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Research Report

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The impulse that invited the preparation of this book is one which is linked to the convergence of a number of factors bearing on my interest in human rights. First, the brutality visited on children during World War II has had an abiding negative effect on my sense of what is possible in human conduct. Second, I am persuaded that children are not simply the means by which human societies are continued, but, as well, the potential source of moral revitalization and transformation for those societies. Third, I recognize that the human rights movement, which followed World War II, holds in it a profound promise that of humanity consciously co-existing as a "single people," indeed, as a single family within which children, who are most deserving of our reverence and tenderness, will not be desecrated by hatred. Fourth, my coming to understand that the emergence of the rights of children, as a major part of the human rights movement, carries with it a twin danger — that the rights of children might be interpreted as reduction of the power, authority, and rights of parents; and, as a reaction to that flawed interpretation, a parents-led backlash against children's rights might develop. Fifth, the conviction I gradually gained as I reviewed the history of efforts to offer children "protection " and "rights " within the existing international system, that, despite all that has been said and written about children's rights, not much has been done to help people really understand the singular nature of the development that took place in 1989, when the UN adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Principal aim of this work is to help judges, social workers, lawyers, physicians, police, parents, political leaders, children (especially those entering adolescence), teachers, guidance counselors, professors, journalists, and, certainly, the wider, lettered public understand the significance of this Magna Carta for Children. A secondary aim is to provide readers with a documentary source through which they can grapple with some of the conflicts, cultural blind-spots, moral ambiguities, and self-interests that accompanied and has followed, the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. I hope the volume has achieved its aims.



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