Timeline of Children’s Rights in the United States

The timeline of children’s rights in the United States includes various events ranging from mass demonstrations to youth activism.  Children’s rights in the U.S. have a long history dating back to the latter part of the eighteenth century and ranges from the early beginnings of European settlements in North America.

I will fast track and provide an overview of the events that transpired in the twenty-first century. The most recent children’s rights issues in the United States include child labor laws, involving a number of agricultural areas where young people between the ages of 14 and 18 generally engage in full time jobs where they only get compensated half of the minimum wage. Child custody laws are another common issue wherein non-custodial parents find it quite difficult to spend quality time with their children.

Below is a timeline of 21st century events (in chronological order) related to children’s rights in the United States:

Date: 2001

Party Involved: Immigration and Naturalization Service

Event: Some 5,385 unaccompanied children were detained by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS).

Date: 2002

Party Involved: Convention of the Rights of the Child

Event: The U.S. Senate unanimously concurs to ratify the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict as well as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. Bothprotocols, separate treaties from the Convention on the Rights of the Child, were enacted by the United Nationsin 2000.

The Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict required the ratifying governments to ensure that young people below the age of 18 cannot be conscripted although they can be accepted as army volunteers.  Moreover, state parties were asked to take all possible measures to guarantee that members of their armed forces who haven’t reached the age of 18 do not take a direct part in hostilities. The protocol came into effect on February 12, 2002.

On the other hand, the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography requires states to forbid the sale of children, child pornography and child prostitution.

Date: 2007

Party Involved: Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act

Event: The Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California for the ninth time since the 106th Congress. The act aimed to establish an Office of Children’s Service at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Date: 2008

Party Involved: Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008

Event: Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008 was introduced by George Miller, a member of the U.S. House of representatives from California’s 7th district. The act would necessitate specific standards and enforcement provisions to avoidchild abuse and neglect in residential programs, and for other purposes. It managed to pass the house on June 28, 2008.

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