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HAT Forum - "Are Children Considered Chattel?"

  • The 519, Rm 303 519 Church Street Toronto, ON, M4Y 2C9 Canada (map)

From the Government of Canada website on the Rights of Children

Article 3: This principle places the best interests of children as the primary concern in making decisions that may affect them. All adults, including those who are involved in making decisions related to budgets, policy and the law, should do what is best for children. When adults make decisions, they should think about how their decisions will affect children

Article 5: States Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents or, where applicable, the members of the extended family or community as provided for by local custom, legal guardians or other persons legally responsible for the child, to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights recognized in the present Convention.

Article 12:  Respect for the views of the child: This principle states that children have the right to say what they think should happen and have their opinions taken into account. This does not mean that children can tell their parents what to do. This Convention encourages adults to listen to the opinions of children and involve them in decision-making but does not give children authority over adults.

Note that Article 12 does not interfere with parents' right and responsibility to express their views on matters affecting their children. Moreover, the Convention recognizes that the level of a child's participation in decisions must be appropriate to the child's level of maturity. Children's ability to form and express their opinions develops with age and most adults will naturally give the views of teenagers greater weight than those of a preschooler, whether in family, legal or administrative decisions

Children’s Rights in the Canadian Legal System: Children cannot ensure that their rights are respected on their own, since children are often under the jurisdiction of parents and other caregivers and lack the resources and access to the court system needed to make a complaint. Thus, it is up to children’s rights advocates to make arguments on behalf of children in order to enforce their rights recognized under the UNCRC. (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child)

  1. Legal vs human rights: How can a child possibly utilize either? What can we do?
  2. Parental rights supersede child's rights so why have children’s rights in the first place?
  3. When should children’s rights supersede parental rights? 
  4. 1700 children in the US die at the hands of their parents every year but only 60 in Canada.  Why the difference?
  5. Where does our social services system help or fail them?
  6. Are children’s rights polarized?  Too staunchly implemented, i.e. "you can't touch me or my parents will sue", or not implemented at all.