The UN Convention of the Rights of a Child is big news right now. Only the US and Somalia has yet to enter into this treaty, and the Obama administration is pushing for its ratification. Ratifying this treaty is NOT in the US's best interest. I know that a lot of people are thinking it is just us nutty homeschoolers and Christians who are against it, but I say we all should be against it. The treaty threatens to take away the parental rights of everyone, regardless of your beliefs in schooling, religion, parenting, etc. I believe that every parent, and future parent, should look closely at this treaty and ask yourself questions such as the ones I've asked below. Questions like:
Would you be willing to take your child to religious gatherings contrary to your personal beliefs? As an atheist, are you willing to take your child to a Christian church if that's what your child wants? As a Muslim, are you willing to take your child to a Jewish synagogue? As a Christian, are you willing to take your child to a Masonic Temple? This treaty gives your child the right to follow any religious beliefs they wish to, and requires that the "competent authorities" ensure that you provide for them to do so.
My comments/questions are in purple. The black text is taken directly from the treaty document. I did not include and comment on every article of the convention.
Bearing in mind that, as indicated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, "the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth",
I can agree with this part. I especially like that it protects the child BEFORE birth as well as after. In my mind, this would ensure that those who murder a pregnant mom would be prosecuted for both the murders of the woman and her unborn child. Further, it would outlaw all abortions.
- 1. In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
My question for this provision is: "Who decides what is the best interests of the child?" What happens if what I think is in the best interest of my child is different from what the social welfare institution thinks is in the best interest of my child? Who's opinion wins?
2. States Parties undertake to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being, taking into account the rights and duties of his or her parents, legal guardians, or other individuals legally responsible for him or her, and, to this end, shall take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures.
3. States Parties shall ensure that the institutions, services and facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall conform with the standards established by competent authorities, particularly in the areas of safety, health, in the number and suitability of their staff, as well as competent supervision.
Who are the competent authorities who are establishing these standards? Who is determining what constitutes a competent authority? Is a competent authority someone who is liberal, conservative, socialist, capitalist, Muslim, Christian, Atheist? To what kind of people are we giving the authority to decide just how we can and cannot raise our children?
- States Parties shall undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention. With regard to economic, social and cultural rights, States Parties shall undertake such measures to the maximum extent of their available resources and, where needed, within the framework of international co-operation.
What does appropriate mean in this situation? Does this mean that our government can legislate away our rights to parent our children as we determine best, and take punitive measures against us if we don't follow these new laws?
- 1. States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents, or one where the parents are living separately and a decision must be made as to the child's place of residence.
This provision is a HUGE can of worms. Again, who is deciding what makes someone a competent authority and who is deciding what, exactly, is the child's best interest?
2. In any proceedings pursuant to paragraph 1 of the present article, all interested parties shall be given an opportunity to participate in the proceedings and make their views known.
It's nice that we are allowed to tell the competent authorities our opinion. The child, regardless of age, is also allowed to tell them his opinion.
3. States Parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child's best interests.
The first section sounds good: the child is allowed to maintain contact with the parents unless those competent authorities decide it isn't a good idea. Imagine your child being taken away from you. Imagine your child traumatized by being taken away from you and wants to at least see and talk to you sometimes. Imagine the case worker saying you can't see each other because she thinks it isn't in the child's best interest per her definition.
- 1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
I can see a child, who is angry with their parents for requiring them to do reasonable chores, being given the right to express views such as their parents being too mean/harsh/punitive/etc., and those views being given due weight in court.
- 1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice.
Do you think a young child should have the right to receive information of all kinds? What if your 12 year old wants information about how to use birth control, how to satisfy the other gender sexually, and how to find a wide variety of sexual partners? What if your angry, depressed, and suicidal teen wants information on how to procure a gun?
