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SHELL GAME

Somalia. No public schools. No unifiying government. The last African country to access the internet. So what common distinction does Somalia share with the United States? These are the only two nations that have not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

For the United States, this decision hinges on the seemingly innocuous term, "the best interests of the child." American law presumes that parents will act in the best interests of their child and defers to them. Even the scriptures presume the same, that the parent will not give his child a snake when asked for a fish. And the CRC, on first glance, seems to agree.

Article 18 states that parents "have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child. The best interests of the child will be their basic concern." But in a distracting shell game, a single word exchanges this parental right for a "responsibility." The prize? An empty shell.

When the Constitution ensures the "right" to bear arms, individuals can chose if, how, and when they will use firearms. But if the Constitution specifies the "responsibility" to bear arms, the individual is now obligated to fight in the manner called upon by the government for the common defense.

In the case of the CRC, the parents become "responsible" to the state to carry out what the U.N. determines to be in the best interests of the child. The parental presumption is transferred to the state. It is now the burden of the parents to prove that they are fit, rather than that of the state to prove that they are unfit.

And who is the final authority for interpretation and implementation? Ten international experts. Their interpretation? "Best interests" provides them "the authority to substitute their own decisions for either the child's or the parent's...There is no longer a traditional area of exclusive parental or family decision-making."

As the state, then, becomes the parent, what must signatory nations ensure for all children?

Every child will have registration and tracking from birth. A central government registry for data collection of private information includes economic welfare, medical decisions, familial relationships, and physical and mental well-being.

Every child will have protection from "all forms of physical degrading punishment or mental violence." Corporal punishment, including spanking, by schools and parents is prohibited. In addition, punishment is barred for the child's expressed opinions, beliefs, activities, or status.

Every child will have the absolute right to freedom of expression. His views must be solicited "in all matters affecting the child", and those views must be given "due weight." He may "seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds" through any media. Exposure to material of his choice, including pornography, cannot be prevented.

Every child will have "freedom of thought, conscience, and religion," including objection to religious training by the parents.

Every child will have the right to freedom of association, including the right to assemble, protest, and join gangs.

Every child will have the "right to privacy" which could include abortion and contraceptives in which parental notification laws would become invalid.

Every child will have the right to choose a public education with federally mandated curriculum. Values of responsible citizenship is taught, including environmentalism, a "spirit of understanding, peace, and toleration, equity of sexes, and friendship of all peoples." Additionally, respect for the "principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations" is required. Private education may be allowed, to the extent that it conforms to these standards.

Every child will have the right to "a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral, and social development."

Every child will have the highest attainable level of health care, including a mandatory federal health insurance plan.

Every child will have the right to make autonomous decisions with the parents respecting the "evolving capacities of the child." Facilitation of "respect for the views of children and their participation in all matters affecting them" must be promoted and guaranteed by the government within the family setting.

And what is the consequence if parents do not fulfill their "responsibilities?" The state is obligated to intervene. "Every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults," including removal from the home.

In Great Britain last year, Child Protective Services (CPS) workers informed two pregnant mothers that in the "best interests of the children" their babies would be taken by the state at birth. A psychologist had testified that one mother posed no threat to the baby. But reports of the mothers' depression and a personality disorder led CPS to conclude that the mothers were capable of emotional abuse of the yet to be born children.

And since the American Medical Association defines emotional abuse as including "making fun of a child, calling a child names, and always finding fault," the CRC considers these negative influences "mental violence," obligating the state to intervene.

All signatory states are required to submit reports of their CEC compliance to the Committee of Ten, which has absolute authority in determining the meaning of this living, breathing document. Their view holds that "the Convention should be interpreted holistically, taking into consideration not only it's specific provisions, but also the general principles which inspired it." Therefore there is an ever-changing standard by which states are measured, with the more developed nations more stringently censured.

Britain, for example, was censured for "reasonable chastisement" of children in their homes, spanking in private schools, and insufficient child welfare benefits. Demanding that Britain change its laws, the Committee called for the swift release of incarcerated children who commit serious crimes. They also condemned the failure to consult children in running of schools, determining sex education participation, and in training them in their rights under the CRC.

Other examples of Orwellian oversight techniques include the creation of state monitoring systems for "identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment, and follow-up" of parents not in compliance. Media programs are promoted to "sensitize" the population to the principles of the Convention. Screening to prevent marriages between those with mental deficiencies and the removal of competition, including sports, from schools supports CRC conformity.

In 1995, President Bill Clinton signed the CRC and sent it to the Senate for ratification. This treaty lacks only the votes of 67 senators for the CRC to become the supreme law of the land, ending parental rights in our nation.

The only safeguard that will trump the authority of this treaty is a federal constitutional parental rights amendment. For this to happen, the amendment must be approved by a two-thirds majority of both the House and the Senate, and then ratified by three-fourths of the states. Only 33 amendments have ever passed Congress and of those, only 27 have been ratified.

Home schooled families have the most to lose should the CRC be ratified. And through the labors and network of HSLDA, homeschoolers are leading the charge.

The first step is to enlist 10,000 people from each of our two congressional districts to become Citizen Co-sponsors of the bill by signing the petition at www.ParentalRights.org. That is forty people for every adult that receives this magazine. Most can accomplish this by emailing the "Tell a Friend" letter on the ParentalRights website to their address book. When this occurs in 80% of the congressional districts across the country, this will give us the traction for sufficient votes in Congress.

After signing the petition, the final step is to join the campaign by donating $25 on the website. Under existing federal law, only dues-paying members can receive emailed updates about the political progress of this effort that will continue to move this forward.

We are fighting for the very essence of what defines us as families, the right as parents to raise our children according to our core convictions. It will take the sustained efforts of each of us starting today, before this window of opportunity closes forever. If not now, when. If not here, where. Somalia?

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