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Children's Rights:

The concept of human rights for children is still considered somewhat of a novelty. Children’s right are reserved for all human beings under the age of 18 unless majority is attained earlier under the law applicable to the child. The balancing act within this issue involves securing reasonable rights for children without revoking the powers of parents and community to direct and control a child’s upbringing and well-being. A major problem area is religion. Normally, parents would decide and form a child’s religious education; however, the dilemma lies in creating a freedom for children to resist unhealthy religious influence that is directly detrimental to their well-being. Another major is the age at which children should be permitted to take part in armed conflict. Some believe that the age at which children should be allowed to fight should be 18 however certain officials in the US wish to maintain recruiting at a younger age.
The most important consideration in developing human rights of the child is that the child’s best interest be the primary consideration. Many believe it is necessary to preserve the child’s right to express opinions, be safe from abuse, have access to health and medical care, have liberty and have information to their formal rights.
The concept for these principles lies in the Western idea that the child should be protected from the adult world. The protective view of childhood as a time for play and training for adulthood are not typically part of the experience of the rest of the world. These provisions however are meant especially to protect children from becoming child soldiers or laborers. Some argue that this focus on children’s right implicitly blames the adult population (especially that of the third world). This becomes a sign of the moral failing of their society and the imperative of the best interest of the child gives outside agencies the power to intervene. This process is often referred to as the “infantilization” of the South and demonstrates the complexity of international human rights issues.
Within the US must resistance was given to the development of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Vocal opponents, mostly conservative religious organizations voiced concern that if the U.S. were to ratify the convention that the UN would be able to pass over the authority of the family in the US. The convention was construed as an invasion of privacy and a way to strip the parents of rights. It was thought that Article 13 of the convention would make parents subject to prosecution for any attempt to prevent their children from interaction with pornography, rock music, or television. It was also believed that Article 14 would give children the right to object to all religious training, and Article 15 would prevent parents from forbidding their children to associate with people deemed to be objectionable companions; thus, children would have the right to join gangs or cults.
The CRC and the debate on the rights of children is not meant to liberate children from the control of their parents to the point of lawlessness. What it is meant to do is to provide a framework against which states can measure governmental policies for children (511-520).

*Steiner, Henry J. & Philip Alston. International Human Rights In Context: Law, Politics and Morals. Oxford Press. 2000.

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Copyright © Laura Rowe.