Children's Rights


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A sample of my writing: Capstone paper for my Professional Seminar in Criminal Justice & Social Sciences.

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Children's Rights

  1. 1. Running head: CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 1The Development of Children’s Rights: The Social, Religious, Educational, Political, and LegalAspects Regarding the Abuse and Violence of ChildrenHolly A. BrennanTiffin University
  2. 2. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 2Our national myth is that we love children… Yet we are starving thousands. Other thousandsdie because decent medical care is unavailable to them. The lives of still other thousands arestifled by poor schools, and some never have a chance to go to school at all. Millions live insubstandard and unfit housing in neighborhoods which mangle the human spirit.~ Former Senator Walter Mondale, 1970
  3. 3. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 3DedicationThe student would like to dedicate this paper to the city of Tiffin’s CASA (CourtAppointed Special Advocates) organization for helping to communicate the opinions of childrenin the criminal justice system- a place where everyone gets a lawyer except the child. Thestudent would also like to thank Monica Rich, a fellow Forensic Psychology student at TiffinUniversity, for introducing the CASA program and what it means to be an advocate for youngpeople.
  4. 4. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 4AcknowledgementsHolly would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people who encouraged her tobe a sworn advocate. First, the student would like to thank Monica Rich, a fellow ForensicPsychology student at Tiffin University, for introducing the CASA program and what it means tobe an advocate for young people. In addition, the student appreciates the guidance from hermentor, Dr. Steven Hurwitz. Holly thanks Rebecca Herner and Jane Flechtner for their supportand guidance during the internship. Lastly, the student would like to acknowledge all those whofought and continue to fight for children’s rights. You truly make a difference in the world.
  5. 5. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 5The Development of Children’s Rights: The Social, Religious, Educational, Political and LegalAspects Regarding the Abuse and Violence of ChildrenSome parents believe that they own their offspring, and to an unfortunate extent, this istrue. American citizens have rights regardless of age, however, and up until the late 1960schildren barely had any rights of their own. As part of the Convention on the Rights of Children,Article 6 demands that ―State Parties shall insure to the maximum extent possible the survivaland development of the child‖ (Britto, 2012, p. 94). To those parents not as committed to theirchildren, this is the basic type of care that is given. Emotionally negligent parents ensuresurvival and that is about it. Children need more in life than just the few tools to exist. Violenceand abuse cannot help a child develop appropriately. Britto’s (2012) policy implications revealthe ―serious negative impact of violence and abuse on basic survival and development. Violenceagainst children is a global problem, in that large a proportion of children in every society sufferssignificant violence within their homes‖ (p. 95). So, what is the government doing about this?Unfortunately, there is no particular era or chunk of time deemed the Children’s RightsMovement; unlike the specific decades associated with the Civil Rights Movement and theWomen’s Rights Movement.Throughout the Civil Rights Movement into the 1970s, not many rights had beenestablished for kids. The Children’s Rights Movement was a slow crusade that thankfully calledfor change involving the treatment and education of children, in addition to basic childprotection. The researcher will discuss the social, religious, educational, political, and legalaspects regarding the abuse and violence of children in the juvenile justice system with a forensicpsychology perspective. Additionally, the student believes it is important to look at theinternational convention on the rights of the child in addition to disclosing information about her
