This seminar focuses on federal and state law designed to protect children from sexual exploitation, as well as federal constitutional law regulating young adults' expressive rights with regard to gender and sexual identity. While the seminar provides a general introduction to some child protection laws that are intended to shield children from sexual exploitation, its primary purpose is to teach students about how these same laws actively "construct" the concept of the child as they attempt to protect children. Specifically, students will explore how laws designed to protect children from sexual exploitation also naturalize certain assumptions about children's perceptions, cognitive capacities, interests and vulnerabilities. Our discussions will explore how the law, while attempting to catalogue and regulate the potential threats children face, also instantiates certain ideas about children's potential sex-related injuries and how these injures can affect children over time. Additionally, seminar discussions will explore whether there are any inconsistencies between the understanding of childhood, sexual injury, capacity, and autonomy in various areas of state child protection law, federal constitutional law, and relevant federal statutes.
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