Co-opting Children’s Rights Language: An Example Concerning the Topic of Sexual Exploitation of Adolescents

By Sonja Grover.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper examines the conceptual and linguistic categories of “child,” “adolescent” and the notion of “personal autonomy” as used in the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The U.N. language and that of children’s human rights advocates is compared to that employed by those academics and others who have deftly but inappropriately co-opted children’s rights language to argue that adolescents need not be protected from sex with adults in every circumstance. This, on the fallacious contention that adolescents can give voluntary, informed consent to certain such contact despite their powerless position in society. While such academics argue for what they term “sexual citizenship rights” for the adolescent; they have not advocated for adolescent democratic rights such as voting. Their rejection of the notion of adult-adolescent sex as a violation of the young person’s human rights in every instance is found to be based on the incorrect premise postulating a balance of power between adult and adolescent

Keywords: Children's Rights, Human Rights, Applied Linguistics

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.53-60. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 506.930KB).

Dr. Sonja Grover

Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Canada

Sonja Grover is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Lakehead University. She has published extensively in the area of children’s human rights. Her research is interdisciplinary combining social science, education and the law. Her work is a form of applied human rights advocacy highlighting needed legislative and social policy changes that will positively impact children's well- being and enhance recognition of their inherent rights and freedoms. She has a special interest in marginalized child groups. Her book “Children’s Human Rights: Challenging Global Barriers to the Child Liberation Movement” was published by Sandstone Academic Press in May, 2007.


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