Defining “sufficient maturity”: providing clarity on Section 129 of the Children’s Act

Pieters, Christian Rudolph Dewet (2018-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY: It becomes increasingly clear that when one deals with a child that one is not only dealing with the child but the entities that are responsible for the child as well. One, however, becomes aware that the intention of these entities, be they bona or mala fide, may not always translate into an outcome that is inherently beneficial to the child who is the subject of medical intervention. This concern was noted by the Legislature and was addressed as best they deemed fit with the inclusion of additional rights for children in section 129 of the Children’s Act. These rights allowed the child a certain level of participation in their health care needs. However, these rights were attached to “sufficient maturity“, a phrase that finds no clarity in the Children’s Act and has been seemingly left to the discretion of the Health Care Provider that finds him/herself in the position of treating a minor. This thesis aims to provide some certainty as what the content of sufficient maturity is and perhaps more importantly how Health Care Providers can give effect to the rights of children. Furthermore, the thesis provides the psychological backdrop for evaluating children and for making certain positive assumptions as to the agency of the child in need of health care. These assumptions are developed and used in tempering the ethical, be they western or ubuntu in nature, and legal landscapes in which Health Care Providers and children find themselves. The product of this thesis is a framework that aims to assist Health Care Providers in their interactions with the child, their parents, caregivers, guardians, or community in circumstances where the nature of the interactions is almost as crucial as the help sought by the child.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Dit word toenemend duidelik dat wanneer 'n mens te doen het met 'n kind, 'n mens nie net die hantering van die kind, maar ook die entiteite wat verantwoordelik is vir die kind in ag moet neem. Hierdie entiteite is onder andere die kind se ouers, voogde en of gemeenskap. Verder is dit soms duidelik dat die bedoelings van hierdie entiteite, of dit nou bona of mala fide is, nie altyd die inherent voordeligste uitkoms vir die kind onderworpe aan mediese ingryping weergee nie. Hierdie kommer is deur die Wetgewer opgemerk en so bes moontlik aangespreek met die insluiting van addisionele regte vir kinders soos vervat in artikel 129 van die Kinderwet. Hierdie regte besorg aan die kind 'n sekere vlak van deelname in hul gesondheidsorg behoeftes. Hierdie regte is egter gekoppel aan die begrip voldoende volwassenheid (“sufficient maturity”), 'n begrip wat geen duidelikheid in die Kinderwet vind nie. Die interpertasie van die begrip word skynbaar aan die diskresie van die gesondheidsorgverskaffer oorgelaat, wat hom of haarself in die posisie van die behandeling van ‘n minderjarige bevind. Hierdie tesis het ten doel om meer duidelikheid aan die inhoud van die begrip voldoende volwassenheid te verleen en dalk nog belangriker hoe gesondheidsorgverskaffers hierdie regte van kinders kan toepas. Verder bied die tesis ‘n sielkundige benadering tot die evaluering van kinders met die behoefte aan gesondheidsorg in die bepaling van voldoende volwassenheid. Hierdie benadering is tesame met die etiese ontwikkel, hetsy westers of ubuntu in benadering as ook die wetlike landskappe waarin gesondheidsorgverskaffers en kinders hulself bevind Die uitset van hierdie tesis is 'n raamwerk wat daarop gemik is om gesondheidsorgverskaffers in hul interaksie met die kind, hul ouers, hul voogde en of gemeenskap te help in hul interpretasie met begrip rakende die belangrikheid tussen die hulp soos deur die kind vereis asook die omstandighede en aard van die behandeling soos benodig deur die kind.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103752
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