This paper deals with the way in which official court reports are constructed at a Children's Reception and Assessment Centre in London, England. These reports and their recommendations serve as a key resource for the court in helping the magistrate to decide what is "in the best interest of the child." The work deals with the unequal distribution of status and power between the agency and the parents of Assessment Centre children. The analysis demonstrates how, in the case of serious differences between the agency and the parent regarding what is in the child's best interest, the agency's status and power advantage are used to convince the court that the agency and not the parent has the authoritative version of what is in the best interest of the child. This is done by invoking a series of strategic written maneuvers in constructing the official court report, such that the agency's version of reality is understood by any intelligent reader to be the correct one, and the parents' version of reality, as it appears in the report, the discredited one.

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