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Children's Rights

Historical Roots Of The Children's Rights Movement, Universal Standards On The Rights Of Children

A country can be judged by countless measures, but for many people the most significant are its treatment of children under eighteen years of age and the legal protection that society affords them. Most people profess to love children: Is this merely an abstraction, or are political and social environments truly child-centered? Are children accorded the rights, dignity, and benefits worthy of their status as citizens and human beings, or does their legal incapacity result in their needless subjection to abuse, exploitation, and other dangers? Does society permit, to the detriment of children, the unrestricted exercise of parental prerogative and the neglect of elected officials who realize that "children don't vote"?

These questions have increasingly been the focus of debate around the world. The children's rights movement, begun in the early part of the last century, has been an effort by government organizations, advocacy groups, academics, lawyers, lawmakers, and judges to construct a system of laws and policies that enhance and protect the lives of children.

For some the cause of children's rights has wrongfully been viewed as simply a war of youth liberation or overcoming adult oppression of young people. However, freedom from parental authority, control, and discipline has never been a major theme of serious children's rights advocates. Most groups have focused on child victims of abuse and neglect and how government agencies can better protect them. The most active advocates for children are not engaged in a drive to secure children's independence from adult supervision, but rather are addressing such issues as improving a country's system of enforcing child support obligations, preventing child sexual exploitation, and helping assure that children receive adequate education and health care.

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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaPregnancy & Parenthood