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Do We Do Too Little About Child Abuse — or Too Much?
A Conversation between Larissa MacFarquhar (The New Yorker), Zabrina Aleguire (Equal Justice Society), and Michael S. Wald (Stanford Law School).
Each year child protective services removes thousands of children from their parents and places them in foster care. It does this to prevent abuse or neglect, but the experience is traumatic for children and parents alike. How do caseworkers and judges make the momentous decision, whether or not to remove a child, and how could the system be changed for the better?
LARISSA MACFARQUHAR is the author of Strangers Drowning: Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Urge to Help (Penguin Press, 2015). She has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1998. Her subjects have included John Ashbery, Edward Albee, Derek Parfit, Patricia Churchland and Paul Churchland, Richard Posner, and Noam Chomsky among many others. Before joining The New Yorker, MacFarquhar was a senior editor at Lingua Franca and an advisory editor at The Paris Review.
ZABRINA ALEGUIRE is the Acting Legal Director at the Equal Justice Society. She was previously Senior Staff Attorney and Education Project Director at Legal Services for Children (LSC) in San Francisco. At LSC, she defended students in expulsion hearings and advocated on a statewide level for school discipline reforms that promote restorative practices and trauma-informed alternatives.
Before joining LSC, Zabrina clerked in the Southern District of New York, and was a fellow at The Door’s Legal Services in New York City advocating for youth aging out of foster care. Zabrina also previously represented parents in dependency cases in Brooklyn as a public defender. She received her B.A. at Furman University and her J.D. from New York University School of Law.
MICHAEL S. WALD has been a member of the SLS faculty since 1967, where he has been deeply devoted to the cause of children’s rights and welfare, and a frequent expert advisor on youth and children’s legal issues nationwide. He has had a distinguished career as an academic researcher, teacher, and public official. He is one of the leading national authorities on legal policy toward children, and he drafted the American Bar Association’s Standards Related to Child Abuse and Neglect, as well as major federal and state legislation regarding child welfare.
Professor Wald has served as deputy general counsel for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, executive director of the San Francisco Department of Human Services, and senior advisor to the president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. He is currently a member of a National Academy of Sciences Committee on Parenting and the San Francisco Our Children Our Families Council.