Abuse, Neglect, and the State
Parents have considerable latitude in the way they treat their children but are not free to abuse the children or to neglect them. But what should count as abuse or neglect, and what should determine the ways in which the state intervenes when it occurs? This chapter offers a way to understand negligence on a single occasion on the model of Learned Hand's formula for negligence in tort law. It also offers a way to determine what counts as neglect over longer periods of time, and what should constitute abusing a child. All three accounts are sensitive to the several distinct purposes we might have for intervening on a child's behalf, and all three emphasize seeing the behavior in terms of what it reveals about the parent.
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