20 Dec 2010

U.S. religious conservatives argue parents have right to beat and indoctrinate children, continue to fight children's rights treaty

Mother Jones - August 24, 2010

GOP Spanking Caucus Fights UN Treaty

By Stephanie Mencimer | Mother Jones

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was first issued in 1989 as a landmark human rights document defining basic rights for children under the age of 18. It's so uncontroversial that every member of the UN has signed it. Every member, that is, but the U.S. and Somalia, and the only reason Somalia never signed it is that it hasn't had a functioning government capable of signing. But even that wretched country last year announced plans to ratify the treaty. So that leaves the U.S. as the only civilized country in the world that won't ratify an international document pledging to create a legal culture that acts in the best interest of the child (rather than, say, treats them like chattel). During the 2008 campaign, President Obama observed,"It's embarrassing to find ourselves in the company of Somalia, a lawless land." His administration has attempted to revive efforts to get the damn thing ratified after more than 20 years of political wrangling.

But it doesn't look like the treaty is going to get anywhere on Obama's watch, either, despite having renowned children's rights lawyer Hillary Clinton running the State Department. Religious conservatives, especially in the homeschooling movement, are raising a stink about the treaty and trying to get Congress to pass a constitutional amendment that would make it virtually impossible for the US to ever ratify it. Their main objections? Under the treaty, "parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children," the government couldn't sentence teenagers to life in prison, kids could get sex-ed and birth control if they wanted it, and--gasp!--children would be able to choose their own religion, according to a fact sheet published by ParentalRights.org, an outfit headed up by Michael Farris, the homeschooling movement's legal mastermind. The group is dedicated to winning passage of the parental rights amendment.

On Sunday, WorldNet Daily reported on the latest fury over the UN treaty and a renewed interest among conservatives in fighting it. WND noted that 31 Republicans in the Senate have expressed opposition to ratification in a move that seems directly related to the rise of the tea party movement. Farris told WND, "The whole notion that government wants to invade our lives in every sphere has awakened the American public, and frankly has aroused a sleeping giant."

This article was found at:



Religion and Child Abuse

Forced into Faith: How Religion Abuses Children's Rights [book]

Ignore the Rod: the Parental Rights Amendment Isn’t About Spanking

Parental rights: The new wedge issue

Children’s rights treaty stirs debate in U.S.

Who will raise kids: Mom, Dad or state?

Petition urges President Obama to ratify UN Convention on the Rights of the Child like every country except Somalia

Senator Boxer Seeks to Ratify U.N. Treaty That May Erode U.S. Rights

20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child - U.S.A. still not signed

 European human rights body pushes UK to ban all spanking as a violation of children's rights

Child rights advocates in Philippines call on parents, guardians, and other authorities to end corporal punishment


Study shows strongest evidence yet that spanking kids does more harm than good 

Corporal punishment slows the intellectual growth of children: researchers

Line between spanking and abuse difficult to determine

Controversial new study on spanking contradicts abundant research that it is counterproductive

"The Spanking Room – A Child's Eye View of the Jehovah's Witnesses"

For fundamentalist Christian group there is No Greater Joy than biblically beating kids into religious submission

Harsh discipline of children is a central tenet of Twelve Tribes cult



  1. Mitt Romney's Unwavering Commitment to Spanking

    by Tim Murphy, Mother Jones AlterNet October 23, 2012

    Mitt Romney is a man of many pledges. He's pledged to sign a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. He's pledged to appoint a presidential commission to investigate the intimidation of gay marriage foes. He's pledged to "look at every government program and ask this question: Is this so critical that it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?" But over the last few weeks, as he's tried to move to the center and reneged on many of his most contentious past promises, there is one pledge he hasn't backed away from. It involves spanking.

    In July, the GOP presidential nominee wrote a letter to Virginia conservative activist Michael Farris, an evangelical power broker in the critical swing state, outlining his opposition to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which commits ratifying nations to protect children from discrimination. "My position on that convention is unequivocal: I would oppose Senate approval of the convention, and would not sign the convention for final ratification," Romney wrote. "I believe that the best safeguard for the well-being and protection of children is the family, and that the primary safeguards for the legal rights of children in America is the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the states."

    The UN CRC hasn't received much mainstream attention, but it's becoming a rallying cry on the far right, mostly because social conservatives fear that its passage would imperil the rights of parents to, among other things, use corporal punishment on their kids. The first bullet point in Farris' 2009 fact sheet explaining his beef with the treatywarned that "[p]arents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children." (The second was that juveniles could no longer be sentenced to life in prison.) Thanks to the efforts of Farris and others, at least 37 GOP senators have announced their opposition to the treaty.

    The fear of a national spanking ban extends beyond the realm of international law. When the Supreme Court upheld most portions of the Affordable Care Act, Farris fretted that "Congress can regulate every aspect of our lives so long as there is a tax involved. Congress can ban spanking by enacting a $1,000 tax on those who do. Congress can ban homeschooling in a similar fashion."

    Romney has good company when it comes to pandering on the treaty. President George H.W. Bush refused to sign it, and President George W. Bush opted against pushing ratification. Opposition to the UN CRC has long been red meat for social-conservative activists. But if Republicans are united on the treaty, so is the rest of the world. Amnesty International, which is pushing the United States to change course, notes that "it is the first international treaty to guarantee civil and political rights as well as economic, social, and cultural rights." As of 2008, when then-candidate Barack Obama lamented the United States' dalliance on the topic, only one other nation had failed to ratify the treaty—Somalia. (No other UN treaty has received such near-unanimity.) Since that time, however, Somalia has signaled its intent on approving the CRC. Should newly minted nation South Sudan follow suit, the United States will be an exceptional nation once more.

    See Romney's letter at:



  2. The Global Plight of Disabled Children


    A United Nations report, “The State of the World’s Children,” http://www.unicef.org/publications/index_69379.html

    underscores the moral bankruptcy of Senate Republicans who blocked ratification of a treaty to help disabled people around the world. There is scant data on how many children have such disabilities or how their lives are affected. One outdated estimate is that some 93 million children, one in 20 of those 14 or younger, live with a moderate or severe disability of some kind. The issue is how they might be helped to overcome their disabilities and become productive members of their societies.

    A United Nations convention would ban discrimination against persons with disabilities and accord them the same rights as those without disabilities. It has been ratified by 127 countries and the European Union. President Obama has signed it, but, in December, the Senate, though supporting the convention by a hefty 61 to 38, fell five votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for ratification.

    This was mostly because Senate Republicans caved in to far-right ideologues who contended, erroneously, that the convention would infringe on American sovereignty, usher in socialism, and allow United Nations bureaucrats to prohibit home-schooling or wrench disabled children from their parents’ arms.

    The new United Nations report finds that children with disabilities are the least likely to receive health care or go to school and are among the most vulnerable to violence, abuse and neglect, especially if they are hidden away in institutions because of social stigma or parental inability to raise them.

    The disabled children and their communities would benefit if the children were accommodated in schools, workplaces, vocational training, transportation and local rehabilitation programs — and if all countries ratified the convention and a related convention on the rights of children.