  6. 6. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 6experience at Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).The literature of the Children’s Rights Movement is vast, but nowhere near the amountthat can be found regarding the rights movements of African Americans or women. EditorsBeatrice and Ronald Gross (1977) note the fact that ―children‖ and ―youth‖ were not even majorcategories in most libraries or bookstores back in the 1970s (p. 4).One makes a note of thisbecause it seems like the individual rights of children were not taken seriously until the twentiethcentury. Children were a type of slave to both parents and society. A child must do as his/herparents tell them, but to what extent? If they get home from school and immediately aresubjected to abuse, then those children are most likely not going to succeed in the world. Whatis even more shocking is that some of these children who are abused at home become victim-bullies (Nansel et al., 2003).There is a misperception of child abuse and neglect in America. People in the UnitedStates nowadays probably envision the violation of children’s rights as kids who fall victim toabusive child labor practices or those living in poverty.What people do not understand is thatchild abuse and neglect is much more than that. Emotional and psychological abuse is just asdamaging to a child as hard labor. There was a time in our country when children weresubjected to physical dangers, but thankfully, there are many rights for children in the UnitedStates now that apply to their well-being. However, it was a long and tedious journey that theAmerican child endured to obtain these rights.Further, a disturbing notion is that animal’s rights were established before children’s(Hawes, 1991, p. 20)! It is the norm in America to own animals, not necessarily to own kidsthough. What the author means by this is that parents have the responsibility to keep childrensafe and they have the ability to make decisions for them until the age of 18, but kids are not
  7. 7. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 7property. Their best interest needs to be taken into consideration. The researcher focusesprimarily on social, religious, educational, political, and legal aspects. The nature of this papercenters mainly on the United States, but it does examine the international convention on therights of the child. With that being said, the researcher discusses how the child is affectedsocially and religiously, giving examples of cases that CASA (Court Appointed SpecialAdvocates) has encountered. Sociology is a key component in the lives of children involved inthe juvenile justice system. The social, political, educational and legal aspects regarding theabuse and violence of children in the criminal justice system is best looked at with a forensicpsychology perspective.BackgroundThe historical perception of children in general is interesting to analyze.There is no settime era that embodies the children’s rights movement. It really was an excruciating process thattook many leaders and organizations years to accomplish. Unbelievably, children’s rights dateback to colonial times and they had the fewest rights in this time period. Children seemed to getmore attention throughout the nineteenth century and the progression slowly cruised through thetwentieth and twenty-first centuries.Colonial EraAccording to Hawes (1991), rights for children included ―a start in life, and freedom fromexcessive abuse‖ (p.1). Everyone in that era had a place and children had theirs. If they deviatedfrom society’s expectations they would be punished; some more severe than others. The issuewas that children were rarely seen as individuals. If disciplining the child got out of hand i.e.excessive beatings, then the government could then step in. Hawes (1991) explains, ―This powerto intervene, on behalf of the child, even in the biological family, stems from the doctrine of
  8. 8. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 8parenspatriae: the state is the ultimate parent of every child‖ (p. 2). This is under common law,of course. According to Hawes (1991), the colonists in New England regarded themselves as acollection of families rather than individuals; so, to them the notion of individual rights wouldhave been strange because they viewed isolated individuals as a danger to the peace of society(p. 2).During this time era, verbal and physical disciplines were popular forms ofpunishment in addition to public shaming. Britto (2012) validates this perception by making therealization that strong verbal and corporal punishment are ―often linked to a combination ofinterconnected personal, familial, social, economic, and cultural factors‖ (p. 96). A studyconducted by Lansford and Deater-Deckard in 2012 verifies Britto and confirms howchildrearing has not changed a whole lot throughout the centuries. They concluded that almostone third of mothers agreed with the use of physical punishment as a necessary part of raising achild.The relationship between parent and child involved a set of mutual obligations. Childrenobeyed their parents, just as the Bible commanded them to and parents were obligated to meetthe child’s basic needs i.e. education to the broadest sense and means by which the child couldleave the home and become an adult (Hawes, 1991, p.3). Taken from English law, the colonist’sfirst law focused on punishing difficult children. This law also gave the child an opportunity todisclose whether or not they had been abused or if they were acting in self-defense. The revisionof this law called, the Stubborn Child Law, did not allow the later part, but it did widen thedefinition of rebellious children and require the ―stubborn child‖ to appear before the court(Hawes, 1991, p.5). These were the first couple of laws that helped to protect children. While
