In the United States, the debate about whether children have rights continues to rage, in no small measure due to the absence of any framing document that recognises children as rights holders. Within Anglo-American traditions, competence is a prerequisite to having and exercising rights, largely because of notions surrounding social compact theory. Thus children are excluded from the class of rights holders because they lack competency. The tension between a conception of the rights holder as an autonomous and capable individual free from governmental regulation and a strong notion of the welfare state suggests that a system of rights which acknowledges remediation of insecurity and inequality as a vital governmental obligation is essential to the well-being of all vulnerable populations, including children. That system of rights, grounded in notions of empowerment, continues to offer a way forward for children.
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FergusonL., “Not Merely Rights for Children But Children’s Rights: The Theory Gap and the Assumption of the Importance of Children’s Rights”, International Journal of Children’s Rights2013 (21(2)), 177–208.