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Ideology Will Alienate Children From Families

media release

20 February 2008

Visiting Children’s Rights Advocates’ Ideology Will Alienate Children From Their Families

The Children’s Commissioner has announced that advocates Katherine Covell and Brian Howe are visiting New Zealand later this week to promote the Children’s Commission’s agenda of educating children about their rights.

“Although well-intentioned, this agenda is likely to lead to family conflict and dysfunction, as children come home armed with knowledge about their rights, but lacking an understanding of their responsibilities,” says Greg Fleming, Maxim Institute CEO.

“The goal of educating children as young as ten about their rights, as if they were fully mature citizens, is the latest step in the human rights movement. Although fundamental human rights can help safeguard children and help ensure that where families are malfunctioning children are protected, the human rights movement has gone far beyond this, with the result that children have become politicised. Children are no longer seen as vulnerable and therefore requiring the protection of a family, but instead as autonomous agents capable of self-determination. This puts children in a position they simply aren’t equipped to handle,” says Greg Fleming.

“The education curriculum developed by Covell and Howe does children a disservice by regarding them as simply the same as adult citizens and as such sees the state as responsible for informing them of and delivering their rights.”

The curriculum includes scenarios asking a ten year old to speculate on whether smacking a two year old having a tantrum or suspending a boy who kisses a classmate is a more serious form of abuse. In another exercise children are asked to comment on whether children should be removed from their parents if they let the house get “extremely dirty” and don’t give their children “any rules to live by.” “This approach could encourage children to see every restriction on their behaviour or failure to meet their expectations as a rights violation,” says Fleming.

“The curriculum raises some useful issues, for example taking care of the environment, child labour and poverty. However, by framing these issues in a rights context it sets children against their parents and ultimately against their families, encouraging division and an unwillingness to compromise or consider responsibilities,” says Greg Fleming.

“Clearly, we need to do more to protect our children from abuse, but this is not the answer. We need to be more sensitive to the maturity of children; they are not miniature adults and shouldn’t be treated as such.”


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