Defining Maltreatment and Permitting Startlingly Broad State Intervention

As discussed in previous chapters, the state reserves for itself the power to intervene in children's abusive relationships and circumstances. One of the most significant aspects of this power includes the mandate to define the contours of maltreatment. As expected, defining what constitutes child maltreatment obviously plays an important role in addressing it. Definitions set the threshold for gaining state jurisdiction, which then guides the state's intervention. The significance of this mandate, however, has not produced an easy consensus about what constitutes the types of maltreatment worthy of state intervention. A look at definitions reveals that they are notable for the diverse forms of circumstances and events they regard as maltreating, the different ways legal systems approach similar forms of maltreatment, and the pervasive lack of guidance they provide those who rely on them to intervene in children's lives. As important as they are, existing definitions reveal a myriad...


Sexual Abuse Child Maltreatment Legal System Child Welfare Criminal Justice System 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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