Rights of a Child


The other morning on the way to work, I heard a snippet from The Daily Show where Jon Stewart is making fun of the fact that the US and Somalia are the only two countries in the UN to not ratify the global children’s rights treaty.  The joke was something about pirates.  I don’t recall it because I was too intrigued by why we haven’t ratified this thing.

At a high level, opponents in the US are afraid that parental rights are in jeopardy.  That the government could start making things like spanking illegal using the treaty as justification, thus usurp the parents and national sovereignty.

I really felt like I must be missing something.  So, I did some quick research on the subject on Wikipedia.

This treaty is almost 20 years old.  193 countries have ratified it.  The goal is to provide a framework for guaranteeing children basic protections – food, shelter, contact with parents, protections against abuse (capital punishment is mentioned, but not corporal punishment), health care, eduction.

The US is exploring a possible Constitutional Amendment to protect parental rights.  This is our way of ensuring this treaty, if ratified,  does not infringe of parents.  Really?

For me, I look at what we already do to protect children and clearly our laws support the spirit of the treaty.  For example:

Deny your children medical care which results in them dying or causing permanent harm – it’s child abuse and/or neglect (or more).

Deny your children food – it’s child abuse and neglect.  People go to jail for it.

Don’t send your kid to school.  That was can be trickier to deal with – but you can get in trouble for it.

Beat your child with a tire iron for being “bad”, it’s abuse.

We as a society raise money to make sure kids have clothes and shelter and food.  Food banks, shelters, clothes closets are just a few ways we do it.

We have governmental programs (good or bad) to help make sure parents can keep food on the table – WIC and food stamps are a few.  Keep the lights on or the heat on – you have funds through social services usually.

Child pornography is illegal.  Child prostitution is illegal.  Child labor is closely controlled and illegal before a certain age.

What am I missing besides the corporal punishment question??

This treaty also gives the child rights to have relationships with their parents even if they are not in the custody of their parents.  Seems like a small win for the parents in this one.

Garbanzo and a couple friends of mine in social services can show example after example of that one.  These kids need protection.  They didn’t ask to be born.  They were born.  And these grossly underpaid, overworked people are trying to educate them, trying to educate the parents on how to be parents (like you must give your kids a bath occasionally or wash their clothes), trying to find the parents resources to keep them in a house or apartment, trying to make sure the kids have food and clothes and heat.   And in some cases, must remove the child from the parents due to abuse.  Must try to get the parent to do the right thing and give their children to protective services because they can’t take care of them and fight the heroin addiction.

Not to get all political on you, but I find it to be an oxymoron – one I’ve always tried to figure out about conservatives.  Pro-life – but anti-child protections?  The same people who are fighting for the protections of the unborn are fighting to keep this treaty from being signed.

Again, I ask, what am I missing?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Since we support the spirit, why not just go whole hog.

    I think that this country could do better with providing for its less advantaged children, but no one seems to want to spend the money for that.

  2. Just me... says:

    Huge subject… From an ex-social worker’s viewpoint. :):)

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