Thursday, March 25, 2010

Parental Rights Under Fire

What if I told you that the government thinks they know better than parents how your children are raised? What if I told you that if your child wanted to do something completely against what you felt was best for them, that you were in danger of having them removed from your custody and placed in the foster care system? What if I told you that the United Nations thinks that children should have full decision making rights as if they were already adults - no matter the age?

You'd think I was nuts right?

Sadly, I'm not.

The United Nations has a treaty called the Convention on the Rights of the Child that over 190 countries have ratified and made law. While it may be well-intentioned, the consequences of it are far reaching and potentially devastating to our children.

In the 1980s the state of Washington had passed a new state law protecting the rights of children - similar in application to what may happen if the Rights of the Child were made law here in the USA. Here is an one case that ended up in court...

In the early 1980s, a landmark parental rights case reached the Washington State Supreme Court. The case involved 13-year-old Sheila Marie Sumey, whose parents were alarmed when they found evidence of their daughter's participation in illegal drug activity and escalating sexual involvement. Their response was to act immediately to cut off the negative influences in their daughter's life by grounding her.

But when Sheila went to her school counselors complaining about her parent's actions, she was advised that she could be liberated from her parents because there was "conflict between parent and child." Listening to the advice she had received, Sheila notified Child Protective Services (CPS) about her situation. She was subsequently removed from her home and placed in foster care.

Her parents, desperate to get their daughter back, challenged the actions of the social workers in court. They lost. Even though the judge found that Sheila's parents had enforced reasonable rules in a proper manner, the state law nevertheless gave CPS the authority to split apart the Sumey family and take Sheila away.

If that one didn't scare you, maybe this court case will...

A West Virginia mother was shocked when a local circuit judge and a family court judge ordered her to share custody of her four-year-old daughter with two of the girl’s babysitters. Referring to the sitters as "psychological co-parents," the justices first awarded full custody to them, only permitting the mother to visit her daughter four times a week at McDonalds. Eventually she was granted primary custody, but forced to continue to share her daughter with the sitters.

When her case finally reached the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in October 2007, the beleaguered mother was relieved to finally be granted full custody of her daughter.

In their October 25 opinion Supreme Court justices wrote that they were "deeply troubled by the utter disregard" for the mother's rights. One justice referred to the mother’s right as the “paramount right in the world."

Chief Justice Robin Davis summed up the case in one simple question."Why does a natural parent have to prove fitness when she has never been found unfit?" he asked.

Parental rights in America are under fire. The UN Rights of the Child has become law throughout much of the world. In fact, America and Somalia are the only two countries who have not yet ratified this treaty and Somalia - which doesn't even have much of a government right now - is planning to change that. Let me point out this as well...the United States has agreed to this treaty and former President Bill Clinton actually signed it. However, it will not become law until Congress ratifies it.

How does an international treaty become law in the United States? The US Constitution states treaties signed by Congress become "the law of the land." Most family law - those governing parental rights and children - are state laws. And that it the biggest point I want to make. A treaty would not necessarily change any state laws but it would become "the law of the land" and supersede state law! This would make this international treaty superior to our own US Constitution!

The only way to secure parental rights in the United States is to add an amendment to the Constitution. is fighting to do that. Here is the amendment they are proposing:


The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right.

Neither the United States nor any state shall infringe upon this right without demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served.

No treaty may be adopted nor shall any source of international law be employed to supersede, modify, interpret, or apply to the rights guaranteed by this article.

While many homeschooling parents are concerned (see Section 1), I really feel this is an issue for all parents. I do not want the government coming in to to tell me I can't even ground my child for misbehaving. I do not want the government telling me how my children should be educated. I do not want the government telling me anything in regards to how I raise my children.

While I understand the intentions of the Rights of the Child, there are laws already on the books that protect children. They need to simply be enforced. Adding this treaty adds nothing. The only thing it will end up doing, in my personal opinion, is making parents federal criminals for going against anything the government wants for children no matter if parents agree with it or not.

If you are interested in protecting your rights as parents to raise your children in the way you feel is best, consider signing the online petition to become a citizen co-sponsor of the bill to add the amendment as well as be added to the email list for notifications. does not mail anything to you - they will communicate via email only.

image borrowed from here

I also urge you to contact your Congressional representatives. Let them know you are against ratification of this treaty. There should also be a resolution coming up very soon - as in the next week or so - that would effectively block this from being voted on this year. Ask them to please vote for this. If you live in Maine, I'm making it easy for you, click HERE to find contact info for Senators Snowe and Collins and Rep. Michaud. I also recommend reading this article for a more thorough look at the issue.

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