, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 287-308

Jurisprudential and Ethical Perspectives on "The Best Interests of Children"

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Abstract

Justifications of policies must be clearly warranted if educational leaders are to continue to maintain integrity and to sustain the trust of those served. Educators are called upon to mediate many private and public interests, including those pertaining to personal, organizational, professional, and societal values. This work of mediating conflicting values often relates to guarding and/or advocating the interests of children. Leaders must understand what they mean when evoking the potent phrase in the best interests of children. More importantly, they must avoid the temptations of sophistic misuses of the best interests of children notion. What is meant when we say we are deciding in the best interests of children? Each of the political, psychological, pedagogical, philosophical, jurisprudential, and ethical grounds undergirding the concept of the best interests of the child contributes content and meaning to the phrase. While each of these perspectives merits consideration, this article is delimited to an exploration of three interpretations from the field of jurisprudence and four interpretations from the field of ethics.