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'Families in All Their Subversive Variety': Over-Representation, the Ethnic Child Protection Penalty, and Responding to Diversity Whilst Protecting Children

(2014) 63 Studies in Law, Politics, and Society 43-87

54 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2012 Last revised: 28 Feb 2015

Lucinda Ferguson

University of Oxford, Faculty of Law

Date Written: February 1, 2012

Abstract

This article explores the neglected issue of the over-representation in the child protection system of children from ethnic, cultural, religious, racial, and linguistic minorities. It focuses on the accommodation of children’s diverse backgrounds within the s31(2) threshold and s1 “best interests” stages of intervention under the Children Act 1989. Firstly, it introduces the ethnic child protection penalty as a new tool for capturing the complex nature of over-representation of these children. Secondly, it proposes a framework for understanding the judicial approach in higher court decisions on the current extent and nature of accommodation. Thirdly, it employs the penalty concept to help explain why case law analysis reveals difficulties with the current factor-based approach, whereas empirical research suggests generally satisfactory accommodation in practice. It concludes by proposing a contextualised framework for decision-making in relation to child protection.

Keywords: Child protection, s31(2) Children Act 1989 threshold, s1 Children Act 1989 'best interests', culture, diversity, ethnic minorities, ethnic penalties, contextualised subjects

Suggested Citation

Ferguson, Lucinda, 'Families in All Their Subversive Variety': Over-Representation, the Ethnic Child Protection Penalty, and Responding to Diversity Whilst Protecting Children (February 1, 2012). (2014) 63 Studies in Law, Politics, and Society 43-87 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2191074

Lucinda Ferguson (Contact Author)

University of Oxford, Faculty of Law ( email )

St. Cross Building
St. Cross Road
Oxford, OX1 3UJ
United Kingdom

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