Family Law pp 243-262 | Cite as

Failure of Parental Duties and Public Responsibility — Children in the Care of Public Authorities

  • Olive M. Stone


When parents, guardians, or other relatives are unable or unwilling to discharge normal parental duties, two problems arise. The less important is the kind of sanctions that may be imposed on those who fail in their duty. They are few and for the most part ineffective. The important question is how best to deal with the children. The general solution to this major problem is by a system of public care, but the phrase covers a considerable area of family law that, until recently, had received inadequate systematic study, certainly by lawyers. This is no longer true,1 but as often happens when an area is studied intensively, one of the first discoveries is how little is known. The records of successful public care of children are so meagre that the policies to be pursued are acutely controversial. Realisation of the social cost of adult recidivists has coincided with increasing knowledge of children’s psychological development. Old attitudes are being discarded and new approaches attempted, but there are many pitfalls. As a result it is probably true to say that the law regarding children in public care is at present of all English family law the most disordered.


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  1. 1.
    The standard reference book is Clarke Hall and Morrison: The Law Relating to Children and Young Persons. H. K. Bevan’s: The Law Relating to Children (1973) is easier reading, and like Clarke Hall and Morrison, its main emphasis is on children and public authorities.Google Scholar
  2. See also Mrs W. Cavenagh’s Juvenile Courts, The Child and the Law (1967).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    In operation from 1 January 1971. See Jose Harris 33 MLR (1970) 530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Olive M. Stone 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olive M. Stone
    • 1
  1. 1.London School of Economics and Political ScienceUniversity of LondonUK

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