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Lecture 17

HREQ 2010 Lecture 17: February 27

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Human Rights and Equity Studies
HREQ 2010
Paul Brienza

What are Children? -according to some parliamentary studies conducted in the past 5 years, they claim that 1 in 5 Canadian children live in poverty, thus they are not reaping the full benefits of a Canadian lifestyle -some of these benefits include their access or right to education Children as Property -they were not accorded some special status, tutelage, or care over them -dominant form of seeing children: traditionally, children have been seen as the property of their parents: mainstream opinion of most people, if not all people in society -this was legally sanctioned and recognized -under many ancient legal codes, like Roman law, fathers had the right of life and death over his offspring -in that tradition, it argues that, fathers have power over children and women -as in the case of other forms of property, the owner can do as he wishes with their property, and while it may not have happened often in practice, this was a choice of life or death ^-if the child was resisting, the right of execution, which was the ultimate punishment, was available -it was the prerogative of the owner -patriarchy: not merely the possession and ownership or control of women, but also of children -thus, children were not considered “persons” under the law: no child could request the assistance of the state (virtual complete purview of the father) -legal relationship -premised on the basic notion that the family rules itself, which requires a ruler as well: fathers possess absolute powers over the members of the family ^-they have a particular role in the family, which is of property -the only other source of protection is religious sources -children could be sold as property -the beginning of the modern age marked the emergence of new views of children, particularly one of children as helpless objects of charity, along with the growing role of the state taking greater interest in what is happening to children Children as “Helpless Objects of Charity” -if children were not seen as property they were most often seen as “objects of charity.” -this attitude sees children as helpless and unaware and requiring of the protection of the state or charity agencies -the idea of the “juvenile.”: the law claimed a special status for children -large groups of untended children involved in crimes: becomes a problem as the modern world develops Children as “wards of the state.” “Patria potestas.”: the state takes on the power of the father -fundamental role of the family -charitable attitude that children must be taken care of: -attitudes begin to change from children as property to children as a phenomenon -combination of punishing the criminal behaviour of children, as well as taking a charitable role or a charitable line of thought towards these children -they become untended, become wards of the state -the special case of child development -they become under the tutelage of the state, as the state takes on the role of caring and educating -the state takes on a much more significant role -the idea of the family as being the sight of the absolute rule fades as the state is involved -children become a social problem: children are a distinct category of individuals with special rights -they occupy a specific place, psychologically speaking, in the development of human being -there is a possessive role that parents still invoke, but there is also the state as the ultimate guardian, thus making old forms of abuse less tolerable -they play the overarching role of protecting the children -the state has a role in education, both its management and regulation, which was previously a religious preserve -all social scientists recognize that children are more vulnerable because of their development -children are “becoming who they are” and, as a result, are prone to manipulation and control Children and Human Rights: -teenager is a new invention: 1900s -generational conflict that is associated with being a teenager -the “Convention on the Rights of Child” argues against these two understandings of what a child is -they are unique beings that require a slightly altered idea of human rights -some of the premises laid out in the Convention on the Rights of Child: 1) Children are individuals 2) Children start life as dependent beings: this is particularly the case for humans, as they are, from their birth, dependent creatures..they do not possess the capacity to survive on their own -there is this component of care that needs to be taken into account 3) The actions, or inactions, of governments impact children more strongly than any other group in society: children are often the most vulnerable group of people due to various reasons 4) Children’s views are rarely heard in the political process 5) Changes in society may have a disproportionately, and often negative, impact on children: this applies to malnourishment, food, healthcare, etc..these changes can affect children disproportionately 6) The healthy development of children is crucial to the future well-being of any society 7) The costs of “failing children” are huge to any society: it
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