If you’re a parent, you’re probably too busy doing the day-to-day work of raising your children to worry about an international treaty that could actually undermine your authority over them.
But if you’ve ever insisted that your teenager drag himself out of bed on a Sunday morning to attend church with the family, or required him to find a part-time job to pay for the increase in your car insurance, or – heaven forbid – if you’ve ever spanked a young child for an act of willful disobedience, there are folks who’d like to override your parental judgment.
Folks like President Obama, in fact.
The issue of parental rights is at the heart of the ongoing debate over the US’s failure to ratify the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Mr. Obama thinks it’s a travesty that the US and Somalia – a country not known as a beacon of human rights – are the only two nations that haven’t ratified this treaty. Not only does he support its intrusions into our national sovereignty on behalf of children, he’s openly embarrassed to be on the short list with Somalia.
Up to now, it’s been a worried American homeschool community that most vocally opposes the CRC. That’s because the treaty clearly places responsibility for the education of children in the hands of the federal government. Such a mandate would certainly threaten the freedom of states to allow, and of parents to choose, homeschooling as an option to educate their children.
But it’s not just homeschooling parents who ought to be nervous about the CRC. We all should because the language of the treaty – which would supersede all American law other than the Constitution – radically changes the authority structure between parents, children and the state. In short, in line after line, it applies the standard of “the best interests of the child” to determine what’s permissible and what isn’t.
For example, the treaty creates "the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion." So if your child doesn’t want to go to a religious school, the law would favor his preference, not your desire to instill your faith.
It prohibits "arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy," which means you’d better not snoop in your son’s pockets while sorting the laundry. This could literally be illegal, and too bad if you find something to set off your parental alarm.