The Rights of Children in America - The Differing Perspectives

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1979

Publication Title

Poly Law Review


United States, legal rights, children


What rights should children have? What should be the focus of attention in protecting them? Surprisingly, there remains wide divergence of opinion in America on these fundamental questions. Consideration of such opinion should be of some interest to the British, concerned as they are with the state of their own young, in this International Year of the Child.

It has be suggested that there are at least four schools of thought in the United States with respect to children's rights. I shall look at the four - the Needs Manifesto School, the Due Process Advocates, the Family Welfarists and Children's Liberationists. While perceptions differ, each viewpoint has something to contribute. The first school emphasizes basic health and psychological needs of youth; the second underscores the importance of counsel and due process before a child is sent to an institution or has custody transferred; the third stresses the traditional role of the family in nurturing and socializing the young; and the fourth reminds us that a child is an individual, not simply a member of a special group historically swaddled in myths.





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