In the days when child rearing was seen to be a kind of training and the father was all-powerful, the abuse of children was tolerated. In the last quarter of the twentieth century, in our society, the child came to be recognised as a being in his or her own right, and violence is now perceived as an abuse of power to be reported to the authorities, to be prevented and punished when it does occur. While obvious violent behaviour is punished systematically, other acts, committed against the very young, often go unpunished, because it is not possible to determine the exact cause of injuries identified by doctors. The aim of this session is to stimulate a general discussion about the judicial treatment of violence committed against minors, particularly through the criminal courts. It also aims to provide participants with scientific data to give them a better understanding of certain forms of violence with particularly serious consequences. The session will focus on the anthropological and psychological bases of violence against minors, the relationship between the exercise of authority and violent behaviour, and the problem of infanticide. Shaken baby syndrome will be looked at in particular. This will include a presentation of medical data and the problems of how perpetrators should be dealt with by the judicial system. The issue of genital mutilation will also be covered.
The lectures will be followed by Q&A sessions including contributions from historians, sociologists, child psychiatrists, neurologists, judges and prosecutors.