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DRAFT - The Children Act

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Telgan Alpha
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DRAFT - The Children Act

Postby Telgan Alpha » Sun Nov 21, 2021 2:20 pm

Understanding that children require care, guidance, and protection as they grow and develop.

Disappointed, therefore, that the rights of children have seen relatively insufficient protection from this body compared to other protected groups (despite the laudable advances delivered by GA#4 "Restrictions on Child Labor," GA#222 "Prevention of Child Abuse" and GA#297 "Child Welfare in Adoption" in these regards).

Convinced that an international and universal standard of parental rights and responsibilities in defence of child welfare must be enacted.

Hoping that the aforementioned standard - as well as measures to establish child welfare services and a Children's Court in times of absolute necessity - will provide a solid foundation for the welfare of children everywhere.

The World Assembly hereby enacts as follows.

  1. In this resolution, a "parent" refers to a parent, carer, or guardian of a child.
  2. All parents of children in member states must show due regard to their rights and responsibilities as such. In particular, they must:

    1. ensure that the physical, emotional, psychological, and educational needs of those children are met,
    2. direct the medical treatment of those children until they are deemed to be mature enough to give informed consent,
    3. ensure appropriate contact and relationship with those children, and
    4. dispense appropriate guidance and control over the welfare of those children.

  3. Member states must establish child welfare services, which shall be required to:

    1. intervene where they have a reasonable belief that parents have failed to discharge their duties under Section 2,
    2. robustly assess children and their immediate family members where those children are affected by a Section 3A intervention,
    3. seek to work with such children and their parent(s) voluntarily (subject to Section 5B) and with as little restrictive intervention as possible, while also taking into account the expressed views of those children (with due regard to their maturity) when making decisions,
    4. protect and support the development (including the care, guidance, and protection) of all children, whether or not they are affected by a Section 3A intervention, and
    5. ensure that their employees are qualified to discharge their duties, including by requiring them to adhere to an ethical code of conduct.

  4. Member states are urged to establish a Children's Court. All cases heard in Children's Courts shall be decided upon by a representative volunteer-citizen jury and guided by a legally-trained chair, and must also be appealable to a higher court.

  5. All Children's Courts established pursuant to Section 4 must:

    1. provide for the full representation of all children that stand before it; in particular, they must allow that child to express their views and have them considered when decisions are made (with due regard to their maturity), and to request and use the services of a lawyer at no cost to them or their parent(s),
    2. be authorised to require that parents of children co-operate with those welfare services described in Section 3, and
    3. only remove any of a parent's rights with respect to any of their children if:

      1. it can be shown that the continued exercise of the targeted rights by that parent would, in all likelihood, cause significant harm to their children,
      2. all voluntary and less restrictive means of harm reduction have been exhausted, and
      3. the children and their parent(s) are informed about the rights that have been removed and the duration of their removal.

Has been co-authored by the very kind and helpful: Tinhampton .

Category: moral decency, significant.

Edited changes as per feedback:
1. Volunteer jury.
Last edited by Telgan Alpha on Sun Nov 21, 2021 5:16 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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Utquiagvik
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Postby Utquiagvik » Sun Nov 21, 2021 2:25 pm

I think it is a good bill which is needed in society. We need to treat our society's children with the care they need.
Last edited by Utquiagvik on Sun Nov 21, 2021 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Bananaistan
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Postby Bananaistan » Sun Nov 21, 2021 3:37 pm

"Requiring juries is generally poor policy and doubly so in the especially emotional cases likely to arise in these courts. Far better to have the whole thing decided by trained professionals rather than the typical eejit who knows jackshit about anything that makes up juries - anyone you'd want on a jury usually has the wherewithal to escape from jury duty.

"Section 5C is also bad policy. I can well imagine the legal wrangling which could go on to decide the line between harm and significant harm, and the potential for continued abuse of children while the state has to wait to see if nicely asking the delinquent parent(s) to desist works before removing at risk children further to section 3C(ii).

"Also, section 4 does not require the establishment of this court but requirement in 3C refers to the court's duties makes it effectively required."
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Telgan Alpha
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Postby Telgan Alpha » Sun Nov 21, 2021 4:25 pm

In regards to "juries who know jack" as a bad policy is a very assumptive conclusion to make. I suppose a rationale is required to have decision making within a small 'jury' setting is required.

1. The theatre of total legal processes on display will NOT create what exactly is needed - a child-centred focus. It will create what is known as silent children syndrome which does not then by definition protect, and safeguard children who - at the centre of the court - are enabled to voice their views and wishes.

2. The cornerstone of having a jury is to ensure that parental rights and responsibilities (R and Rs) are judged from what a reasonable person would judge as administering these R and Rs. The court system is designed within the civil court systems and as such has an explicit mandate within the legal proof of likelihood. A judge chairing and having full powers once a decision is rendered is fine in criminal cases, but the document does NOT seek to criminalise but act as a welfare body for and on behalf of the child. The legally trained chair is to ensure legal and ethical processes are followed. Seems a fair and sensible and protective layer to me.

3. However, that said, I am fully seized of the wording needs to be changed to 'volunteer" jury as opposed to normal run jury "duty"

In regards to section 3c, it guides in what is expected from welfare services as being fully congruent within the administration of their duties and therefore aligns with how the court would render decisions and under such principles, this is intended and envisioned.

In regards to 5C as being too nice - it is not - there are inbuilt protections in regards to 5B. 5C is only enacted and can only be enacted when there is robust assessment - and as the administration of welfare services must intervene and assess, it would be envisioned that an emergency hearing would be called in such an event if danger to the child is assessed as urgent: the document I believe clearly spells out the NEED to act when faced with the risk of harm and significant harm. The removal of R and Rs and any state intervention to remove rights MUST be guided within the least restrictive principle as mandated within the document itself. We could easily envision a child being removed from a home setting with parents still retaining R and Rs also, quick example is criminal charges of a severe nature. Again this is further safeguarded by a.3(c) as defined as welfare services "seeking" to work on a voluntary basis if "possible". In cases of significant risk, this becomes almost impossible.

In addition to 5c and legal wrangling: the court would work on high civil proof and NOT beyond a reasonable doubt, but as spelt out based on likelihood. This has again been done by design to avoid such an event.


I hope this has offered some reassurance.
Last edited by Telgan Alpha on Sun Nov 21, 2021 6:03 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Xanthorrhoea
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Postby Xanthorrhoea » Sun Nov 21, 2021 11:02 pm

Might I suggest that section 2 has some requirement to act in the child/children’s best interest and developmental needs, and also impose a limit on such duties once children reach the age of majority? I don’t want to be forced by law to look out for my 40 year old child’s emotional needs.

I’d also agree about the jury point raised by Bananaistan. A judge who is experienced in family law is going to be much better placed to decide a case than a jury of volunteers. ‘Reasonable person’ is a specific term in law that a judge is going to have a far better understanding of than a jury, and assuming that the people on a jury will always be ‘reasonable’ is risky. Juries are anything but reasonable, a fact well known and exploited by all lawyers. Judges are far more consistent and reliable, which is something you want in family law. If it was my kid on the line, I’d rather know who it was I had to convince, rather than a set of randoms who all have their own biases and agendas.

I don’t think the volunteer option is much help either. You’ll just end up with a group of people with a vested interest in being there. The point of jury duty is that it’s random. Volunteers is a guaranteed way to have biased people.

Regarding 5C, with respect, the problem with 5C is that it requires harm to be caused ‘in all likelihood’. This is too strict a definition, as in emergency cases, there may not be enough evidence to establish this. This should be changed to a looser ‘significant likelihood’ standard. I do not want kids to be with their parents if there’s a 49% chance of them being harmed, just the same as I don’t want cosmetic surgery if there’s a 49% chance of death. Some cases, child welfare being one of them, require a lower threshold of harm before you act.’In all likelihood’ is far too restrictive, and will result in harm to children.

Edit: Regarding point 1: I feel like having a large group of people staring at a child (aka a jury) is only going to intimidate them further than a single judge. I fail to see how a jury is better for silent children than a judge.

Re: point 2, as far as I am aware (in my IRL country at least), judge-run courts are far more common in civil courts than juries, for precisely the reasons I dated above about consistency/bias etc. In my view, a jury brings family court closer to the criminal system than the civil, as opposed to the other way around.
Last edited by Xanthorrhoea on Mon Nov 22, 2021 12:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Tinhampton
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Postby Tinhampton » Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:42 am

Hiya there. Co-author here.

Xanthorrhoea wrote:Might I suggest that section 2 has some requirement to act in the child/children’s best interest and developmental needs, and also impose a limit on such duties once children reach the age of majority? I don’t want to be forced by law to look out for my 40 year old child’s emotional needs.

Not sure about Telgan Alpha but I'd definitely be open to such an addition to Article 2. The age of majority ceiling was implicit but I feel it should most certainly be made clearer.

Xanthorrhoea wrote:Regarding 5C, with respect, the problem with 5C is that it requires harm to be caused ‘in all likelihood’. This is too strict a definition, as in emergency cases, there may not be enough evidence to establish this. This should be changed to a looser ‘significant likelihood’ standard. [...]

TA and I anticipated that the standard of Article 5C(i) would be a halfway house between "on the balance of probabilities" and "beyond reasonable doubt." Hopefully I can agree with TA on better wording, but I'd suspect for now that "significant likelihood" would be pretty neat.

Xanthorrhoea wrote:I don’t think the volunteer option is much help either.

Our final consensus pre-forum draft referred to a "representative citizen jury." TA changed this to "representative volunteer-citizen jury" as per the above; I would agree that this is a bad idea. While it was TA, not I, who was pushing for the retention of the Children's Court mechanism in the redraft, I very much anticipated it working like a normal court, to the point that I initially proposed that the relevant section only made reference to "a court". However, I am personally neutral on whether a judge or a jury decides CC cases - and if anything I believe that the mechanism ought to be left unstated, given the diversity of legal systems across the WA. Not that my author will necessarily agree mind :P
Last edited by Tinhampton on Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Disembodied Voice
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Postby Disembodied Voice » Mon Nov 22, 2021 2:00 am

A voice seemingly coming out of nowhere whispers behind the author's left ear: "The child courts being voluntary for nations to set up, can all the details of the courts listed in clause five be assumed to also apply to regular courts, albeit likely with greater efficiency given they would already have been making such decisions? Though I do note a flaw in 5.a. in that the child must think to or understand to ask for a lawyer. Many children would likely not understand the signifigance of having one, so that should be made a requirement for the case to be heard in a court in general. There may even be a prior resolution requiring such. In this particular case the lawyer should also likely be one who knows the subject matter well enough to be of actual help."
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Separatist Peoples
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Postby Separatist Peoples » Mon Nov 22, 2021 7:26 am

Ambassador bell shuffles uo to the main poduim, wearing a set of dark sunglasses and carrying a large bottle of SportzDrank.

"We ag-oh shit" the ambassador visibly winces at the volume coming from the speakers, and waves the tech to turn it down.

"Sweet Baldur's nutsack, that was loud," Bell all but whispers into the microphone. "The C.D.S.P. agrees with the concerns regarding juries. Expert judges are better placed to apply objective law than to be distracted by emotive performance. We will oppose any attempt to force juries into such cases as a rule."

The suffering ambassador takes a sip of his Melonaid-flavorrd SportzDrank, takes a precarious swallow, and retreats to his desk, where he slumps deeply into his chair.

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Bestelesnia
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Father Knows Best State

Postby Bestelesnia » Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:51 pm

Greetings, the Bestelesnian delgation to the WA has some comments about this proposal:
Firstly, you define "parent" as a parent, carer or guardian, wich is not really a definition, more like some synonyms. Also, it would be a good idea to define what you understand as a child.
Second, about the courts: there are some nations (as ours) that have eliminated the use of juries, so there would be a problem to installing the courts you mention. We recommend something in the likes of "the formation of judicial institutions in each nation specialized in dealing with violations to child's rights" (although, in that line, its more common establishing familiy courts that also deal with this issues).
2.c is very broad and subjective, what is an appropiate relationship depends on the parents mostly and how they educate their children.
3.d could be used to take kids away from their parents for any reason, as in "we have to protect them so we take them away". Very easy to abuse it.
5.c.i what exactly is "significant harm"? Because one could argue that, just because some parents demand a lot from their children in terms of, say, school grades, it could be said that they are causing "significant psychological damage", since you consider the testimony of kids (wich is extremely not recommended for a lot of reasons like: kids are easy to manipulate, they are not fully mentally developed, so judgement and memory is not something they have a lot of, they are legally dependanr of their parents, giving them voice would mean they are a separate legal entity that can talk for themselves (autonomy) wich would mean that they are responsible for themselves, aka, they can commit a crime and go to jail for it).

With nothing more to say,
We thank you for your efforts.
Bestelesnian Delegation to the WA

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Tinhampton
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Postby Tinhampton » Mon Nov 22, 2021 5:32 pm

Bestelesnia wrote:3.d could be used to take kids away from their parents for any reason

No, it doesn't.

Expect a new draft up tomorrow or thereabouts.
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Telgan Alpha
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Left-wing Utopia

New draft based on feedback

Postby Telgan Alpha » Tue Nov 23, 2021 7:43 am

Understanding that children require care, guidance, and protection as they grow and develop.

Disappointed, therefore, that the rights of children have seen relatively insufficient protection from this body compared to other protected groups (despite the laudable advances delivered by GA#4 "Restrictions on Child Labor," GA#222 "Prevention of Child Abuse" and GA#297 "Child Welfare in Adoption" in these regards).

Convinced that an international and universal standard of parental rights and responsibilities in defence of child welfare must be enacted.

Hoping that the aforementioned standard - as well as measures to establish child welfare services and a children's arbitration body in times of absolute necessity - will provide a solid foundation for the welfare of children everywhere.

The World Assembly hereby enacts as follows.

