Protecting Children?: Thoughts on the Convention on the Rights of the Child

I got an email fowarded to me from the ParentalRights.org (“Protecting Children by Empowering Parents”) about the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which is a “civil rights treaty setting out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children,” according to Wikipedia.  It hasn’t been ratified by the United States, primarily because of religious and conservative opposition:

For example, the Heritage Foundation sees it as threatening national control over domestic policy. Other groups also oppose it, such as the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which argues that the CRC threatens homeschooling, and parental rights groups such as ParentalRights.org, who claim that it would automatically override almost all domestic laws on children and families because of the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause in Article VI, and that it undermines parental rights by granting State officials the power to micromanage families and review all parental decisions to verify that they are truly in the “best interests” of the child, when the best interests standard is highly subjective, in addition to allowing minors to have abortions without the knowledge or consent of parents. President Barack Obama has described the failure to ratify the Convention as ’embarrassing’ and has promised to review this.

Here are my thoughts and concerns about the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) after reading it (if you want to read it, you can go here):

  1. GOOD: This could easily be viewed as a good document, because it says that children should be seen as people, and treated with dignity.
  2. GOOD: It advocates that every child should be seen with an inherent right to life.
  3. GOOD: Article 21 advocates for strong national and international adoption.
  4. BAD: The “well-being of the child” clause is mentioned several times, and is very vague, which leaves the document open to abuse and interpretation, which would likely be to the detriment of parents and parental rights.
  5. BAD: The freedom of a child to express their religion or beliefs can be limited in order to “protect public safety, order, health, or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.”  This seems to be contrary to our freedom of religion, or could be interpreted to mean that.
  6. BAD: This places a responsibility on the State to “render appropriate assistance” to parents to raise their children.  This is not a responsibility of government.
  7. NEUTRAL, but concerning: The CRC says that education of children is a right, which could drive bad policy (like requiring children to be educated in bad public schools).
  8. BAD: Article 29 of the CRC is particularly concerning, especially subsections (d) and (e), as it lays down some concerning directions about a child’s education.  Children are to be educated in:
    1. “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;”  I don’t know that I want my children to end up as peaceniks, tolerance freaks, that think that men and women are the same (equal is good, but “equality of sexes” can be interpreted to mean that men and women are the same in every way, physically, spiritually, phychologically, and they aren’t.)
    2. “The development of respect for the natural environment.”  I’m all for respecting the natural environment, but this opens the door for some very controversial environmental educational curriculum, some of which I don’t want being taught to my children.
  9. BAD: Article 17 of the CRC seems to be advocating that the State will ensure that each child is exposed to a wide variety of “mass media,” which comes from “a diversity of national and international sources.”  Anything and everything should be shown to children, as long as it is “material of social and cultural benefit to the child.”  This is concerning.

Overall, I think that this document, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), is something that we don’t need, either as a state (Illinois) or a country (United States).  The rights of children are being properly handled by state government, and we don’t need the federal government to take jurisdiction over how parents are raising their children, or checking up on us to make sure we do certain things.  I think that this vague document may have been drawn under good intentions, and may be helpful for some developing nations, but it will likely only hamper Christians in the raising of their children, and serve to curb parental rights when it comes to the raising and educating of children.

What can you do?  Visit the ParentalRights.org website to sign the petition opposing the ratification of the CRC.  You can also call your state senator and tell them to oppose S.R. 92 in committee or on the Illinois Senate floor.  The Illinois Senate Executive Committee will be meeting on Wednesday, April 6 about this bill.

Your thoughts?  Should we ratify the CRC?