  9. 9. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 9the government intervened when physical abuse occurred, they began to intervene wheneducational needs were lacking.Nineteenth CenturyHawes (1991) discusses ―The Age of Institution Building,‖ which was from 1800-1890.Institutionalization is an important concept when it comes to children’s rights (Meyer, 2007, p.125). The nineteenth century involved a number of social efforts designed to improve children’slives and, in some cases, to protect their rights (p. 11). John Locke was an influential man duringthis period and his ideas helped the Puritans to see positive aspects within the ominous doctrineof original sin. Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding helped most Puritan ministersto apply the idea that a child was a tabula rasa at birth. This means that a child’s psyche wouldbe blank or neutral at birth. How does this apply to building institutions though? Hawes (1991)explains,In effect, the Enlightenment triumphed over original sin by emphasizing the primacy ofenvironmental influences in shaping individual character and conscience. Childrentherefore deserved to be saved from the evils of an industrializing society, but they alsorepresented the future and the possibilities of a better life. Thus, Americans built schoolsto provide a disciplined and literate work force and to give poor children a chance toimprove their lives. (p. 11).Not only did Americans start building more schools, they built special institutions for kids whowere already in difficult situations in hopes that they might be re-formed. In all honesty, thebuilding of institutions really did not do much in regards to expanding the rights of children, butit did demonstrate how the government could in fact exercise its powers under parenspatriaeand
  10. 10. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 10actually intervene directly in the lives of children (Hawes, 1991, p. 13). Some parents did notlike this at all and thought the government had absolutely no right to interfere.After doing much research, the author discovered that those parents, who tend to disagreewith the enacting of children’s rights, were most likely using the child as a source of income.The reason for this is because children routinely worked in mills, factories, sweatshops, and onfarms; all of which help the family financially, but involved hazardous conditions. If thegovernment is mandating children to attend school, then they will be unable to help provide forthe family. Bryant (2010) discusses a time in 1832 when United States’ New England ofAssociation of Farmers, Mechanics, and Other Working-men condemned child labor, butaccording to Phelps, children were commonly exploited. Here are two revelations- the lawsduring that time were not enforced and some adults were affected by children being treatedunfairly, while others just cared about money and making a profit off of cheap child laborers.Phelps speculates the reason is that children are easier to manipulate than adults are and theauthor agrees with this statement since kids do not know better. This can be applied to sexualmanipulation, psychological manipulation, etc. In fact, the student has read case studies fromCourt Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) that documents various types of exploitation ofchildren including sexual, physical, and mental –one cannot discuss the specific cases becausethat would breach confidentiality. In general, children are innocent and adults take advantage ofthat fact.A great development of the Children’s Rights Movement in the nineteenth century wasthe founding of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (SPCC) in 1875. This ―wasthe first specific, formal response to the question of child abuse and child neglect‖ (Hawes, 1991,p. 13). The word cruelty helped to refine the concept ―abuse‖ so that parents better understood
