There’s something that I’ve heard many times in the last few years, usually from people who fundamentally disagree with the way I raise my children: “Children have a right to ____.” (Fill in, prenatal care, vaccines, a hospital birth, or whatever you please.)
This worries me.
Children certainly have rights. And they need to be protected. But it seems that this line of thinking is being extended further and further until what a child’s rights are is being decided by whatever the mainstream feels is the “right” answer for all. I don’t think that’s correct at all. So today I’m presenting what I think children’s rights really are.
It is important to recognize a child’s rights. And we have organizations like Child Services to intervene with a child’s rights are not being met. But sometimes people have gotten a bit overzealous in their definition of a child’s rights, and are actually encroaching on a parent’s right to make decisions for his/her child. Here is what I think a child’s rights really are:
1) Right to life — No one can kill a child for any reason. This unfortunately doesn’t extend to abortion (it absolutely baffles me that people who support abortion also think that parents don’t have the right to choose medical care for their child after, say, the second trimester of pregnancy).
2) Freedom from harm/abuse — No one can beat, abuse, or hurt a child in any way. This includes physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
3) Freedom from neglect — Children have the right to be loved, cared for, provided for. This means access to food, people who keep them safe, etc. How they accomplish feeding and safety is up to the individual family.
4) Access to medical care — If a child is ill or hurt, they have a right to access some form of medical treatment. This does not mean it must be a mainstream doctor or hospital; whatever type of care is most appropriate, as deemed by the parents (unless a child is being neglected or on the brink of death due to the parents’ choices). Only in extreme cases can anyone else dictate which care is most appropriate.
That’s about all. Any other “rights” are entirely choices that the parents must make. Parents must choose which prenatal care to seek, where to give birth, what medical treatments (especially when we are talking about preventative care) to administer or allow, what to feed their children, where to send them to school, and so on. Children do not have an inherent ‘right’ to receive a certain upbringing!
That is, the government does not have the right to say that children must see an OB, be born in hospitals, receive vaccines, be breastfed (try mandating that and see how far you get…), attend public school, etc. These things should be available…for those who want them. But they should not be forced on any child.
It is the parent’s right to choose for their own child, bottom line, barring abuse or neglect.
(Abuse or neglect meaning that the child’s life or well-being is in immediate danger. No, you cannot define ‘refusing a vaccine’ as neglect, any more than you can define ‘not breastfeeding’ as neglect.)
It worries me when people think that ‘right to have access to’ (which of course, children do have the right to have access…if their parents choose these things) means that the child must have x, y, or z…regardless of what their parents believe. Somehow the child’s ‘rights’ supercede the parents’ wishes…even when there is no threat to health or well-being! How can we trust parents to have and raise children at all if we want to undermine their intelligence, thoughtfulness, and decision-making power? It is simply unacceptable.
Perhaps I’m “overreacting.” But there have been cases that seriously concern me. There are constantly raids on raw milk dairies (without reports of illness, nor illegal operating procedures). A few families have had their children taken away for choosing alternative medical treatments over conventional. I’ve even heard of a woman being forced into a repeat c-section! When these illegal measures are being used to forced people into choosing the ‘right’ answer, it’s going too far.
Choices lie with individual families. Period.
What do you think? What “rights” do children have, and why?