ABOUT THIS BOOK
"Children's rights": the phrase has been a legal battle cry for twenty-five years. But as this provocative book by a nationally renowned expert on children's legal standing argues, it is neither possible nor desirable to isolate children from the interests of their parents, or those of society as a whole.
From foster care to adoption to visitation rights and beyond, Martin Guggenheim offers a trenchant analysis of the most significant debates in the children's rights movement, particularly those that treat children's interests as antagonistic to those of their parents. Guggenheim argues that "children's rights" can serve as a screen for the interests of adults, who may have more to gain than the children for whom they claim to speak. More important, this book suggests that children's interests are not the only ones or the primary ones to which adults should attend, and that a "best interests of the child" standard often fails as a meaningful test for determining how best to decide disputes about children.
This book will provoke a welcome storm of debate in family, custody, and child welfare law. Martin Guggenheim makes a powerful case that it is in the most humane American tradition to support parents' rights, not as a denial of children's humanity but an affirmation of their best chance to grow and be supported within a family, with an edifice of significant barriers to state control and intervention. The issues addressed by What's Wrong with Children's Rights are timely, and will impact millions of children in the U.S. Guggenheim's arguments make us think and rethink the role of lawyers for children, guardians, social workers, and the great battery of professionals who advise judges and administrative decision-makers.
-- Bernardine Dohrn, Director of the Children and Family Justice Center, Northwestern University
Martin Guggenheim has written a book that will have an important influence on children's rights discourse. He challenges the conventional views of children's rights advocates, arguing persuasively that children may be better off without (some kinds of) rights and that legal disputes about children's welfare are often driven by the interests of adults. This book should be read by everyone who is interested in legal policies regulating children and families.
-- Elizabeth S. Scott, University Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law
What's Wrong with Children's Rights shows how talk of both "children's rights" and "parental rights" can mask other social values that may not serve children's needs. This provocative book needed to be written and Martin Guggenheim is the ideal author.
-- Sanford N. Katz, Darald and Juliet Libby Professor of Law, Boston College Law School
In this book, Martin Guggenheim, one of the country's leading child advocates, challenges many of the basic premises of the proponents of "children's rights." He convincingly shows that legal policies claiming to protect the interests of children frequently reflect only adults' interests. His sweeping review of family law policy over the past forty years casts both case law and legal practice in an entirely new light.
-- Michael Wald, Reynolds Professor of Law, Stanford University
Martin Guggenheim has given us a smart book on hard topics. Who counts as a parent? Who should decide if a teenager can have an abortion? Do grandparents have rights? The book challenges the idea of children's rights not only historically and philosophically, but also as they are used in legal advocacy, politics, and family conflicts. What's Wrong with Children's Rights will be of tremendous benefit to the children's rights field, and to readers who want to understand the intimate connections between law and family life.
-- Carol Sanger, Barbara Aronstein Black Professor of Law, Columbia University
[An] exceptionally thought-provoking new book...Guggenheim makes a passionate and compelling call to policy makers, practitioners and scholars who care about children to shift the course of our dialogue on how best to serve children's interests.
-- Theo Liebmann New York Law Journal
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1 A Brief History of Children’s Rights in the United States
2 The Rights of Parents
3 Getting and Losing Parental Rights:The “Baby Jessica” Case
4 Who Gets to Be the Parent? The Right to Relationships with Someone Else’s Children
Divorce, Custody, and Visitation
6 Child Protection, Foster Care, and Termination of Parental Rights
7 Children’s Rights that Serve Adults’ Needs:The Case of Adolescents’ Right to Abortion
8 How Children’s Rights Impact Family Law and Juvenile Rights