  11. 11. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 11what acceptable punishment is and what is cruel. Since the colonial period already establishedthat children have the right to live and grow and that it is the family’s duty to preserve that right,the SPCC helped expand the idea that a public agency can intervene in order to protect a childfrom abuse and neglect. Some neglected children would go to houses of refuge, but the authorwill not be discussing the refuge movement because that could be a completely different paper initself.The story of New York SPCC is very interesting and it is quite familiar to those whostudy children’s rights. A volunteer social worker found that no agency was willing to arbitrateon behalf of a 10-year-old girl who was abused and neglected by her stepmom. The socialworker was so desperate that she turned to Henry Bergh who worked with the Society for thePrevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). He arranged to have the child brought to court andthe judge actually placed the young girl in the temporary care of the SPCA. The SPCA thenarranged for a foster home. Elbridge Gerry, the SPCA’s general counsel, helped found the neworganization in 1875 (Hawes, 1991, p. 20). This is such a feat in the Children’s RightsMovement, but the fact that this was born from an organization against animal cruelty isunbelievable.The 1880s brought large developments for children’s rights. First, Bryant (2010)explains that the national convention of the American Federation of Labor passed a resolution in1881, calling on the United States to ban children under age 14 from employment (Appendix, p.ii). Second, the Brooklyn SPCC defined cruelty as:a. all treatment or conduct by which physical pain is wrongfully, needlessly, or excessivelyinflicted, orb. by which life or limb or health is wrongfully endangered or sacrificed, or
  12. 12. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 12c. neglect to provide such reasonable food, clothing, shelter, protection, and care as the lifeand well-being of the child require;d. the exposure of children during unreasonable hours of inclement weather, as peddlers orhawkers, or otherwise;e. their employment is unwholesome, degrading, or unlawful callings;f. or any employment by which the powers of children are over-taxed or their hours of laborunreasonably prolonged; andg. the employment of children as mendicants, or the failure to restrain them from vagrancyor begging. (Hawes, 1991, pgs. 21-22).From the above list is a sort of bill of rights for children. It explains that kids have the right tobe safe, free of excessive physical abuse by parents. It also implies the rights to necessities suchas development, which does include the right to be free of harmful or dangerous employment.As one read through the history of child labor laws, it reminded the student of a song by JohnLennon named ―Working Class Hero‖ (Appendix, p. v). The song defines the life of a lower ormiddle class worker. The songwriter details the transition of child laborer to adult laborer. Thefirst two versus specifically describe the harsh life of child labor.The children’s rights movement in the United States began to progress even moretowards the end of the nineteenth century. People were optimistic and willing to changebecause citizens of America were concerned with what was happening to American society,American values, and most importantly to American children. One important law that wasenacted is the Illinois Juvenile Court Act (Bryant, 2010). It established the first juvenile courtsystem in the world.Creating a separate trial court for juveniles was a milestone. Some believedthat if we expose children to adult criminals in the court system that we would possibly breed
  13. 13. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 13more criminals. Further, we may accidentally make criminals out of children who are notcriminals by treating them as if they were criminals (Bryant, 2010). If a child was mandated togo to court, the parents could bring a lawyer as their own defense. No one was actually there torepresent the child. Going to court is a traumatic event for any child, let alone notunderstanding ―legalese.‖ Let us fast-forward to the late seventies, when the Children’s RightsMovement was at its peak.Twentieth CenturyJudge David Soukup, who was involved with the juvenile courts system, was all togetherdissatisfied with the same case plan and same recommendations he received for child afterchild. He believed that more individualized attention would produce better outcomes, varyingfrom situation to situation. Judge Soukupwanted to hear what the child had to say regardingtheir fate and the outcome of the case. He solicited ideas for system improvement from courtstaff. Out of these ideas evolved community volunteers acting as child advocates or guardian adlitem. According to the National CASA Volunteer Manual:The term ―ad litem‖ means for the suit‖ or ―for the court case.‖ It is an old concept—inAnglo Saxon times, at common law, the king appointed a guardian ad litem to speak onbehalf of a child or incompetent person.As part of their general powers, judges todayhave the discretion to appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) in all types of court matters.Some states require that the guardian ad litem be an attorney; others do not.In 1974, theChild Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) mandated the appointment of aguardian ad litem in child abuse and neglect cases; it was no longer up to the judge’sdiscretion.(V1-3).
