|Type of paper:||Book review|
|Categories:||Judicial system Child abuse Human rights Books|
The book by Lynne Curry seeks to answer the question of whether the constitution protects children from violent parents. The central issue in this book is when Melody DeShaney sues Winsconsin for the failure of protecting her son from her angry husband, Joshua. Melody DeShaney violates the legislation rights of her son in the process. The Case that results from this issue is highly emotional, and it pits the family against the state and challenges people's views on their domestic associations, child abuse, and responsibilities and limits of the actions of the state in matters of its citizen's privacy. In the book, Curry provides that, the Supreme Court has a controversial decision and rules out that the constitutions primary intention is to limit the actions of the state rather than to interfere in the private issues of the public. The Court does this by viewing the Due Process clause as a limitation on the power of the state to act, and not giving a guarantee on the safety of the children who depend on the state to survive. The analysis of the Case helps readers to understand how, in legal reasoning, the issues that should be, are not always reflected. Curry outlines and showcases the details in the society which are ignored and neglected, details which cover both the civil and criminal proceedings, by retelling a shocking story. Curry draws on social work case files and legal briefs to look into how the state machinates law; by including individual stories of the most significant personalities including; police officers, family members, child advocates, social workers and opposing attorneys. Curry provides an analysis of the opinions of the majority in the Court and the reactions of the public towards the Court's opinions. When the state failed Joshua DeShaney, even after he depended on it for his protection, he failed to find any satisfaction in it. The DeShaney Case outline the roles that the state should play in our daily individual lives and offers a needed notion on the dilemmas posed to our legal system.
The Supreme Court ruling on the DeShaney held that failure of the state to protect the individual from the Private violence does not entail the violation of the Due Process Clause'. Failure by the state's child protection agency to avoid the almost death-causing abuse of a child who was four years old was not considered a violation under the child's fourteenth amendment rights. Joshua DeShaney was the child of Melody and Randy DeShaney. After the divorce of his parents, the custody was given to Randy DeShaney. During this Case, Joshua had been brutally injured and has a brain-damaged severely. Randy had beat up his son badly that he fell into a lie threatening coma, and traumatic injuries that he had received from long-time abuses. Joshua was receiving supervision from a social worker, who knew about the abuses but did nothing. Melody DeShaney filed a case against the child welfare agency, her argument being that the Winnebago department of social services denied his son of the 14th amendment of liberty without due process of law when they failed to protect him from his abusive parent, Randy. Despite the clear evidence of abuse, the Court established that because Joshua had been violated at home, and because his guardian had committed the abuse as a private actor, Joshua was in not a worse condition which he could have been before supervision by the social services. The state failed to remove a child from an adverse circumstance and were not held responsible for their failure of protection.
The DeShaney decision offers an in-depth discussion on the differences which exist within the private and the public spheres, framing issues in a way which misinterprets what happened. The little remorse for a young boy whose life is shattered is ignored, and the Case majorly focuses on details of the arbitrary delineation of the private and public affairs, and the formulation of inaction or action, that is just almost unproductive. Rehnquist did not accept to enhance the Due Process Clause and he burdened the public to convince the states to re-establish the laws of the state. He is aware of the problems which exist in the state system, but still places the weight of making changes in the child welfare to people other than the Supreme Court. Through refusal by the Court to make the child welfare agencies accountable for the failure of protection, the future of the children remains at the mercy of an ineffective and broken system. To prevent the federal courts from taking responsibility for child protection, Rehnquist chooses his interpretation carefully; with his concern being the federal government opting the power of the states to decide that their own laws are truthful. It is essential for the authority to decide and make laws on their own without being forced to defer major decisions to a centralized government that is not accountable for the people in as much as child welfare is important and children like Joshua need to be protected.