Article 141. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
What if you are an atheist parent? Will you be willing to take your young child to the church of his choice every week? What if his choice of religion is a well-known cult? Christian parents: are you willing to take and drop your child off at a Masonic, Hindu, or Buddhist Temple? Do you think an 8 year old has enough life experience to make these kinds of decisions? Once this treaty is passed, your child has a right to his own religion, and you must allow them to pursue it, regardless of your beliefs.
Article 161. No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.
What if you suspect your child of using drugs? Does his right of privacy prevent you from searching his room or backpack for the drugs?
Article 17States Parties recognize the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health. To this end, States Parties shall:
(a) Encourage the mass media to disseminate information and material of social and cultural benefit to the child and in accordance with the spirit of article 29;
Who is deciding what information is beneficial for your child? Do you trust mass media to provide beneficial information to your child?
Who is deciding what information is injurious to a child's well-being? What if you consider the information to be injurious to your child but they decide it is beneficial?
1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
States parties shall protect the children from harm done by their parents. Who decides what physical or mental violence is? What injury or abuse is? What neglect is? Is spanking violence? Is use of time outs negligence or maltreatment?
Article 281. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:
(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;(e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.
How will this affect homeschooling in our country? We have already seen this be used against homeschooling in Germany, and it is being currently being used against homeschoolers in Britain.
1. States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:
(a) The development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential.
This would be great if public schools were forced to do this. Homeschooling has already proven superior in this aspect for most homeschooled children. However, I can see a competent authority arguing for public school placement using this provision to say that the parents' beliefs are not allowing for the development of the child's personality.
(c) The development of respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own;
Would this require the schools to develop the child's Christian values? Could this be used, as it has been in Germany, to outlaw homeschooling? In Germany, the national values are that the child be taught to become good citizens, as defined by the government, and it was decided that this cannot be accomplished properly if the child is not in public school.
(d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;
In our country, preparing the child for tolerance means teaching that everyone is morally right except Christians.
Article 311. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
Will reasonable chores be considered interfering with the child's rights to rest and leisure?
Article 37States Parties shall ensure that:
(a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offenses committed by persons below eighteen years of age;
There are two parts to this to comment on. The first sentence could limit our ability to discipline our kids. Can you imagine a nation full of teens and adults who have never been disciplined because a competent authority decided that spanking, time outs, restrictions, taking away an ipod, or whatever constitutes cruel or degrading treatment? The second sentence means that a 17 year old can go on a killing spree but not be charged in accordance to his deeds. They are old enough to take automatic weapons into a school and kill a bunch of teachers and classmates, but not old enough to be tried, convicted, and punished as an adult.
(b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;
What IS the shortest appropriate period of detention for a 17 year old who has killed a dozen or two of his classmates?
2. States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities.
But your 15, 16, or 17 year old can take direct part in hostilities.
3. States Parties shall refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the age of fifteen years into their armed forces. In recruiting among those persons who have attained the age of fifteen years but who have not attained the age of eighteen years, States Parties shall endeavour to give priority to those who are oldest.
Would you agree with the recruitment of your 15 year old into the armed forces, especially during a time of war/conflict when they have a likely chance of being sent into the conflict?
(a) The establishment of a minimum age below which children shall be presumed not to have the capacity to infringe the penal law;
What will this minimum age?
1. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall receive and circulate to all States the text of reservations made by States at the time of ratification or accession.
Our country is allowed to ratify this treaty while stating that they have reservations about certain portions of it.
2. A reservation incompatible with the object and purpose of the present Convention shall not be permitted.
However, the reservations are not permitted if they are deemed incompatible with the convention. Meaning, if our country ratifies this treaty with reservations, our reservations mean nothing. We still have to follow the entire thing, even if we disagree with it.
Article 52A State Party may denounce the present Convention by written notification to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Denunciation becomes effective one year after the date of receipt of the notification by the Secretary-General.
Hey, if our country ratifies the treaty and changes it's mind, it can...but it doesn't go into affect for a year. This would give them time to do something to prevent our pulling out of the treaty.
If you are at all concerned about any of these issues, contact your senators and urge them to oppose ratification of this treaty. You can find their information here.