  14. 14. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 14The Volunteer Guardian ad Litem Program began in 1977 in King County, which is inSeattle, Washington. While some guardian ad litem are attorneys, one does not have to be anattorney in order to represent the child in court. The program recruited volunteers from thecommunity and provided training and support. The National Court Appointed Special AdvocateAssociation (National CASA) was created in 1982 to support volunteer child advocate programsand increase the number of volunteer child advocates nationwide (p. V1-3).The author is veryfamiliar with CASA because she went through the appropriate training to become an advocate,which involved 30 seated hours and attending six hours of court hearings. A child is appointed aCASA when the judge needs an unbiased, third party’s opinion.Parents typically decide what is best for their children and then provide it for them to theextent that they can. Additionally, there are sociological values that society typically deemsmore important than others are and these include religion and culture. These are aspects ofchildren’s’ lives that need to be taken into consideration because the two affect the amount ofrights that children do or do not have. Parents are their child’s best advocates though and theyneed to support and protect their children both mentally and physically to the best of their abilityregardless of religion and culture.The child protection system intervenes in families’ lives when parents choose not protect,promote, and provide for their children’s basic needs. A CASA/GAL volunteer becomes theadvocate when the parents cannot—or will not—fulfill this role (National CASA VolunteerManual, p. V1-8). Judges use the ―best interest of the child‖ standard when making theirdecisions in child abuse and neglect cases. Currently, the United Nations Convention on theRights of the Child have been and still are concerned with the child’s best interest (Bradshaw,2011, p. 548); however, child welfare, juvenile court practitioners, and scholars have debated the
  15. 15. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 15meaning of ―best interest of the child‖ for years. Books have been written on the subject;however, there is still no concise legal definition for this standard.Domestically, not having a setdefinition is hard enough, but what happens with children’s rights internationally?The mid-1900s produced a bundle of legislation and treaties aimed at reducing abuse andviolence against children. The trend began with the Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.Britto (2012) reveals the fact that the United Nations General Assembly considered the variouspolicies legally binding once they were ratified by a country, according to the United NationsDepartment of Public Information (1997). The main purpose of the development of rightsimplementations was ―to protect human rights through principles of equality andnondiscrimination‖ (Britto, 2012, p. 92). Shortly after the Declaration of Human Rights wasestablished, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was employed. One of the most importantelements of the twentieth century was in fact the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It wasand still is a key factor in international policies regarding children.Convention on the Rights of the ChildThe twentieth century saw an exciting change of heart regarding children’s rights byimplementing the international Convention on the Rights of the Child. This policy is a humanrights treaty that was conceived by the United Nations. It was actually the original ―legallybinding international convention to comprehensively incorporate‖ civil, political, educational,social, health and cultural rights of children (Britto, 2012, p. 92). In fact, the Convention on theRights of the Child is the only instrument that openly acknowledges early childhood and theimportance of the developing child.It explains the necessary environment that would ensure thateveryone, not just children ―develop to their full potential‖ (Britto, 2012, p. 93). For example,the United Nations reiterates the importance of cognitive and socioemotional caregiving by
  16. 16. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 16parents and it upholds that family, as ―the most proximal context and [is] the natural environmentfor survival and development‖ (Britto, 2012, p. 93). Figure 1 demonstrates proximal to distalcontext for human development according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child dutybearers and claimants. What thisdiagram illustrates is the idea thatparents, guardians, and/or the maincaregivers do have the mainresponsibility of raising children,but the Convention on the Rights ofthe Child also identifies the needand required assistance from thecommunity, government, and international community to create optimal environments (Britto,2012, p. 93-94).Hart (2011), who wrote ―Psychological Maltreatment – Maltreatment of theMind: A Catalyst for Advancing Child Protection toward Proactive Primary Prevention andPromotion of Personal Well-Being‖, validates this paradigm based on psychological factors.Hart (2011) discusses how psychological maltreatment, known as psychological abuse orneglect, directed to the child by a parent can be detrimental to development. Further, if there areno resources provided to the family by the local government then the child has an even lesserchance of surviving. For instance, legitimate child care services and parenting interventionprograms need to be implemented. Countries that apply their policies are linked with thosecontaining better-quality mental health services and improved parenting classes (Britto, 2012, p.94).General Comment no. 13 to the Convention on the Rights of the Child entitled, ―TheFigure 1
