Fate of the Child Legal Decisions
Children's rights are now enshrined in the South African constitution, and lip service is regularly paid to them, but how effectively are they implemented? From research undertaken by the Centre for Socio-Legal Research over the last twenty years, the question has increasingly arisen of how much use such rights are on paper if the systems charged with ensuring their implementation are inadequate for the task. Possibly even more important, it has become evident that it is not enough to make 'the best interests of the child' the touch-stone for legal and welfare decisions on children, if the individuals charged with those decisions have little training -- or ready access to expertise -- in child development or the realities of a fast-changing country of many cultures. Decisions that radically affect children's futures -- whether custody decisions on divorce, fostering, children's home, adoption placements, or juvenile court decisions -- have life-long consequences. But there is also little hard evidence of what is influencing such decisions in practice, nor how decision-making for South African children can be improved. This book is the result of an attempt to remedy some of these gaps. It presents the evidence from an interdisciplinary collaborative project set up to research how legal decisions on children are being made in the new South Africa, and how children's rights are faring in practice in a variety of relevant settings.