In What Circumstances If At All Should We Respect A Childs Wishes

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In what circumstances, if at all, should we respect a child's wishes? In this essay I plan to explore a number of areas which I feel it necessary to have an understanding of before finally being able to answer the question. I will start with a definition of autonomy and examine when, if at all, a child becomes autonomous. I will then put forward the arguments for paternalism and discuss a child's rights to self-determination. I will conclude by looking at UK law with regard to respecting the wishes of a child.

Before answering the question, I think it important to explore the meaning of the term "˜child' and when, if ever, does a child become capable of making autonomous decisions and choices? Although there are many schools of thought about what being autonomous actually means it can largely be boiled down to having the capacity to be self-determining and capable of having self-rule.

In order to be completely autonomous one would need to have the following things: · The capacity to reason and reflect "“ rationality, intelligence and perhaps also information.

· The capacity to make one's desires "˜line up' with the outcomes of ones reflections.

· Freedom from "˜distorting' or "˜controlling' influences (Eve Garrard, 2000) According to the above definition, I feel that some adults' ability to be autonomous is as much at question as that of a child. Take for example an adult with metal health problems or mental impairment, or those addicted to or under the influence of mind-altering substances. I would suggest that whether they are a child or not, they are not fully able to stand back and reflect upon their choices and thus there level of autonomy is limited.

Another problem to take account of when considering whether or not a child can...