  17. 17. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 17Right of the Child to Freedom from All Forms of Violence: Changing How the WorldConceptualizes Child Protection‖ is an important article to review when researching the aspectsof violence and abuse of children. Lee (2011) emphasizes the need to ―completely change themanner in which violence against children is understood‖ (p. 967). What the author means isthat we, as a society, need to avoid fragmented ideas regarding child protection and instead stressthe need to build a comprehensive framework for child protection. Further, Holly and RebeccaHerner (2012) agree with Lee (2011) in that an evaluation tool must be developed thatappropriately measures accountability. The student will later discuss the advocate evaluationquestionnaire pertaining to this matter.Twenty-First CenturyMany child laws have been passed within the last decade. The most controversial, somemight say, is the No Child Left Behind Act. The law was originally passed during the Johnsonadministration, but it was known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It was notenforced diligently, which is why many people do not even know of it. However, The Bushadministration actually joined with the Democrats in 2001 to make its focus the use ofstandardized test scores in schools. This policy served minority students specifically.The Obamaadministration took a different route with this legislation and they proposed torenovatethe NoChild Left Behind Act in March 2010. The new idea encouraged states to raise the bar regardingacademic standards. Instead of identifying thousands of mediocre-managed schools asultimately failing, Obama’s idea aimed to redirect energies and turn around the few thousandschools that are in the worst of shape. In due course, the states were to assumea new set ofacademic standards directed toward college preparation and/or career training by the time thetime high school students go to graduate. Eventually, this idea is supposed to replace the current
  18. 18. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 182014 deadline that works to bring every American child to academic proficiency, which is alargely dismissed goal and is very unrealistic. Congress planned to renew the law in 2007, butthere is no sign of action thus far, unfortunately. The most recent accomplishment concerningNo Child Left Behind was in October 2011. A vote in favor of a bipartisan bill by the Senateeducation committee would undo the requirements of the law that utilizes―standardized testscores in reading and math to label tens of thousands of public schools as failing‖ (New YorkTimes, 2012).Ever since the student began volunteering with CASA (Court Appointed SpecialAdvocates) here in Tiffin, she has discovered a passion for helping children in need. The reasonfor this is because it seems like everyone gets a lawyer except the child and they are rarely askedtheir opinion about the situation. The student is interested in being a voice for those children andadvocating for their rights. Similar to CASA, the United Nations Convention on the Rights ofthe Child believes that ―the primary consideration in all actions concerning children must be intheir best interest and their views must be taken into account‖ (Bradshaw, 2011, p. 548).A studyconducted in 2008 produced shocking results described by Bradshaw (2011). It was a macro,country level analysis that gauged the life satisfaction on different levels. Figure 2 reveals onefinding that this student thought was themost interesting. The graph exposes thefact that young people who live in fairor poor households –defined as living ina workless household or receiving freeschool meals– have lower well-being,except in the family domain.TheFigure 2
  19. 19. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 19example includes data collected from over thirty countries. Overall, children’s life satisfaction ata macro or national level does not seem to be associated with their satisfaction in the specificareas of school or health. Further, there is no correlation between satisfaction level and child-parental relationships or the family structure of a country (Bradshaw, 2011, p. 550).RecommendationsThe last portion of the paper discusses possible recommendations. The student looks atways to assist criminal justice professionals in dealing with children and how to provideconstructive criticism for parents. The researcher believes that her analysis of children’s rightsbenefits criminal justice professionals such as correctional officers, court officials, policeofficers, and/or psychologists from learning the historical and evolutionary details of children’srights. According to Hahn (1970), ―The extent to which local governments are able to respondadequately to public dissatisfaction‖ play a large role in the safety of our children and citizens.Therefore, child abuse and violence preventative plans are based on governmental willingness tohelp.SafetyThere should be crisis intervention plans concerning the safety of children. Thoseinvolved must be skilled and experienced mental health professionals. They must be ready andprepared to appropriately deal with the trauma that children experience at such a young age.Further, a national type of plan must be developed in order to keep everyone on the same page inregards to safety and security protocol. One idea that the student has is to create and implementan Advocate Evaluation Questionnaire for CASA. She wishes for it to be administered annually.
