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Parens patriae translates from the Latin as “father of the people” and is the legal principle that allows the state to intercede on behalf of juveniles, those who are mentally ill, and others who are unable to protect themselves. The parens patriae doctrine was first enunciated in English common law and referred to the king as exercising protective functions in his role as “father of the country.” The parens patriae doctrine should not be confused with the in loco parentis doctrine, which is more temporary in nature and not limited to governmental entities. It should also be noted that in the United States parens patriae power is a state government's exercise of power and not one that can be exercised by the federal government. The ...

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