Sunday, November 16, 2008

Children's Bill of Rights

Reader Melodie has brought to my attention a bill (S2334) currently before the NJ State Senate entitled "New Jersey Children's Bill of Rights". If passed, it would encode the wording of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which became an international treaty in September of 1990. While of pressing importance to parents in NJ, President Elect Obama is expected to sign the treaty.

Here are some of the provisions of the bill:

  • To live in a safe, healthy, and nurturing environment, and to know and be cared for by the child's parent or legal guardian, except in circumstances when the child's removal from his parent or legal guardian is in the child's best interests;
  • To be free from physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional abuse, neglect, cruelty, and any form of discipline that humiliates, demeans, or inflicts unnecessary mental or physical suffering or pain

These are certainly noble ideals and I am sure that the crafters of this bill are well intentioned. I certainly take no issue with the idea that children should be raised in a safe nurturing environment. Physical, sexual, psychological and emotional abuse, neglect and cruelty are evil when directed at other adults - much less children.

The problem I have is that the language in the bill subjective by nature. No hard definition is given for cruelty. What amount of pain rises to the level of "unnecessary" - is a slap on the wrist unnecessary? Are parents who choose to educate their children at home neglectful?

These are not decisions I would entrust to the NJ judiciary - and in the event the UN treaty the bill is based on is ratified, I would not entrust our federal judiciary either - much less the type of judges Presiden Obama would appoint.

UPDATE: If you live in New Jersey and wish to contact your state legislators, go here.


  1. "To be free from... any form of discipline that humiliates, demeans, or inflicts unnecessary mental or physical suffering or pain."

    I don't think the wording is subjective. The bill clearly states any form of discipline that humiliates or demeans. In my opinion, it directly speaks to the issue of spanking. I think everyone that has ever had a spanking would agree that it is humiliating and demeaning. What does this mean for the future of discpline for our children?

    The passing of this bill, I believe, will be the precursor for denying parents the right to spank their children. The Bible says, spare the rod, spoil the child. I think there is plenty of evidence in our day and age of what happens to children when they are not disciplined. The emphasis of our culture on building a childs self esteem has led to a whole generation of children who feel entitled to the things that past generations have worked very hard to earn.

    Children today have no concept of failure. The new term of 'helicopter parent' has been developed for parents who continue to hover over their adult children for fear that someone will not treat them with the dignity they have been taught to deserve. I heard a story where a parent actually called their adult child's employer because they didn't feel that their child deserved the performance appraisal they got.

    This bill is only going to perpetuate the problems of this generation of young people into the next generation. This bill is at the top of a very dangerous and slippery slope of removing the right of the parent to rear their children. It is only a hop skip and a jump away from taking away the parent's right to pass along their belief in God to their children and their right to rear their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Anything that could damage a child's fragile self esteem could be considered emotional abuse. The Bible doesn't teach self esteem, it teaches us to esteem others better than ourselves.

    This bill is very dangerous to what is left of traditional family values in our country. I pray daily for our country. Every day it seems that I am bombarded with yet another far left ideology that Obama hopes to enact when he takes office.