  20. 20. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 20EvaluationCASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is currently lacking an informativequestionnaire(s) regarding the effectiveness of CASA volunteers. That is why an AdvocateEvaluation Questionnaire should be developed and routinely administered. The effectivenesswould be based on evaluations completed by the Executive Director of CASA, Rebecca Herner.Families and children were taken into consideration for those able to take the questionnaire, butthat idea was dismissed because of the bias of some parents and the unlikelihood that youngchildren will be able to read and fully comprehend the questions asked. It would have to be alongitudinal study for the purpose of collecting as much data as possible for each volunteer inorder to appropriately evaluate their effectiveness. Since many cases take longer than a year toassess and close, the administration of the questionnaire should be no shorter than one year inlength.The focus of this hypothetical questionnaire would be to evaluate, improve and changethe current volunteer questionnaire. The reason for this is because the present one entitled,―Victim Assistance Satisfaction Survey‖ is lacking in useful information and it rarely isadministered by CASA. It does not fully take into consideration what the organization does, asrevealed by Rebecca Herner. While speaking with Mrs. Herner, Rule 48 was discussed. Thereare many requirements of an active guardian ad litem and the following must be completed inorder to successfully help a child:(a) Meet with and interview the child and observe the child with each parent, fosterparent, guardian or physical custodian and conduct at least one interview with thechild where none of these individuals is present;
  21. 21. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 21(b) Visit the child at his or her residence in accordance with any standards established bythe court in which the guardian ad litem is appointed;(c) Ascertain the wishes of the child;(d) Meet with and interview the parties, foster parents and other significant individualswho may have relevant knowledge regarding the issues of the case;(e) Review pleadings and other relevant court documents in the case in which theguardian ad litem is appointed;(f) Review criminal, civil, educational, and administrative records pertaining to the childand, if appropriate, to the child’s family or to other parties in the case;(g) Interview school personnel, medical and mental health providers, child protectiveservices workers and relevant court personnel ad obtain copies of relevant records;(h) Recommend that the court order psychological evaluations, mental health and/orsubstance abuse assessments, or other evaluations or test of the parties as the guardianad litem deems necessary or helpful to the court; and(i) Perform any other investigation necessary to make an informed recommendationregarding the best interest of the child. (Amendments to the Rules of Superintendencefor the Courts of Ohio, 2012).This idea of a new questionnaire is important for CASA because it can potentially gauge theeffectiveness of each guardian ad litem and evaluate whether or not the person should continueto advocate for children. The new questionnaire would include a Yes/No section at the endpertaining to Rule 48 and whether or not the advocate completed the requirements. Theresearcher, Holly Brennan, respects the fact that change takes time, but she believes that if thisrecommendation is implemented then CASA will feel more comfortable with the work of their
  22. 22. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 22sworn advocates.A proper evaluation would have to be completed after an Advocate EvaluationQuestionnaire is sent out subsequent to the recommended 1-year trial period. Once the resultsare gathered, informative and summative evaluations can then properly be compiled. Mrs.Herener would monitor the outcome of those evaluations and will provide support andremediation.A Call to Action for National PoliciesHelping countries across the world meet the basic needs for children is complicated. Ofcourse people want to see children grow up in a safe and healthy environment, but the possibilityof that happening consistently across every nation is unlikely. One of the most common sensesuggestions is to reduce violence and abuse of children. It is easier said than done. Ideally, thegovernment needs to ensure that children are being treated as human beings by their familyand/or guardians. Some may believe that is an invasion of privacy, but this student feels that it isnecessary in order to allow every person an opportunity to grow and contribute positively to thisworld. One wishes that deprived children could get