Friday, December 2, 2005

YLS Launches Web Resource on How Children are Represented

On December 1, 2005, Yale Law School launched a new website, Representing Children Worldwide, which presents a global snapshot of legal provisions to guarantee children's right to express views freely in child protective proceedings. Representing Children Worldwide is the first comprehensive review of how children's voices are heard in child protective proceedings. The project is the result of a year and a half of diligent research conducted by Clinical Professor Jean Koh Peters and a team of Yale Law School students and affiliates.

Representing Children Worldwide provides a summary of the practices of each of the 194 signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child and the 56 jurisdictions within the U.S., as well as background information on each jurisdiction's child protective practices, and web resources and contact information for further research. The website uses an easy-to-navigate interface to guide web users to the listing for each jurisdiction. For many countries, the statutes are presented in their original language, as well as in English, to make them as useful as possible for advocates and researchers around the world.

"I'm hoping that scholars and activists will use Representing Children Worldwide as a starting place for research," says Jean Koh Peters. She points out that the drive to have children be heard in court proceedings is a recent phenomenon, and many countries are implementing such practices for the first time. People considering legislative change could benefit from comparing the different approaches described by Representing Children Worldwide. Peters adds, "But I would feel happiest if I found out it was actually helpful to individual practitioners, and thereby helped individual children's voices be heard better."

Thirty-seven students and affiliates worked with Peters, spending dozens of hours researching each jurisdiction. Numerous others contributed advice, insight, translation services, and technical expertise.