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What's Wrong with Children's Rights

What's Wrong with Children's Rights

Martin Guggenheim

ISBN 9780674025462

Publication date: 09/30/2007

"Children's rights": the phrase has been a legal battle cry for twenty-five years. But as this provocative book by a nationally renowned expert on children's legal standing argues, it is neither possible nor desirable to isolate children from the interests of their parents, or those of society as a whole.

From foster care to adoption to visitation rights and beyond, