Springer Verlag (2018)

This book will challenge the orthodox view that children cannot have the same rights as adults because they are particularly vulnerable. It will argue that we should treat adults and children in the same way as the child liberationists claim. However, the basis of that claim is not that children are more competent than we traditionally given them credit for, but rather that adults are far less competent than we give them credit for. It is commonly assumed that children are more vulnerable. That is why we need to have a special legal regime for children. Children cannot have all the same rights as adults and need especial protect from harms. While in the 1970s “child liberationists” mounted a sustained challenge to this image, arguing that childhood was a form of slavery and that the assumption that children lacked capacity was unsustainable. This movement has significantly fallen out of favour, particularly given increasing awareness of child abuse and the multiple ways that children can be harmed at the hands of adults. This book will explore the concept of vulnerability, the way it used to undermine the interests of children and our assumptions that adults are not vulnerable in the same way that children are. It will argue that a law based around mutual vulnerability can provide an approach which avoids the need to distinguish adults and children.
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ISBN(s) 978-3-319-78685-8   978-3-319-78686-5   3319786857   9783319786858
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-78686-5
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Chapters BETA
Vulnerability Is Good

This final chapter will argue that the common perception that vulnerability is an undesirable and stigmatic characteristic is misguided. Rather we should rejoice in our universal vulnerability. It requires us to reach out to others and work together to find mutual solutions to our common challenges.... see more

Childhood, Adulthood and the Law

This chapter will explore the consequence of accepting that adults are as vulnerable as children. It will argue this requires a rethinking of the nature of legal rights and responsibilities. The law needs to promote values of relationships and mutuality, rather than individualism and autonomy. It wi... see more

Are Children More Vulnerable Than Adults?

Chapter 4 will challenge the assumption that children are more vulnerable than adults. It will explore the arguments in favour of universal vulnerability and argue that everyone has impaired capacity, is dependent on others, and has frail bodies. The argument will be made that childhood is a social ... see more

Children and Vulnerability

This chapter considers the ways in which children are perceived to be vulnerable. It is argued that this perception creates real harm for children. It encourages overly-paternalistic interventions in the lives of children; it means that children are not listened to properly; and that children’s libe... see more

What is Vulnerability?

This chapter explores the concept of vulnerability. The special legal position of children is commonly justified by vague references to them being particularly vulnerable. This chapter will examine the different facets of vulnerability. In particular, it will highlight the objective and subjective a... see more


This chapter sets out some of the key arguments of the book. It does this by explaining the concept of childhood and how the law interacts with children. It also explore how the law uses age in a range of situations to determine what rights children do or do not have under the law. The chapter also ... see more

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