2.6 Assessing best interests and competing interests in practice

Activity 2.3: Assessing best interests and competing interests in practice

Read the case study below.

Achen is a 14-year-old girl who goes to see her doctor saying she is getting headaches. During the course of the consultation, she breaks down and says that her father is sexually abusing her. However, she does not want you to do anything or tell anyone. She feels that it will cause more problems. She does not think her mother will believe her, and then she will be even more isolated and unhappy than she is now. And if action is taken against her father, it will destroy the family and her mother will blame her.

  1. What factors do you need to consider in weighing up Achen’s best interests? Use the table below to write in the factors you need to think about, which include factors relating to Achen’s best interests and the interests of others. Some suggestions have been filled in to get you started. You do not have to complete every box in the table, but try to fill in at least five more suggestions.
Rights and best interests of a childInterests of other childrenInterests of parents/familyInterests of wider society
Rights in the UN Convention and African CharterChildren have a right to be protected from all forms of violenceGovernments should ensure children are protected from violence and abuse
Views of the childAchen is worried about the impact on her family
The child’s other needsAchen may provide support in the home which includes looking after younger children
The child’s immediate and long-term interestsTaking visible action in one case may deter others from committing offences
  1. Once you have added at least five more suggestions of factors you need to consider, look at all the information in the table, comparing different degrees of potential benefit or harm. In this situation, what action will be in Achen’s best interests?

Compare you answers with the table at the end of the study session.

Balancing the interests of a child with wider society

2.7 What is meant by ‘non-discrimination’?