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How far should rights go

October 28, 2009


How far should rights go

by Ng Wing-yi

Children should have rights. But it can be difficult to draw a clear line between where children’s rights end and the rights and responsibilities of parents begin.

Recently, lawmakers in Hubei introduced a new law that prohibits parents from checking their children’s mobile phone text messages. But I don’t think this is a good way to protect children’s rights.

Parents should have the right to know what their children are talking about. The law gives children more privacy, but allowing them to be secretive could let them get away with immoral or illegal actions, or things that could be dangerous.

While I agree with the UN recommendations that children are entitled to privacy, I also believe parents have to know what their children are doing to protect them.


One Comment leave one →
  1. October 28, 2009 6:03 pm

    Thank you for your letter, Wing-yi. You’re quite right about children’s rights. They are a cultural and moral minefield. The bigger question is where parental control – if any – begins.

    All over the world governments interfere in the way parents raise their children. Some governments may prohibit corporal punishment in an attempt to protect children from being abused, others will go right down to telling parents what they can and cannot put in their children’s lunch boxes or how old their children should be before being allowed to watch TV.

    In these countries the state decides it needs to protect children from their parents’ bad actions or decisions. It believes it knows better than the parents how children should be raised. This may or may not be the case, of course, depending on individual parents.

    Further problems arise when cultural ideals conflict with what the state considers to be human rights. Advocates for human rights believe these rights should be universal whether or not they conflict with culture.

    It’s a meaty topic to discuss..

    Susan, Editor

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