The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Forgotten History of the White House Children's Conferences, 1909-1971

Author:Maria Grahn-Farley
Position:Visiting Professor, University of Massachusetts School of Law-Dartmouth
Pages:307-376
SUMMARY

I. Introduction - II. A forgotten history and opposition to the CRC - III. A call to reinstate the white house conferences - IV. The White House children‘s conferences - V. The CRC - VI. The right to life and survival, the right to guidance and protection, and the right to respect and to be heard - VII. The right to life and survival - A. The Right to Health - 1. Mental Health - 2. Social... (see full summary)

 
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The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the
Forgotten History of the White House Children’s
Conferences, 19091971*
Maria Grahn-Farley**
I. INTRODUCTION ............................................................................ 309
II. A FORGOTTEN HISTORY AND OPPOSITION TO THE CRC ............. 314
III. A CALL TO REINSTATE THE WHITE HOUSE CONFERENCES ........ 320
IV. THE WHITE HOUSE CHILDRENS CONFERENCES ........................ 320
V. THE CRC ..................................................................................... 326
VI. THE RIGHT TO LIFE AND SURVIVAL, THE RIGHT TO
GUIDANCE AND PROTECTION, AND THE RIGHT TO RESPECT
AND TO BE HEARD ....................................................................... 328
VII. THE RIGHT TO LIFE AND SURVIVAL ............................................ 328
A. The Right to Health ......................................................... 331
1. Mental Health ....................................................... 336
2. Social Security and an Adequate Standard of
Living in the CRC .................................................. 337
3. Social Security and an Adequate Standard of
Living in the White House Conferences .............. 338
B. The Right to Education……………… ............................. 343
1. Education in the White House Conferences ........ 345
2. The Mental Health of the Child in a Social
Context ................................................................... 348
3. Precursor to Brown v. Board of Education .......... 349
* Copyright Maria Grahn-Farley 2011.
** Visiting Professor, University of Massachusetts School of Law Dartmouth; Associate
Professor, Albany Law School; former National Board Member of Rädda Barnen (Save the
ChildrenSweden). I would like to thank all of the organizers of A Critical Juncture: Human
Rights & U.S. Standing in the World Under the Obama Administration, the 2010 symposium
hosted by Tr ansnational Law & Contemporary Problems. I would like to thank Jane Bestor for
her encouragement and support. I owe Adrien K. Wing many thanks; she is a role model for so
many progressive scholars. Lynnette Van Wyngarden has been an excellent articles editor and I
thank her. I would also like to thank Ajantha Subramanian, Daria Roithmayr, and Vince Brown.
I also owe thanks to Felipe Farley. Finally, a big thanks to Anthony Paul Farley.
Email: mgrahnfarley@sjd.law.harvard.edu
308 TRANSNATIONAL LAW & CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS [Vol. 20:307
4. After Brown v. Board of Education ...................... 349
5. Education in the White House Conferences and the
CRC Compared ...................................................... 350
C. The Right to Rest and Spare Time ................................. 351
VIII. THE RIGHT TO PROTECTION AND GUIDANCE ............................... 354
A. The Right to Be Protected from Discrimination ............ 355
1. The Shift from Studying Race to Studying
Racism .................................................................... 357
B. The Right to Family ........................................................ 358
1. The Right of the Child to be Safe and to Feel
Secure ..................................................................... 360
2. The CRC and the Right to Protection When the
Family Fails ........................................................... 361
3. The Family in the White House Conferences ...... 362
4. The Child Outside of Her or His Family: The Right
to Be Protected from Exploitation ........................ 363
C. The White House Conferences and the Right to Be
Protected from Exploitation ............................................ 364
1. Child Labor ............................................................ 364
2. Narcotics and Drugs .............................................. 365
3. Armed Conflict ....................................................... 365
4. Juvenile Justice ..................................................... 366
5. The Right to Be Protected from Exploitation in the
White House Conferences and the CRC
Compared ............................................................... 366
IX. THE RIGHT TO BE RESPECTED AND TO BE HEARD ..................... 367
A. The Right to Be Heard..................................................... 369
1. The Limitations of Article 12 ................................ 371
2. The Distinction Between the Right to Participation
and Decision-Making ............................................ 371
3. Child Participation in the White House
Conferences ............................................................ 373
4. Child Participation in the White House Conferences
and the CRC Compared ........................................ 374
X. CONCLUSION ............................................................................... 374
Summer 2011] U.N. CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHIL D 309
I. INTRODUCTION
Nothing illuminates more searchingly the character of a State than the
methods it util izes in the upbringing of its young. The progress which any
nation makes, or fails to make, is faithfully recorded in the history of the
rearing of its children.‖
1
The United States took a significant step toward normalizing its
international human rights relations in November 2010 by adopting the
Child Rights Resolution.
2
The Child Rights Resolution is a step toward U.S.
ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (―CRC‖).
3
The
CRC is the most ratified human rights treaty in the world. The United States
and Somalia are the only two countries that are not parties to the CRC.
4
The United States was once a leader in child rights, but that history, the
history of the White House Ch ildren‘s Confe rences, 1909 1971, has been all
but forgotten. Ratification of the CRC would give the United States a chance
to reconnect with the forgotten history of the White House Children‘s
Conferences. The CRC fits well with the policies and rights developed in the
White House Conferences.
Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems, a journal of the
University of Iowa College of Law, organized this symposium, ―A Critical
Juncture: Human Rights and U.S. Standing in the World Under the Obama
Administration,‖ because the United States is indeed at a ―critica l juncture.‖
The United States is experiencing domestic unease as it attempts to recover
from a financial crisis along with the international credibility problem caused
by its two wars. It is easy, in light of these ―grown-up‖ problems, to forget
that these problems do not re main ―grown-up‖: children are often the victims
of economic and political turmoil.
5
The United States recognized this in its
reaction to World War I, World War II, and the Great Depression by taking
progressive steps in developing child welfare policies and a child rights
agenda through the White House Conferences.
6
1
William L. Chenery, Standards of Child Welfare, Prepared for the 1919 White House
Conference on the Standards of Child Welfare 11 (1919).
2
Förhandlingarna i FN:s Tredje Utskott Avslutade, REGERINGSKANSLIET (Nov. 26, 2010),
http://www.manskligarattigheter.se/extra/news/?module_instance=1&id=1641. See also HRC
Explanation of Position on Rights of the Child, UNITED STATES MISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS
AND OTHER INTL ORGS. IN GENEVA (Mar. 26, 2010),
http://geneva.usmission.gov/2010/03/26/rights-child/.
3
Id.
4
T he Convention on the Rights of the Child, Nov. 20, 1989, 28 I.L.M. 1448, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3
[hereinafter CRC].
5
Chenery, supra note 1, at 11.
6
The author will use the term ―child rights‖ to address both rights and child welfare policies
throughout this Article. This mirrors the use of the term in the CRC and in the last of the White
House Conferences.

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