498: Think of the Children

What responsibility do you think a society has to the children living in it?


Full episode script

The philosopher John Hoyt wrote:

“people are often heard to say they are concerned about the kind of world we will leave to our grandchildren, but equally critical is the kind of grandchildren we shall leave to the earth. The values and attitudes imparted to the children and youth of today are crucial in building the political will for sustainable societies in the next century

When it comes to children, it can be very easy to think of them as an extension of their parents until they are of legal age to be considered an adult. Kids are not, however, devoid of any rights and responsibilities in society until the age of 18. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1990 and ratified by all party states except the United States, lays out 40 articles specific to the rights that signatories have to their children. These articles cover everything from a child’s right to have a nationality and relationship to their parents to what their education should include.

There’s also a tension here — even in the UN Convention. Children have a right to a relationship with their families, but children also have a right to live lives free of mental, physical, and sexual abuse. What a society defines as abuse or abusive situations that require removal from a family can often vary.

And above and beyond all of this is the question of what kind of responsibility a society has collectively vs individually — since often, large social changes must be undertaken by collective decision-making — a point that the students out of Parkland, Florida are making strongly in America right now.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.