Children's rights: in the name of the child

Roche, Jeremy (1995). Children's rights: in the name of the child. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 17(3) pp. 281–299.



Children's rights literature has problematized the imagery of family privacy, the operation of the welfare principle, and the child's participation in decision-making processes, and, recently, has questioned the relationship between rights and culture. This literature has revealed how languages of right as well as welfare have been and can be deployed to deny and silence. Here, in order to assess the degree to which the child can be considered a social participant, I consider the extent to which the law recognizes and respects the autonomy rights of the child - the child as legal actor. However, concern for the child's autonomy rights in theory must not blind us to the observation that in social practice there is no single voice of childhood: if the law is able to hear only the conventional the voices of outsiders will be lost. The question of rights and social difference is central: in plural society the languages of right carry very different meanings and consequences. None the less the language of children's rights - and the mobilization around rights - is important in that it carries within it the possibility of the new and the discordant. It is thus important to consider how best to conduct inclusive conversations for change - this is a question of strategy.

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