If you’re a parent, you are probably too busy doing the day-to-day work of raising your children to worry about an international treaty that could actually undermine your authority over them.
But if you’ve ever insisted that your teenager drag himself out of bed on a Sunday morning to attend church with the family, or required him to find a part-time job to pay for the increase in your car insurance, or — heaven forbid — if you’ve ever spanked a young child for an act of willful disobedience, there are folks who would like to override your parental judgment.
Folks like President Obama, in fact.
The issue of parental rights is at the heart of the ongoing debate over the U.S.’s failure to ratify the U.N.’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Mr. Obama thinks it’s a travesty that the U.S. and Somalia — a country not known as a beacon of human rights — are the only two nations that haven’t ratified this treaty. Not only does he support its intrusions into our national sovereignty on behalf of children, he is openly embarrassed to be on the short list with Somalia.
Up to now, it’s been a worried American home-school community that most vocally opposes the CRC. That’s because the treaty clearly places responsibility for the education of children in the hands of the federal government. Such a mandate would certainly threaten the freedom of states to allow, and of parents to choose, home-schooling as an option to educate their children.
But it’s not just home-schooling parents who ought to be nervous about the CRC. We all should, because the language of the treaty — which would supersede all American law other than the Constitution — radically changes the authority structure among parents, children and the state. In short, in line after line, it applies the standard of “the best interests of the child” to determine what’s permissible and what isn’t.
For example, the treaty creates “the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” So if your child doesn’t want to go to a religious school, the law would favor his preference, not your desire to instill your faith.
It prohibits “arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy,” which means you’d better not snoop in your son’s pockets while sorting the laundry. This could literally be illegal, and too bad if you find something to set off your parental alarm.
In fact, in Scotland, a CRC nation, a pamphlet for Scottish children explaining how they are helped by the treaty says, “In Scotland, the law recognises that your parents should normally be the people who care for you, if it’s the best thing for you.”
That’s very different from a provision that might say, “You have the right to the protection and care of your parents and can only be removed from your family if you are the victim of abuse or neglect.” The reason it doesn’t read this way is because that’s not what the CRC intends.
And who decides what’s “the best thing”? Take a guess.
It makes sense that the U.S. stands nearly alone in refusing to ratify this treaty, since we live in the safest, most prosperous, most desirable country in which to be a child.
The CRC makes sense in places where girls can be sold into marriage at age 10, or where children are routinely victims of the sex trade, or of child labor abuse.
But in the U.S., the only logical reason to sign the CRC is to expand, through that new “international order” the president mentioned this past weekend, the role of the federal government into the daily lives and decisions of American parents and families.
Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, has introduced SR 519, opposing ratification of the CRC. He hopes to find 34 co-sponsors and thereby signal to the president there’s no need to send the treaty to the Senate for advice and consent because it wouldn’t pass. This is the end-run play; the game winner is a Parental Rights Amendment to the Constitution.