From Publishers Weekly
"As deeply as I've always thought of myself as a children's advocate, much of what I read and hear being advocated in furtherance of children's rights seems to me misguided," writes Guggenheim (The Rights of Families, The Rights of Young People). In this well-argued treatise, the veteran lawyer and children's rights activist takes a stand against children's rights policies that undermine parental authority. Why, he asks, should judges and lawyers be allowed to determine what's best for a child and not the child's parents? After a short introduction to the history of children's rights, he examines how the movement has impacted married parents, unwed fathers, third-party parents, divorced parents, foster parents, adolescents and society as a whole. Guggenheim's main contention is that the best way to secure a child's well-being is not through "children's rights," a term, he argues, that is too often invoked by disputing adults in order to give one party the upper hand-sometimes with disastrous results. Guggenheim does an admirable job outlining the history of children's rights legislation and highlighting the detrimental impact it can have on families, but he offers only vague alternatives. Indeed, he contends that children's well-being should be seen as an integral part of a successful society and writes that "clear rules, quickly enforced, would do far more to protect children's rights than protracted litigation ever could." But what are these rules and who should enforce them? Guggenheim never explains. Nevertheless, his thorough analysis of the topic and his ability to always consider his subject in the larger context of American society makes this book relevant not just for policymakers and academics but for anyone interested in the country's social dilemmas.
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[An] exceptionally thought-provoking new book...Guggenheim makes a passionate and compelling call to policy makers, practitioners and scholars who care about children to shift the course of our dialogue on how best to serve children's interests. (Theo Liebmann New York Law Journal