The Justice for Children Project has two primary components. The first - research and legal reform - underscores the Project's commitment to find workable solutions to the problems facing children and their families within the intersection of theory and practice. On one level, this creates opportunities for faculty and interested students, through research assistantships, to engage in original research and writing in a number of areas affecting children and their families.
Through the publication of scholarly articles, the support of interdisciplinary research, and the promotion and sponsorship of symposia, the Project permits students to explore particular issues affecting children from an interdisciplinary perspective. This is particularly important in light of increasing public concerns about juvenile crime, education, and safe families.
The Project's primary goal, therefore, is to produce scholarship that provides philosophical support for the work of children's rights advocates by building bridges between theory and practice and by considering and integrating the findings of other disciplines.
The synergy between the Project's two goals - research and legal reform and direct representation of children in the Justice for Children Practicum - has created exciting research opportunities. For example, Professor Kathryn Hunt Federle, the Projectís former Director, has received research grants from The Ohio State University Criminal Justice Research Center, the Coca Cola Difference for Women Faculty Grant for Research, and the Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies to investigate domestic violence filings against children in Franklin County.
Based on the experiences of law student interns in the Justice for Children Practicum, it appeals that many children, who may themselves be the victims of domestic violence, are being prosecuted when they defend themselves or other household members from an abusive parent or guardian.
The purpose of the funded research is to explore the circumstances under which children are charged and how this may be connected with their experience of abuse. Although the research has just begun, there may be a gendered aspect to these filings. In turn, this may explain why, on a national level, girls' cases are increasing as a percentage of the juvenile court's caseload at a time of declining juvenile crime.
Professor Federle also has written extensively about children's rights and children's issues. Much of her theoretical work is informed by her practical experience in representing children.