Children, Social Science, and the Law

This important book broadens our conceptualization of the topic of children and law, addressing a wide-ranging set of issues in need of attention. The authors confront many difficult questions such as: Are the rights that our nation’s laws ascribe to children commensurate with their capabilities and needs? How should laws governing the punishment of crime acknowledge developmental differences between adult and juvenile offenders? Throughout the book, the authors consider (a) current laws and policies relating to children; (b) how social science research can test assumptions behind child-relevant laws and policies; (c) ways that courts can become more receptive to social science recommendations; and (d) challenges faced in the 21st century as our society continues its struggle to accommodate children’s concerns within our legal system. With its unique integration of psychological research, social policy, and legal analysis, the volume is an important resource for any professional concerned with children and the law.

• Unique integration of psychological research, social policy, and legal analysis • First book to define the topic of children and law in so novel and broad a manner • Multi-disciplinary contributors include social scientists, attorneys, and policy-makers


1. Children, law, social science, and policy: an introduction to the issues Bette L. Bottoms, Margaret Bull Kovera and Bradley D. McAuliff; Part I. Children’s Rights, Their Capabilities, and Society’s Responsibilities to Children: 2. The personal responsibility and work opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996: what will it mean for children? Brian Wilcox, Rebecca A. Colman and Jennifer M. Wyatt; 3. Advocacy for children’s rights Mark Small and Susan P. Limber; 4. Children’s rights and their capacities Melinda Schmidt and N. Dickon Reppucci; 5. Children’s legal representation in civil litigation Ann M. Haralambie, Ann Nicholson Haralambie and Kari L. Nysse; Part II. Children and Family Change: 6. Termination of parental rights to free children for adoption: conflicts between parents, children, and the state Jeffrey Haugaard and Rosemary J. Avery; 7. Child custody at the crossroads: issues for a new century Charlene E. Depner; 8. Children of lesbian and gay parents: research, law, and policy Charlotte J. Patterson, Megan Fulcher and Jennifer Wainwright; Part III. Juvenile Aggression and Juvenile Justice: 9. Juvenile transfer to adult court: how can developmental and child psychology inform policy decision making? Randall T. Salekin; 10. Youth violence: correlates, interventions and legal implications Carrie S. Fried and N. Dickon Reppucci; 11. Capacity, competence, and the juvenile defendant: implications for research and policy Jennifer Woolard; Part IV. Children as Victims and Witnesses: 12. The effects of community violence on children and adolescents: intervention and social policy Steve L. Berman, Wendy K. Silverman and William Kurtines; 13. Preventing child abuse and neglect Mia McFarlane and Murray Levine; 14. Children’s eyewitness memory: true disclosures and false reports Jennifer M. Schaaf, Kristen Weede Alexander, Gail S. Goodman, Simona Ghetti and Robin Edelstein; 15. Expert testimony on the suggestibility of children: does it fit? Thomas D. Lyon; 16. The status of evidentiary and procedural innovations in Child Abuse Proceedings Bradley D. McAuliff and Margaret Bull Kovera; Part V. Conclusions and Future Decisions: 17. Starting a new generation of research Gary Melton; 18. What will it take to bring child-focused law, policy, and research into the 21st century? Concluding thoughts Howard Davidson.


‘This is one of the most comprehensive child policy books I’ve seen. It is a book I will use in my work, and one I think would be useful to students in a wide variety of fields.’ Nancy Walker, Yale University

‘… a stimulating overview of current American practice with an exciting emphasis on the impact of community experience and community based interventions.’ British Journal of Sociology