Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Children's rights, and the culture of secrecy

Lynette Burrows wrote this 1999 essay:
How to control adults by means of 'children's rights'.

When you think about it, the fashionable crusade of 'children's rights' is bound to be anti-family. It is a movement which declares itself to be more interested in the welfare of children than are ordinary parents. It seeks rights and laws for children that neither they, nor their parents, want. It promises to give children legal sanctions against their parents and, in so doing, pits the interests of children against their parents. The inescapable implication is that children are not in safe hands with their own parents and that a whole movement has had to be called into being in order to protect them. It is an innocent-sounding piece of subliminal, anti-family propaganda, advertising the fact that parents are, at best, inadequate and, at worst, hostile to the needs of their children.

Analysing the 'loaded' message of the title 'children's rights' one can see it attempts to pack the punch of an appeal to both parental feeling and the nobility of action implied by the word 'rights'. It is utterly bogus! A 'right is classically defined as 'the freedom to act without interference, according to one's conscience.' It means nothing unless the individual has the capacity to act upon their 'right' and children, by nature of their immaturity and inexperience, do not have that capacity. So they have people who act for them, in the form of the people who created them and who love them more than anyone else. Those people, the adult parents, have a freedom to act according to their conscience, and within the law, with their children and it is that freedom that the children's rights activists seek to remove.

One can clearly map their intentions by what they have achieved so far and what they are signalling they want to do in the future. I don't know anything about the American scene but, in Great Britain, and several European countries, among their achievements has been securing the right of the state to allow under-age children to be given contraceptives and abortions without their parents' knowledge or consent.
The web site has articles about the evils of children's rights in Sweden and other European countries, including this 1997 UK story:
The Sunday Telegraph highlights today yet another case in which a mother has been threatened with losing her baby to local authority care. The mother had not shown any sign at all of harming her child, for her baby has not yet been born.

The local authority, however, is convinced that there is a possibility that she might harm the child.

To most people, it will seem grotesquely unjust that any child could be removed on such a basis. Northumberland County Council is, however, far from unusual in acting in this way. The courts have endorsed the removal of hundreds of children from their natural parents on the basis that there is a possibility that they might "abuse their child emotionally".

Some of those forcible adoptions are appalling acts of injustice. How can such things happen in Britain? The answer is simple: the courts that enforce the taking away of children from parents on local authority say-so operate in secret. It is illegal to reveal their proceedings, or even their judgments.
Yesterday's front page NY Times explains the harm from illegal family court secrecy in New York:
Today, the culture of secrecy has hardly budged. Leah A. Hill, a Fordham Law School professor who has written about and practiced in New York Family Courts, said the courts were largely as unaccountable today as they had ever been, even though they can hold a central place in the lives of poor New Yorkers.

“There hasn’t really been a public discourse about what goes on in Family Court, and part of the reason is that it is a closed institution,” Professor Hill said.
The article explain how reporters have been locked out of court hearings that were supposed to be open to the public.

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