Professor Woodhouse Explores the History of Children’s Rights in New Book

Published: September 8th, 2008

Category: Feature, News

Barbara WoodhouseFor one of the leaders in human rights in the world, the United States is overlooking one group that has trouble speaking for itself.

In a new book, Barbara Bennett Woodhouse, David H. Levin Chair in Family Law and founding director of the Center on Children and Families at the University of Florida, argues that America has neglected the importance of children’s rights.

“The United States is alone in refusing to ratify the CRC (Children’s Rights Convention), the most rapidly and universally accepted of all human rights charters,” writes Woodhouse in Hidden in Plain Sight: The Tragedy of Children’s Rights from Ben Franklin to Lionel Tate, which was published on April 23.

In the book, Woodhouse brings up the story of Lionel Tate, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the death of a young playmate when he was just 12 years old. She also argues that abused and neglected children in state custody have fewer rights than accused criminals.

“My objective in Hidden in Plain Sight was to reach a wide audience of Americans who care about children,” Woodhouse said. “I wanted to use stories of real children, and real children’s advocates (including many of our own faculty and students) to combat the notion that children have no use for rights and can’t be trusted to shape their own destinies.”

Woodhouse points out that children’s rights should be more important to the United States because there are so many fundamental connections between children’s rights and American values. She argues that opponents of children’s rights on both the Left and the Right see it as a threat to parental authority.

Woodhouse’s mission for the book is the get America to understand that children’s rights are as important as other human rights.

“When I presented Hidden in Plain Sight to 600 advocates for children at the National Association of Counsel for Children it was clear that this audience felt it was speaking directly to their own experiences and to those of their young client,” Woodhouse said.