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Children’s rights and parents’ rights: Popular attitudes about when we privilege one over the other


The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is a widely accepted human rights document and has relevance for child protection policy. This study employs an experimental design with representative samples from Norway and California (USA) to test public perceptions of children's rights in child protection. The countries have welfare states and child protection contexts that differ, and their histories contrast with regard to the UNCRC. Results show that increased severity of risk to a child does not correspond with increased weight on children’s rights. However, residents of Norway are more likely to embrace a children's rights orientation, and participants in California are more likely to accept a parents’ rights perspective. Demographics such as immigrant status and age account for some of these differences. The study contributes to the literature on children's rights and the role of the state in aligning public policy with public attitudes about children.

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