Representative Pete Hoekstra recently introduced a bill that would amend the U.S. Constitution to permanently “enshrine” a set of parents’ rights into American society. The bill, which has 70 Republican co-sponsors (along with Rep. Hoekstra, who is also a Republican), is aimed at blocking U.S. adoption of a 20-year-old United Nations treaty that was signed by former President Bill Clinton during his time in office. The treaty sets international standards for government obligations to children in protection from abuse, exploitation, and ensuring a child’s right to free expression. Hoekstra and his supporters claim the treaty would have far-reaching results such as:
- Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children
- A child’s ‘right to be heard’ would allow him (or her) to seek governmental review of every parental decision with which the child disagreed
- Children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion.
While 193 countries have already successfully implemented the treaty, religious and conservative groups have prevented the treaty from being ratified in the United Sates. The Girl Scouts of America and the Christian Children’s Fund both support the treaty, believing that it is instrumental for the U.S. to join the international community in support of children’s rights.