Although the Court had not meant to give a clue that there should be an abolishment of laws against abuse and neglect, it undermined the protection of the child in its systems. It places a child in a state of disempowerment, making liberty out of their reach. When the Court decides DeShaney, it loses sight of justice and the needs of communities, seeming like they are not in the best interest of their citizens. In the case of Joshua, the child welfare system failed to intervene in a case that had a warrantee of intervention. The Supreme Court drew an implication that the law considers the privacy of family matters to be vulnerable and that the society needs to consider circumstances like that of Joshua as collateral damage to giving privileges to family privacy and the autonomy of the state. State agencies are authorized to provide safety and look into issues related to family relationships so that there can be a provision of a safe family environment. When it comes to lawmaking, policymakers need not interpret the law in a way which affects the safety of the citizens adversely. The society fails to notice that whatever is good for the child is good for the parent and that the child welfare should take supportive measures to ensure that parenthood is at its best. Child protection services and welfare programs should not be viewed as luxuries because anyone that is guaranteed a fundamental right but cannot achieve it should be accorded what they require to exert that liberty.
The child welfare agencies are structured in both the reactive and proactive ways, a condition that requires them to perform complicated duties in addressing problems of the past and prevent those in the future, using contradictory tactics. In the case of Joshua in this book, the boy is actively injured by his father and the measures of therapy undertaken by the social worker do not ensure that he remains safe. The interventions by social workers are harmful for Joshua. As indicated by Justice Brennan, the harm that was administered by Joshua was caused by the action of the state but not the inaction of the state. The public agency did not encourage private aid, through the way in which they channelled all the reports of his abuse through the state agency; creating a structure of addressing criminals against children where it had to pass through child welfare agencies before going to the criminal system; this gave the family time to prepare to run away from facing the law. The agency is active in exposing Joshua to a dangerous situation by making him stay at his home, without healing the issue of violence. The social worker believes Randy and ignores the red flags, and is fooled by Randy's false promises of being a better parent. The Case is more tragic when we look into how the associations between a parent and a child are configured. The notion that a parent has the right to make vital decisions for their child makes the state to refrain from these obligations which the majority feel, and they cannot hinder nor supply. These are decisions which are private and have to be respected by the state. This has provided liberty for parents to parent as they wish, the same liberty that the parents of Joshua have. The Court constructs a right for the family to act as they want as a right to an exercise of liberty. While the DeShaney opinion does not cite particular relationship cases, its influence in the analysis of the place of the state interferes with a parent child relationship.
Understandably and eloquently, Curry illustrates to readers that, regardless of age, gender and marital status, the ultimate goal of the society should be to look into the welfare of children and their families, without upholding that the male should head the nuclear family. Melody had felt that she could not take care of her son as a poor mother and could not follow up on the conventional mothering script, making her be vilified unfairly. She abandoned her son and sent money to his father, thinking that he would have a better life. Despite giving up custody, Melody retained her parental rights. Fighting for her sons right, it broke Melody's heart to see Joshua not functioning well. While the federal states exist to offer protection to citizens from being abused directly by state actors, the state was faced with the question of whether children abused are entitled to enough protective services and the duties of agencies in preventing such tragedies. Another question is if the constitution guarantees the protection of individuals from private violence. Joshua's injuries are caused by his father, Randy and not directly by the social worker, meaning that the social worker has chances to prevent further harm but fails to do so that the boy could be saved. In legal terms, failing to prevent damages doe not lead to the same liability as causing damages directly. The chief justice, Rehnquist put more focus on the details presented by the relationship Joshua had with the state, and the issues presented of the inactions and actions of the social worker, to decide if the Case of Joshua and his right to liberty and life had been violated. Some particular custody arrangements are required to light up the substantive due process protections; direct custody is required so that affirmative duty can exist; direct hard is needed for affirmative action. In order to consider state actors legally responsible for third party violence, the Court will have to decide whether the state actor's relationship with the victims is special enough. A duty that breaches that promise has to be provided by the state. Otherwise, the sate will remain immune to any liabilities. The custodial relationship of Joshua with the state are not special enough to give him affirmative protection.
Rehnquist frames the state agencies actions to be inaction, removing Joshua's Case from his analysis. The Court is clinging to the false belief that a kid who is only four years old is a clear and free citizen, can find other sources of assistance if the state does not assist him, and is free to exercise his rights. The Court does not consider special dangers to pre-school children and young children, who are physically vulnerable to the abuse of the older kids and cannot communicate their problems due to isolation in the privacy of their parent's home. The agency cannot rebuke Joshua of getting into his father's abusive and dangerous home, through its policies, so it focuses it blames on the private actors to avoid having to take any responsibilities for their own incompetence.
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