Assessing Children’s Capacity: Reconceptualising our Understanding through the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Assessing Children’s Capacity: Reconceptualising our Understanding through the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
Research Article
Aoife Daly
The International Journal of Children’s Rights, 24 August 2020; 28(3) pp 471-499
Open Access
Abstract
This article seeks to reconceptualise approaches to assessing children’s capacity, particularly in light of Article 5 of the crc, which enshrines the principle of the evolving capacities of the child. Professionals regularly assess children’s capacity, for example when doctors treat children, or when lawyers represent child clients. They usually do this assessment intuitively however, as there is little guidance on how assessment should work in practice. Medical law in England and Wales serves as a case study to examine law and practice as well as challenges in the area. It is concluded that it may not necessarily be possible objectively to measure children’s capacity, and it may need to be done intuitively. Yet it should be done via a process which is rights-based. An approach to children’s capacity is proposed through four concepts based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: Autonomy, Evidence, Support and Protection.

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