Don't really know what to call it. My uni calls it a master thesis in english, to, I suppose, point out that it's on an advanced level even though we don't do the whole undergrad/gradschool thing. But I'm not doing a masters degree, so it isn't really. On the other hand, it's also not a bachelors. It's just a law degree. So I tend to call it a grad essay, because that's more or less what the swedish name means, but I don't know if that accurately reflects to english speakers what it actually is.
My big final essay thingy. I think I've figured out what is is that I'm actually wanting to write about. I had this loose vague idea, but no real name for it. But then I got this book yesterday, which explains it. I want to write about the concept of The Unified Famiy Court. I knew something like that existed, but I didn't know what it was called, so it was hard to explain to people.
According to the book:
"Some states and local jurisdictions have replaced the juvenile court with a unified family court. Unified family courts enable one judge, working with social service workers and other support personnel, to resolve all matters typically associated with distressed families."
"Ths array [of matters under jurisdiction] typically includes divorce proceedings, paternity suits, support actions, criminal prosecutions charging abuse or neglect or domestic violence, emancipation proceedings, and proceedings for protective orders under child abuse and adult abuse statutes." That is in addition to ordinary juvenile court matters such as civil abuse and neglect proceedings, adoption, status offences (only an offence if done by a juvenile) and delinquencies (would have been a felony or misdemeanor if done by an adult).
In short, it's a way to try and get all matters involving children under one roof. Otherwise you could have proceedings in several different courts, relating to the same actual events. The book uses the example of alleged child abuse by a parent. That one event could lead to a neglect action from the state, a divorce and custody action from the other parent and a criminal prosecution. These three could, if there is no unified family court, be tried in three different courts (juvenile, family and criminal court) - potentially forcing the child to testify in three different proceedings.
In Sweden it's slightly less complex, we only have two court systems, but you can still end up in both. The above example would have the divorce and criminal cases in the general courts, but in differents proceedings, and the neglect case in the administrative court.
Same problem if the child is the offender - you'd have a criminal case in general court, and a possible child protection case in administrative court.
My theory, and belief, is that troubled children and families would be better served if these things could be pulled together under one jurisdiction. It would give judges a chance to specialise in these extremely complicated matters, and also to get a (more) complete view of the issues. Furthermore, it would decrease the number of agencies involved, hopefully cutting down on the amount of bureaucrasy and increasing efficiency. That ought to be good for everyone.
So that's what I want to do - I want to look at how that works, here, where it exists. Arguments for and against, whether there have been any evaluations...that sort of thing.
It's cool to have a name for it.
 p. 3 of Children and the Law, in a nutshell series.