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Is Anything Left of Children’s Rights?

How Parental Responsibility Erodes Children’s Rights under English Law

In: The International Journal of Children's Rights
Author: Esther Erlings1
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In this article it is argued that parental responsibility offers a weak basis for the protection of children’s rights due to its emphasis on (1) responsible parents’ determinations of welfare and (2) the concomitant nature of rights to duties. Based on these two premises, courts have often either neglected children’s rights, or have subordinated them to the rights of duty-holders (parents) when deciding on matters falling within the scope of parental responsibility. Recently, a third limitation on children’s rights has been added: the application of a (non-derogable) right held by the child can now be prevented following an exercise of parental responsibility in circumstances where the child’s right would otherwise apply. The argument is therefore made that parental responsibility as applied under English law erodes children’s rights, leaving little left but the rhetoric surrounding them.

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