Children

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Reading Assignment for Module 13

The reading assignment in AMST418D for the remainder of the semester consists of the following: a chapter (“Protection of Children Under the Law”) from a 1977 book entitled All Our Children: The American Family Under Pressure, and a work of legal history, recounting the events leading to a landmark Supreme Court decision (in re Gault) in 1967 that extended some rights of due process to the juvenile court system. Both readings bear on the question of rights for children and why children should be treated differently before the law—if, indeed, they should be.

All Our Children: The American Family Under Pressure (1977) was an ambitious effort by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, through its Council on Children, to address a number of “extremely difficult” questions. These included the question of the rights children have; the question “Who is responsible for protecting those rights?” and a further question about “how the nation could develop a wholly new attitude toward children” (x). Keniston, a psychologist and author of the well-regarded study The Uncommitted: Alienated Youth in American Society (1965), was enlisted to lead the project for the Carnegie Corporation. Broadly speaking, the Council wanted to take more account of children’s rights than was currently the case in the mid-1970s.

Chapter 9, “Protection of Children Under the Law,” addresses children’s rights under six headings: 1) children’s rights in relation to family in “extreme situations” such as when the state is called upon to intervene “to protect the child from anticipated harm at the hands of the parents;” (2) the rights and protections due children being raised in institutions; (3) children’s rights when disagreements arise between parents and children over health care or education; (4) children’s rights in school; (5) children’s rights with regard to environmental or health hazards present in society to which they have not consented or may be...
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