LAWS3392/JURD7492 Children and the Law

Lecturers: Ananda Hall and Karen Shea

What is the course about?

This subject introduces you to a range of ways in which the law affects the lives of children and families, including:

  • the role of law in the lives of children and families;
  • constructions of childhood;
  • child development;
  • theories of children’s rights;
  • care and protection;
  • juvenile justice;
  • the voice of the child and representation of children in court proceedings;
  • domestic and inter-country adoption;
  • consent to medical treatment; and
  • international child abduction.

Why does this subject interest you?

The way in which the legal system ‘deals with’ children is fascinating, and has changed considerably over time alongside social constructions of the concept of ‘childhood’. In the first part of this course, we take a range of historical, philosophical and socio-legal approaches to consider the way in which children are controlled and protected by the legal system, encouraging students to reflect critically on the way in which our current laws regulate aspects of the lives of children and their families. The course then covers a range of practical areas which are important for those wishing to specialise in children’s law, particularly child protection, representing the voice of the child, medical treatment, and international child abduction. As practising children’s lawyers, we see these as key practice areas, and hope this course will inspire students to consider a career in these areas. Throughout the course we invite guest speakers from a range of interesting legal fields working with children and young people.

Any advice to give for students interested in taking this course?

This course will be enjoyable and accessible to anyone, but particularly those interested in the social aspects of the law and issues of social justice. The course provides an interesting overview of a range of perspectives and disciplines beyond traditional black-letter law, but remains practical enough to equip graduates with an understanding of the key practice areas. Classes are interactive, thought-provoking and often involve debates on topical and controversial issues. Students are expected to pre-read, which makes lively class discussions possible.

How will this course be relevant say a year after graduating?

This course will provide you with an understanding of a range of topics that form the general grounding for many areas of practice, but particularly for those interested in pursuing a career in family law, child protection, human rights, or youth advocacy.