Constitutional Rights of Parents and Children in Child Protective and Juvenile Delinquency Investigations
15 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2011 Last revised: 6 Jun 2012
Date Written: September 28, 2011
This report addresses the balance between the authority of the child protective system to investigate allegations of child abuse and the constitutional rights of parents and children to family privacy and autonomy. It also discusses rights of parents and children in the juvenile delinquency context, where the child is a suspected perpetrator of a crime rather than a victim. In the principal case discussed, Camreta v. Greene, the Supreme Court was asked to decide whether, absent exigent circumstances, the 4th Amendment prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures is violated when a child protective services investigator accompanied by a police officer interviews a suspected child victim at school, without first obtaining a judicial warrant or parental permission. While it remains to be seen whether the Court will reach the merits of the case, the oral arguments and outpouring of friend of the court briefs illustrate the difficulty of balancing values of child protection, public safety and family autonomy. Note: In an opinion issued on March 26, 2011, the Court dismissed the Camreta case as moot leaving the controversial 4th Amendment issues unresolved.
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