President Obama is seeking to rectify a longstanding blemish on our country’s children’s rights record. Currently, the U.S. and Somalia are the only two U.N. countries who have refused to ratify the global Rights of Child treaty. But the administration is conducting a legal review of the treaty, and leading Democrats are pushing for the Senate to ratify it.
Why the tardiness in joining a 20-year-old treaty that guarantees human rights for children? It has to do with America’s longstanding commitment to corporal punishment. In contrast to many European countries which have outlawed physical abuse, it remains legal for American parents to hit, paddle, spank, and whip their children.
The Rights of Child pact is controversial in the U.S. because not only does it state that children have a right to education and health care, but also to be free from violence. Signing the treaty won’t solve domestic violence overnight, but it will be a step in the right direction toward acknowledging that corporal punishment is ineffective and abusive.
Furthermore, acknowledging that all children have the right to health care could help pave the way for solving the crisis of uninsured kids in the U.S.