Developmental Neuroscience, Children’s Relationships with Primary Caregivers, and Child Protection Policy Reform

Hastings Law Journal: Part I of this Article address the state’s relationship with children and families, and the law’s recognition of the centrality of children’s primary caregivers typically their parents to children’s well-being.

Part II critiques certain aspects of our legal system’s predominant response to child maltreatment.

Part III reviews recent research on the effects of child maltreatment, with special attention to developmental neurobiological findings.

Part IV addresses some implications of these findings for child protection policy and sets forth recommendations that are consistent with the empirical research and responsive to the critiques set forth in Part II.

The heavy toll exacted by child maltreatment extends far beyond the individuals who are the direct victims of maltreatment. It is borne by the entire society, “reverberating across relationships, generations, and communities.” If policymakers make the right investments, the combined wisdom gleaned from the efforts of multiple scientific disciplines can pave the pathways to the development of effective preventive and intervention strategies that decrease the risks faced by children and promote children’s resilience in coping with those risks that remain. Link to pdf Law Journal Article

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