unlimited amounts of aid and support, but itis just impractical because of the obscene amount of people who are economically drowning andemotionally unsupported.Providing basic nutrition and the chance for survival are key elements to helping childrenat the most basic level. Further, cognitive and socioemotional interactions are necessary forchildren to develop important social skills. Appropriate environments for children are a mustbecause a child cannot be successful in a dangerous or unhealthy place. In order for this tohappen, resources need to be allocated by proximal contexts because more distal economicfactors are influential in a child’s life.Legal reform, prevention and intervention policies are essential to help countries increase
  23. 23. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 23moral concerning children. For instance, ―the goals of legal reform are to provide justice to childvictims of abuse and violence, reduce future offenses, and increase social controls on conditionsthat promote and perpetuate violence, such as making corporal punishment an offense‖ (Britto,2012, p. 99). A preventative measure could include services the support to reduce violence andchild abuse, including corporal punishment and neglect at home. Parents need to focus onsupporting their child and not being selfish, but selfless. They must be aware of harmfulbehaviors because children do what they see in the form of modeling. Programs that intervene inchild abuse and violence are more therapeutic. They should maintain the goal to reduce stressand the harmful impact of severe discipline and violence within the home.Concluding RemarksThe student has gained a better understanding of the criminal justice system and how therights of children evolved. The researcher covered this subject because she cares about theindividual rights of children. She has explored information by checking-out books on children’srights, acquiring qualitative data from interviews at CASA, attending KONY 2012 presentationat Tiffin University, and reading scholarly journals on child-related matters such as protectionand support, domestic and foreign policies, and invisible children. She made a legitimate effortto do an in-depth analysis to uncover the reason children’s rights have been stifled all theseyears.One of the researcher’s conclusions is that the reason children’s rights were not establishedsooner is the issues revolving around the Civil Rights Movement and/or the Women’s RightsMovement.Overall, it is obvious that there is avital need for a concentrated effort of international-level authorities. Agencies of the United Nations such as UNICEF, UNESCO, World HealthOrganization, UNDP, etc. need to understand how important the development of children are and
  24. 24. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 24that enacting policies is a step, but implementing the policies is even more important. Further,the European Council and other international nongovernmental organizations should collaboratewith United Nations agencies in order to conduct research and train institutions. We need tofurther operationalize the stated global goals by following through with influence internationalpolicy and finalizing strategic actions that are to be taken. The student has decided to continue tospend much time researching the legislation regarding children.
  25. 25. CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 25ReferencesAmendments to the Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio.(2012). Rule 48.Guardiansad litem (excerpt).Bradshaw, J. (2011). Childrens subjective well-being: International comparative perspectives.Children & Youth Services Review, 33(4), 548-556.Brennan, H., &Hern, R. (2012, February 13). Court Appointed Special Advocates.Lecture presented at Court Appointed Special Advocates headquarters, Tiffin, OH.Britto, P. R. (2012). Child Development in Developing Countries: Child Rights and PolicyImplications. Child Development, 83(1), 92-103.Bryant, M.J. (2010).Timeline of a National and International Movement to Protect ChildrenUnder Law.Insights on Law & Society,10(3), 4-5.Gross, B.,& Gross, R. (Eds.). (1977).The Childrens rights movement: Overcoming theoppression of young people.G.arden City, NY: Anchor Books.Hahn, H. (1970, Spring). The public opinion quarterly. In Civic responses to riots: A reppraisalof Kerner commission data. Vol. 34, No. 1. pp. 101-107. Retrieved April 15, 2012, fromAmerican Association for Public Opinion Researchwebsite:, S. N. (2011). Psychological maltreatment - Maltreatment of the mind: A catalyst foradvancing child protection toward proactive primary prevention and promotion ofpersonal well-being. Child Abuse & Neglect, 35(10), 758-766.
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