By Michael Ramey

The issue of whether to adopt the Parental Rights Amendment (PRA) or ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) comes down to one question: Who decides what is best for children?

Proponents of the CRC believe that the United Nations has already decided and should continue to decide, and that governments should be obligated (and empowered) to enforce those decisions. The specific policy states that “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” (CRC, Article 3)

In application, “[this] ‘Best interests’ [standard] provides decision and policy makers with the authority to substitute their own decisions for either the child’s or the parents’, providing it is based on considerations of the best interests of the child,” according to CRC advocate and international law expert Geraldine Van Buren of the University of London.

Proponents of the PRA hold another view: namely, that fit parents act in the best interests of their children, and every parent has the right to be assumed fit until proven otherwise. We believe “the statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition”Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584 (1979).

But which is right? Who makes better decisions for children, the government or the parents?

First is the case of Chief Warrant Officer Edward Cantrell, a Green Beret just home from Afghanistan. When his home caught fire, Cantrell and his wife escaped by leaping from the home’s second floor – but their two daughters, ages 6 and 4, were still inside. While a bureaucrat would begin compiling statistics and risk analyses, Cantrell wrapped himself in a blanket and dove back into the flames to recover his girls. Sadly, all three died in the blaze. But Cantrell knew it was not in his daughters’ best interest for him to stand outside and wait for help, and he did all he could, even surrendering his life, to rescue his precious little girls.

The second story involves Stephanie Decker of Indiana, who was home with her two children when a massive tornado struck. The three had taken shelter in the basement when the house was torn apart around them. Instinctively, Decker wrapped the children in a blanket and threw herself on top, shielding their bodies with her own as debris was thrown at her by the violent twister. When the wind settled, Decker found her legs badly damaged – one nearly ripped off – but her children were both safe. A fast response by a neighbor saved Stephanie’s life, though she did lose one leg above the knee and the other above the ankle.

Unlike a paid bureaucrat or elected official, Stephanie counted her own body a small price to pay for the lives of 8-year-old Dominic and 5-year-old Reese. Why? Because that’s what a Momma does. Because those children are not just her responsibility – they are her life.

And that’s why parents, and not the government, are in the best position to decide what is best for their child. Parents naturally love their children and give their lives to them and for them every day. Stephanie Decker and CWO Cantrell are the obvious and incredible examples this week, but parents know that they are not alone.

Michael Ramey is the Director of Communications and Research for ParentalRights.org.

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12 comments
  1. Read the bloody thing first!   The CRC makes it clear who has primary responsibility for children, it’s the parents stupid.  When they cannot/will not do their job, then the state is to take a hand.  Otherwise, the state’s job is to support the parents to do their job.  That is what it says. The PRA is NOT about parental rights, it’s about whether a child has the right to choose his religion.  The CRC follows the Constitution of the US, it’s the child’s right to choose.  The parents’ role is to guide.  All the rest of the PRA is flim-flam, they simply don’t like the idea that kids have such a right.  As kids move towards maturity, they are more and more able, by law, to make such choices.  In England a child at 16 can say s/he wants to get married to someone of another faith in that person’s church/mosque/synagogue and can do so without parental consent, and change their faith if they wish to do so. I really do wonder why some Americans want to believe other parents in other nations would have put up with their countries signing the CRC if it was as dire as the PRA rant on.  Arrogance is what we call that.  The PRA is dishonest cant, afraid to show its real purpose which is to remove the right to choose one’s religion.  That’s, in a word, UNCONSTITUTIONAL.   You have one, protect THAT.

      1. I’m sorry, sir, but I don’t believe it does: ”
        Neither the United States nor any state shall infringe upon this right without demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served. ” Not the interest of the child, that of the government. And the religious freedom of the child would be very easy to pitch as not being a governmental interest – which I would say is the whole point of having written in this section.

  2. Oh by the way, perfect strangers have thrown themselves in the way of harm to protect others’ children.  Given their lives.  Suffered great harm.  The argument above is specious and emotionally dishonest, and worse still, highly insulting.  Sometimes/often those people have been servants of the state – police officers, firefighters, rescuers, military etc.   They decided.   In the line of duty, to the state, often by oath.   When it comes to children, they have all taken the responsibility “This is my child too”.  All our children.  Get honest, PRA.  You want the law to say that parents decide what a child will believe, and you want that in the US Constitution.  The rest is baloney.

    1. “Perfect strangers have thrown themselves in the way of harm to protect others’ children”

      So what?

      So no, it’s better for the state to decide what a child will believe.  Right?  That is essentially what you’re saying. That’s baloney!

  3. I’m with you Jan, but I think you would be well-served to avoid calling people “stupid.”  It’s not likely to move anyone to your side.

  4. “The third story involves Court-At-Law Judge William Adams of Texas, who simply could not tolerate the immorality of his 16 year-old daughter’s downloading of music off the internet. Adams took it upon himself to rectify this wrong, by repeatedly beating the girl with a belt.”
    So this is what passes for an argument these days: a couple of random anecdotes that are used as ultimate proof for a political point – made by a Director of Communications and Research no less.
    Oh – that, plus all the excellent objections raised below by Jan Cosgrove.

      1. Yes, it is indeed meant to be evidence – of the fact that “anecdotal evidence” such as that used in this article is meaningless. It’s called irony. And a self-branded Director of Research should know better. There is, after all, a good reason why your judicial system uses the expression to characterize a cherry-picked sample which cannot be considered representative of an entire case.

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