The growing field of childhood studies has begun to gain traction among legal scholars, many of whom are giving new thought and voice to rights of children. The author, a pioneer in advocating for children’s legal and political rights, explores the significance of children in social movements from the American Revolution to the civil rights movement, arguing that history is too quick to forget the lasting impact children have had on societal change. The author also mounts the case for increased legal recognition of children as people in their own right, rather than merely as “pre-adults,” discussing the current status of children in legal systems. Looking primarily at foster care and child welfare systems, she points out the problems with the secondary role to which children are often relegated in proceedings that purport to have their best interests at heart. Finally, the author argues that contemporary children and young adults around the world have earned the right to increased political participation by demonstrating valuable social and political insight and judgment.
The full text of this David C. Baum Memorial Lecture is available to download as a PDF.