Children have constitutional, civil and human rights, and
have been recognized (for the last 36 years) as legal persons. Yet
increasingly, youngsters find themselves in courts in America where legal
determinations are made which directly affect their liberty, custody, family
membership, education, and health. Children are involved in legal proceedings
involving adoption, school expulsion, asylum, gang activities, speech,
disability benefits, labor, mental health, trafficking and domestic violence,
as well as delinquency and crime. The criminalization of youth behavior and the
transformation of the landscape inhabited by children (schools, family,
neighborhoods, work) results in expanded nets of law enforcement, punishment,
incarceration, probation, rules and scrutiny. Troubled kids, troubling kids,
different kids, bad girls, gangstas, inner-city kids, kids of color, immigrant
kids -- for many, delinquency trumps. In this course, we will examine the
changing constructions of childhood reflected in the law, using the casebook by
Barry Feld, Administration of Juvenile Justice, with bound supplemental
materials from literature, the arts, and social sciences. The class will
analyze critical constitutional rights case law, case studies, and potential
legal remedies through the contending themes of children's rights, children's
participation, child protection, social control and punishment.