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November 08, 2004

US ruling on children exposed to abuse at home

New York State Court of Appeals has ruled that children who have been exposed to abuse at home cannot be taken from their parents and placed in foster care. The ruling, reports The New York Times, formalises specific standards for removing children from homes where domestic abuse occurs, requiring that authorities exhaust alternatives and insisting that the possible threat to the child's health or welfare be imminent. The courts, in a unanimous decision, said it was not acceptable to take children out of their homes solely because they had seen the mother being beaten, suggesting that it would unfairly punish innocent women and even harm the children themselves. Instead, it said the authorities would have to show that the mother was indifferent to the psychological harm that repeated exposure to beatings caused the child in order to justify asking the courts to consider a removal.

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