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This week, the House Committee on Families, Children and Seniors heard testimony relating to a piece of legislation that would empower parents and protect children...or would it endanger children and regulate family relationships?
House Concurrent Resolution 11 would urge the United States Congress to begin the ratification process of a Constitutional amendment enshrining ‘parental rights’ as supreme while overriding all considerations of international laws and practices.
As the we testified before the Committee, the ACLU of Michigan is concerned that the so-called ‘Parental Rights Amendment,' sponsored by Representative Agema, is a thinly veiled attempt to undermine international human rights treaties that protect children from abuse and exploitation.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was written to curb the most egregious abuses of the children's human rights, encouraging its signatories to protect children from sex trafficking, slavery and abuse.
Although the United States played an integral role in crafting the language in the Convention on the Rights of the Child under the Regan Administration, we are one of only two United Nations member states to not ratify the Convention.
Why would anyone oppose a move to protect children from these horrors?
By ratifying the Convention, the United States would be encouraged to ask some tough questions about the way we treat children in country. The Convention would promote discussions about controversial policies and laws impacting our youth, from examining educational inequality amongst our nation's children to reconsidering juvenile life without parole sentences.
By attempting to sidestep this important conversation by preventing the Convention from being ratified, legislators are doing a disservice to our children.
Not only that, but the so-called "Parental Rights Amendment" could also make it far more difficult for law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute suspected child abuse and to protect children in abusive families.
Rep. Agema and others who spoke in support of House Concurrent Resolution 11 were misleading, misrepresenting both the content of the UN Convention and minimizing the plight of exploited children in the United States and elsewhere.
In fact, several representatives from extremist organizations testified that the ratification of the UN convention would prevent parents from parenting their children, which is patently false. The Convention of the Rights of the Child encourages nations to aide parents and communities in the healthy rearing of children.
Our legislators should at least be honest about the legislation they are promoting, especially when their actions could impact the lives of children and their families.
For more information on the ACLU’s nationwide fight to protect children’s rights, visit: aclu.org/human-rights/childrens-rights