Conceptof parens patriae

Thedoctrine of Parens patriae has its beginning in English Common Law.During feudal times the King applied several powers and obligations,collectively known as “royal prerogative.” He exercised thesefunctions as the head of the country. In United States, the conceptof parens patriae has had its highest application in childrentreatment, mentally ill people, as well as people who are legallyunable to manage their affairs. The state acts as supreme guardian ofchildren in its jurisdiction, and the courts of a state have inherentpower to interfere and protect the interests of kids whose welfare isrisked by disagreements between parents. The inherent power issupplemented by the legislative acts, which define a scope ofchildren protection in the state (Bartollas &amp Miller, 2011).

Statehas authority to make decisions concerning treatment of mental healthon behalf of a person who is mentally ill, while acting as parenspatriae. However, the extent of state’s intrusion is restricted tonecessary and reasonable treatment. The parens patriae concept wasexpanded in United States to allow the state attorney general tostart litigation for a benefit of residents for the federal antitrustviolations. The intention of this authority is to further publictrust, safeguard economic and general welfare of the state’sresidents, safeguard citizens from unlawful practices, as well asassuring that federal law benefits are not denied to generalpopulation. The “parens patriae” concept forms the basis forjuvenile courts therefore, the state was permitted to make decisionsto benefit the child as the parent would. Parens patriae concept hascontinued to present the time in schools as well as in juvenilejustice system (Bartollas &amp Miller, 2011).


Juvenilejustice system in United States is based on seven primary themes.They include unsolvable nature of crime, get-tough go-soft, increasedauthority for a state, peer pressure, anti-social actions of youth,lack of insight, and stupidity. The theme of increased power of stateis prominent currently than ever before. States have authority toremove children from homes and in a majority of cases it is done inan interest of a child. The power has been given in increments and isexpected to change. Once the power is a hand over it does not getback. Because of this, the increased power of state theme is the mostimportant. It is a growing theme and is expected to grow in modernsociety as long as states find it necessary to remove children fromtheir homes (Bartollas &amp Miller, 2011).

Thepractice of unsolvable nature of crime theme has remained since itfirst conceptual. No matter what people do, there are still victimsand offenders who solution to their problem is not found. The humannature is not perfect. Indeed, juvenile appears to lean towardsHobbs. Juveniles do not have detailed conception that they can becaught instead, they exist in the state of nature and immediateinstinct reaction. The key to unsolvable crime nature is in nurtureof criminal. The theme of get-tough go-soft is logically correct andreasonable in a sense that all actions have equal and oppositereaction. Action of the hard crime has painful penalty while actionof soft crime has soft penalty. In a court of adults, a jurydetermines if accused persons are guilty, but juvenile system doesnot allow this. The concern is that in a children`s court, only a fewadults are involved and records are sealed (Bartollas &amp Miller,2011).


Bartollas,C., &amp Miller, S.J. (2011). Juvenilejustice in America (6th ed.).Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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