  1. In this resolution:
    1. a "child" is any person under the age of majority, and
    2. a "parent" is any person who currently looks after any child as a consequence of birth, adoption, or court order, and exercises their rights and responsibilities under Section 2 in regards to that child.
  2. All parents of children in member states must show due regard to their rights and responsibilities as parents. In particular, they must:
    1. ensure that the physical, emotional, psychological, and educational needs of those children are met,
    2. direct the medical treatment of those children until they are deemed to be mature enough to give informed consent,
    3. ensure appropriate contact and relationship with those children, and
    4. dispense appropriate guidance and control, otherwise, over the welfare of those children, guided to be in their best interest.
  3. Member states must establish child welfare services, which shall:
    1. intervene where they have a reasonable belief that parents have failed to discharge their Section 2 duties
    2. transfer a child to a safe location where they can prove significant likelihood that the failure of that child's parent(s) to discharge their Section 2 duties poses a significant risk to that child's life or development,
    3. never take any child away from their parents except in the course of a Section 3B transfer,
    4. robustly assess children and their immediate family members where those children are affected by a Section 3A intervention or Section 3B transfer,
    5. seek to work with such children and their parent(s) voluntarily (subject to Section 4E) and with as little restrictive intervention as possible, while also taking into account the expressed views of those children (with due regard to their maturity) when making decisions,
    6. protect and support the development (including the care, guidance, and protection) of all children, whether or not they are affected by a Section 3A intervention, and
    7. ensure that their employees are qualified to discharge their duties, including by requiring them to adhere to an ethical code of conduct.
  4. Member states are urged to establish a children's arbitration body (CAB). All CABs:
    1. shall have all of their cases overseen by a lay panel of three representative members and guided by a judge,
    2. must ensure the full representation of that child; in particular, they must:
      1. involve the child in the decision-making process with due regard to their age and maturity,
      2. allow that child to express their views and have them considered when decisions are made (with due regard to their maturity) unless excused to protect their psychological welfare or due to their inability to understand and,
      3. allow that child to request and use the services of a lawyer or advocate at no cost to them or their parent(s),
    3. shall only adopt rulings with majority agreement,
    4. must ensure that, when making rulings, they do so as swiftly as possible and while taking the best interests of the child into account
    5. may require parents to co-operate with those child welfare services defined in
      Section 3, and such services to use all resources at their disposal to serve the best interests of the child,
    6. shall permit the appeal of its rulings to a higher court, and
    7. may only remove any of a parent's rights with respect to any of their children if:
      1. it can be shown that the continued exercise of the targeted rights by that parent would beyond reasonable doubt cause significant harm to their children,
      2. all voluntary and less restrictive means of harm reduction have been exhausted, and
      3. the children and their parent(s) are informed about the rights that have been removed and the duration of their removal.
  5. All individuals employed in child welfare services (pursuant to Section 3) or who sit on a CAB must adhere to an ethical code of conduct while in such employment, and must receive training about issues of child welfare and development throughout their employment.
Last edited by Telgan Alpha on Tue Nov 23, 2021 8:57 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Xanthorrhoea
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Postby Xanthorrhoea » Tue Nov 23, 2021 8:39 am

I can see you’ve put a lot of thought into closing loopholes and areas of confusion. I think this is a definite improvement on the previous draft. A few nitpicks:

I’m a bit confused about the definition of a ‘parent’ in 1b. The definition relies on caregivers exercising their rights/duties under section 2, but section 2 requires all parents to show due regard to those rights and responsibilities: it’s a circular definition. If parents don’t exercise their right/duties, then they (by definition) aren’t parents, and therefore don’t have to.

I’m also concerned that 1b’s definition might include temporary caregivers such as babysitters etc, which is not ideal. Might I suggest defining parents as either a child’s legal guardian/s or their primary caregiver/s? I feel this would avoid confusion, and place legal responsibility on those who are most responsible for the child.

Section 3e refers to section ‘4X’. I assume a typo and you meant 4G?

Section 4 is optional, so I’m fine with it, even if I personally disagree with the way it’s done.

Section 5C: the ‘ethical code of conduct’ is a good idea, but maybe a bit vague? I’m not sure how specific you should/need to be in a WA resolution for that kind of definition, I’ll let others weigh in.

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Separatist Peoples
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Separatist Peoples » Tue Nov 23, 2021 9:50 am

"Lay panelists are juries by another name. Opposed."

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Telgan Alpha
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Left-wing Utopia

Postby Telgan Alpha » Tue Nov 23, 2021 3:23 pm

Another re-write due. Although IRL I am in favour, I will take on the overwhelming feedback and change with specialist measures in place.

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Imperium Anglorum
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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Sat Nov 27, 2021 12:23 am

Elsie. Juries are bad and unrepresentative of the people. A sensible pro-democratic decision making process must be ad populum or before a duly elected magistrate with power to command fellow citizens. Anything else is tyrannical and we will oppose it.

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