The CRC: Parents have No Right to Decide how their Children are Educated

The CRC: Parents have No Right to Decide how their Children are Educated

‘Tis the season for the Obama administration to push for U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a U.N. treaty that, if ratify by the Senate, stands to threaten a parent’s right and ability to bring up their children in the way they see fit.  Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. continues on the offensive by introducing Senate Resolute 519 that asks the Senate not to ratify the CRC because it “undermines traditional principles of law in the United States regarding parents and children.”

The CRC, first adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1990, is notorious for such things as prohibiting parents from using spanking as a form of discipline and intruding on many other aspects of family life including insisting on graphic sex education, promoting abortion without parental knowledge or consent and putting major restrictions on parental authority over their minor children.

Consequences of ratification of the CRC to citizens of a country become painfully clear when you consider the case of the Christer and Annie Johansson family.  In June 2009, Swedish officials seized 7-year-old Dominic and removed him from his home because the Swedish government does not believe home-schooling is a proper way to educate a child. Social services authorities have placed Dominic in foster care and a government school and are only allowing his parents to visit their son for one hour every five weeks.  Swedish authorities defend their actions by citing the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.  In July, the Johanssons filed an application for their case to be heard before the European Court of Human Rights.

So will the CRC be ratified in the U.S.?  So far, DeMint’s bill has at least 30 co-sponsors.  Please contact your senators and let them know you’d like to see Senate Resolution 519 pass.  The U.S. has a long history and legal precedent of parental right superseding any claimed interest of the state in all but extremely serious circumstances, i.e. abuse or neglect.  That needs to remain the case.

“Children’s rights have become a mantra invoked by adults to help them in their fights with other adults in all sorts of contexts… It is a useful subterfuge [for adults seeking to hide their own motives].  The appeal to the ‘best interests of the child’ may seem alluring and child-friendly…[B]ut it is a formula for unleashing state power, without any meaningful reassurance of advancing children’s interests.  It means substituting the state’s preference about some aspect of child-rearing for the parents’.  But this hardly ensures the second opinion is better than the first.”

Martin Guggenheim, What’s Wrong With Children’s Rights?  [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005], xii-xiii, 8-17, 38-41, 245-247.)

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