December 14th 2019


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY A myriad transformations effected by one birth

VICTORIAN POLITICS Andrews hacks away at another way of life and source of jobs

CANBERRA OBSERVED Labor must own up to why it took the thrashing it got

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Hong Kong voters reject Beijing and its proxies

LIFE AND FAMILY On the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, how are we doing?

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Brexit: Quintessentially British party politics

OBITUARY Fr Paul Stenhouse: The thoughtful editor for the 'ordinary' reader

OBITUARY Vale David Milne, paragon of loyalty and perseverance

ASIAN AFFAIRS Taiwan and Hong Kong: Pawns in a bigger game

U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS How and why the U.S. should stop financing China's bad actors

HUMOUR You can't stop the music, Paddy

MUSIC 2020 foresight: A musical odyssey

CLASSIC CINEMA North by Northwest: The immaculately produced nightmare

BOOK REVIEW Truncated truths for post-truth times

BOOK REVIEW Food for a summer immersion program

POETRY

LETTERS

THE QUEEN V PELL: A blight on the whole of the criminal justice system

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Johnson to take UK out of the EU on January 31

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LIFE AND FAMILY
On the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, how are we doing?


by Terri M. Kelleher

News Weekly, December 14, 2019

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC). The anniversary was marked by a three-day conference in Geneva in November.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the CRC in November 1989 and it came into force on September 2, 1990. Australia ratified the Convention in December 1990, which means that Australia has agreed to take action to make sure all children in Australia can enjoy their rights under the Convention.

In September 2019, Australia appeared before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (the Committee) to answer questions about how it is working to advance the rights of children in Australia. The Committee provided Australia with a “scorecard” of how Australia is protecting the rights of the child, which includes a range of recommendations to improve its performance.

Among its recommendations is:

  • To promptly take measures to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases, establishing targets and deadlines to phase out the domestic use of coal and its export, and accelerate the transition to renewable energy.

Will this really improve the health and wellbeing of children? To phase out use of coal and its export, which will undermine the economic development of this country on which modern health care is built? It is precisely modern health care that is responsible for sending infant mortality to an historical low, and virtually eliminating life-threatening or crippling diseases such as polio, diphtheria, tetanus and measles.

This recommendation is typical of the Developed World thinking of those so privileged that they have to find dangers to worry about rather than seek solutions to the real, on-the-ground threats to children’s safety and wellbeing.

How does Australia measure up in protecting the rights of the child under Article 7.1 of the Covenant? Article 7.1 says: “The child … shall have the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.”

What about children conceived by IVF by donor sperm or by way of surrogacy? It is not that long ago in Australia that children of sperm donors were lobbying to have access to the identity of their sperm donor fathers. They had been deprived of even knowing the identity of their fathers. Surrogacy also deprives a child of being cared for by at least one of its parents and perhaps even of knowledge of the identity of one parent.

What about cases where young people have been encouraged, advised or assisted to leave home when parents did not support them in identifying as transgender or consent to them taking cross-sex hormones to transition gender? There is evidence that parents are being shut out of the discussion on whether their child is transgender. This is surely a breach of Article 7.1, that children should be cared for by their parents.

When parents are shut out of such life-changing decisions about their child’s health and welfare, the child is deprived of his right to his parents’ care.

Article 16 reads: “No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy …” and that “the child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference”.

What about boys using girl’s toilets? How is a law such as the Sex Discrimination Act, which recognises gender identity as a protected attribute and therefore allows a boy who identifies as a girl to access girls’ toilets, a law that protects the girl child against such interference with her privacy? Is it not in breach of the Covenant?

Article 29 recognises the child’s right to education, to respect his parents and their culture and his own cultural identity, language and values; which would, as a child, be those of his parents.

How is teaching children in schools that he can be transgender educating the child to respect his parent’s culture where this is opposed to the convictions or values of his parents?

And how is this meeting the requirement of Article 19, which says that “states parties shall take all appropriate … educational measures to protect the child from all forms of … mental violence, injury or abuse”?

What about “mental violence, injury” to a child who understands transgender as meaning there is no such thing as boys or girls? There has already been a Canadian case where a six-year-old girl suffered great distress when told this by her teacher.

Article 33 requires states parties to the Covenant to “take all appropriate measures … to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances”. How is this right protected when, as in Victoria, a “safe” injecting room is operating next to a primary school, with all the attendant dangers of children finding syringes or even discarded or dropped drugs around this facility?

How are we protecting children from drug use when the legalisation of marijuana, which would make it more widely and freely available, is being proposed in a number of states in Australia?

Article 34 provides that states parties to the Covenant “undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse”. The use of explicit graphics in sex-education curricula (see, for example, Victoria’s Catching on Early primary-level sex-education curriculum, pages 53, 87–91 and 105–108), and exploring sexual desires and relationships in secondary schools could be called “sexual abuse”. Aren’t such curricula breaches of Article 34?

Article 6 says that states parties to the Covenant must “recognise that every child has the inherent right to life” and “ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child”. How do laws that allow abortion “recognise” this right? Every abortion deprives an unborn child of its very life and, in being deprived of its life, it is also deprived of all the other rights recognised by the CRC.

We need to change the lens or focus when thinking about children’s rights. As the child is vulnerable, lacking life experience and the psychological and physical maturity to be able to make decisions for himself, the child has the right to be looked after and protected from danger, violence, exploitation or corruption of the mind or heart by responsible adults. The first adults naturally charged to do so are surely the child’s parents.

The child is not a mini adult with the capacity to make important life-changing decisions in his own best interests. Treating the child as a mini adult leaves him vulnerable to abuse or exploitation by those who would manipulate his decisions, even with the best of intentions, for their own ends.

A child’s parents, biological or adoptive, are the adults who are most likely to have the child’s best interests and long-term welfare at heart. After all, they are invested in seeing the child grow to maturity and be able to make sound decisions for himself.

In this article, “his”, “him” and “himself”, where occurring, include “her”, “her” and “herself”.




























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