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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

Protecting Parental Liberty in a Child-Centred Legal System

Discussion Paper by Cindy Silver

There has been continuous debate about the relationship between the state and family, particularly with regard to the roles and responsibilities assigned to each. Cindy Silver begins with an ideological discussion about the role of the state and family. According to Silver, in Canada the institutions of the family, private property and religion are under strain. She contends it is time to renew discussion about the “proper role of the family in a free and democratic society.”

Silver contends that the state plays a role in ensuring children are not neglected or abused, however, the state must not encroach on the independence of the family. Further, she points out that growing evidence suggests the time has come to re-examine and correct the tension between the state and the family, a course of action which will entail “the re-articulation of the family, its nature and its proper place in civil society.”

In her paper Silver examines the effects of recent developments in national and international law that touch on “family autonomy.” She highlights the importance of seeking “the best interests of the child,” but cautions that such inquiries have extended beyond where the lives of children are at stake. For example, Silver says, the state’s role is not to determine what kind of religious education a child receives. However, such inquiries have occurred in recent years.

Silver argues that effective family autonomy cannot be taken for granted. The crux of Silver’s analysis is that sufficient documented cases exist for politicians and policy- makers to take positive steps to ensure that concerns about children’s welfare do not provide opportunities for the state and the courts to intervene where they have no place. The author aims to generate a broader discussion in Canada about the respective roles of the state and the family.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): Cindy Silver;
Publisher: Centre for Cultural Renewal [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2005; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: National;
Registration Required: No Language: English
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF, Hard Copy

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / Crime & Justice / Legislation
Policy Articles / Crime & Justice / Human Rights
Policy Articles / Crime & Justice / Human Rights / 2005
Policy Articles / Crime & Justice / Legislation / 2005
Policy Articles / Crime & Justice


Keywords / Tags:

state-family relationships; role of family in democratic society; state protection of children; independence of family; state-family tensions; re-articulation of family; legal developments regarding family autonomy; family autonomy; best interests of the child; child's religious education; children's welfare; state-family roles;