Does anyone prioritize the needs of our children?

In 2012, the Quaker United Nations Office published Collateral Convicts: Children of incarcerated parents. This report emerged from a day of general discussion convened in 2011 by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Committee compiled recommendations and good practices from various countries in the hopes that other governmental stakeholders could see and learn from other jurisdictions that have found a way to prioritize the needs of children whose parents become entangled in the criminal justice system.

While United States continues to be the last holdout of all nations to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child – just a couple years ago the United States and Somalia were the only two states that had not ratified the Convention. That the US government is dragging its feet when it comes to the needs of one of our most cherished national treasures – our children – is frightening, but it does not necessarily come as a surprise given the number of other social values that get thrown under the bus, i.e. health care, education, housing.

In the next two blogs, let’s take a look at what our friendly neighbors around the globe are doing to ensure that the needs of children are not lost in a sea of draconian laws aimed at punishing their parents, but that, nonetheless, mete out severe and life-long punishment for the children. In the meantime, take a look at the Quaker’s Collateral Convicts: Children of incarcerated parents. Take a moment to reflect on: What does the best interest of the child mean to you? Should the needs of children be taken into consideration when sentencing a parent? The Convention on the Rights of the Child tackles both these questions head on.

Patricia Allard

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