Judicial Decision Making in Child Sexual Abuse Cases
208 pages, 6 x 9
6 b&w illustrations, 15 tables
Release Date:01 Jan 2008
Release Date:15 Apr 2007
Release Date:01 Jan 2008

Judicial Decision Making in Child Sexual Abuse Cases

UBC Press

In the 1980s, Canada witnessed a public outcry over child sexual abuse cases that were being reported in the media. Elected officials sought a remedy not through policy changes or other social mechanisms but rather through legal reforms. Amendments were made to the Criminal Code of Canada and sexual assault was redefined. The word “rape” was replaced with a continuum of sexual assault categories intended to reflect the full range of sexually intrusive behaviours. Most women’s groups, having fought for recognition of harm done to women and children, supported this legislation, though some questioned the approach

Margaret Wright examines how the courts have dealt with child sexual abuse cases since then and what effect the “resort to law” has had. Analyzing the sentencing phase of these cases, she demonstrates that although the laws may have changed, their interpretation still depends on the social construction of children at the court level and on judges’ own understanding of what constitutes child sexual abuse. Judicial Decision Making in Child Sexual Abuse Cases is a rich and detailed study of the court process that will be welcomed by students and scholars of law and society, social work, criminal justice, and social policy

RELATED TOPICS: Criminology, Law, Social Work
…this thoughtful and frequently insightful book demonstrates that, despite widespread public interest and the changes in law it has engendered, a fundamental right of children not to be sexually victimized by adults is not in fact widely recognized by the Canadian courts. Donalee Moulton, Lawyer's Weekly
This is a rich research study of the arguments that trial and appeal court judges use in sentencing … It examines a variety of situations and people rarely encountered in the research literature, and successfully argues that sentences are still less affected by changes in laws than by judges’ values and interpretations of these laws. Marge Reitsma-Street, Professor, Studies in Policy and Practice, University of Victoria
Wright, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work and Family Studies at the University of British Columbia, argues convincingly that the 1988 revisions to the CRIMINAL CODE OF CANADA have failed to provide justice for the child victims of sexual abuse. Lynne Curry, Law & Politics Book Review, Vol. 18, No. 1
Judicial Decision Making in Child Sexual Abuse Cases provides a useful general overview of the state of sentencing in cases of child sexual abuse. The book is a thought-provoking challenge to traditional practices […]. It is a worthwhile read for practitioners and academics in the area of criminal law, and may be of particular interest to members of the judiciary. In addition, it is relevant to anyone interested in the impact of the legal process on the social problems of children and victims in general. Laura Mazenc, Saskatchewan Law Review, Vol.71, 2008
Margaret M. Wright teaches in the School of Social Work and Family Studies at the University of British Columbia.

Figures and Tables; Acknowledgments; Introduction

1 Recent Events

2 Asking the Questions

3 The Essential Offence

4 The Understandable Offender

5 The Invisible Victim

6 The Elevated Expert

7 The Court as a Site of Struggle Notes

References; Index

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