Previous Chapter Chapter 21: Protecting Children Is More Important Than Preserving Families

Richard J. Gelles

In: Current Controversies on Family Violence

Chapter 21: Protecting Children Is More Important Than Preserving Families

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Protecting Children Is More Important Than Preserving Families
Protecting children is more important than preserving families
Richard J.Gelles

It is difficult to disagree with the way this controversy is phrased. Family preservation should be an important goal in child abuse and neglect intervention. Parents in the United States have constitutional rights and are afforded constitutional protection in the raising of their own children. U.S. law and tradition grant parents broad discretion in how they rear their children. In Smith v. Organization of Foster Families for Equality and Reform (1977), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the 14th Amendment gave parents a “constitutionally recognized liberty interest” in maintaining the custody of their children “that derives from blood relationship, state law sanction, and basic human right” (846). This interest ...

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