolegal theory. Her short talk must have been about divorce mediation – conciliation, as it then was – because that was the focus of her doctoral work, and the chair for that session was John Eekelaar. The student was, of course, me, and I recall that John was pleasant and did not look askance at my first attempt to do a paper. In retrospect, I realise how kind it was of him to take time to chair papers in a postgraduate conference, and to take us all seriously. For me, that was important.
I had, by then, read the article that John and two colleagues had written in 1982. This led me to what may now seem an obvious fact, but was to me then a blinding flash: that how a person, in this case a child, was perceived and labelled made a great difference to how they were treated. Being seen as a victim could lead to help, and being seen as a threat or offender often led to punishment and prison, and so the image of the child that had been constructed made a world of difference. I am grateful for that understanding, because it formed the basis of much of my own work.
Another article by John, with Robert Dingwall, was also helpful because, by then teaching in a Law School, I had not realised, green as I was, that I could use my background in history to critique legal developments. This was a few years before the Socio-Legal Studies Association was founded, in 1990, and I had thought I needed to write only ‘pure’ law. I am very grateful for that, too.
Of equal importance was my introduction to exceptionally clear thinking about children’s rights via the article Eekelaar had written in 1986, ‘The Emergence of Children’s Rights’, prompted by the important Richards and Gillick cases.
This article reviews the different forms of legal interventions which may be available to address parent abuse. It seeks to examine the evidence as to which are actually used currently and the problems which are inherent in them. We do this both by examining the statutory basis of the existing potential legal remedies and reported cases relating to those provisions, and by drawing on evidence from a small-scale study of relevant professional workers in one city. We conclude that while recourse to the police, and hence potentially the criminal justice system, is most frequent in practice, the criminal justice system is not suited to tackling the issue. Other interventions, such as anti-social behaviour orders and injunctions, also reveal problems. Law struggles to find an effective response to such a complex problem. Notwithstanding the acknowledged limits of law in changing behaviour, we argue that law could be used more effectively to reduce the incidence and impact of parent abuse.
Family law has not only become a specialism in its own right, but family law practitioners have claimed for themselves special characteristics. This article reviews the attributes and skills to which the legal profession, and particularly the solicitors branch, aspires. It notes that the ‘specialist’ forms of client care and case management, familiarity with rules and procedures and a conciliatory approach are not unique to family lawyering. Family lawyers also require themselves to have knowledge of ‘non-law’ matters, especially those relating to the welfare of children. On reviewing recent empirical research studies about the work of solicitors, the article asserts that, for family lawyers, non-law norms control their practice and form the framework for a very particular type of client care. The article then goes on to examine - by using research on solicitors attitudes to the ‘meaning’ of the concept of parental responsibility - how practitioners cope with the tensions inherent in modern family legislation. It concludes that solicitors in practice convey policy messages rather than clear messages about legal rights and remedies.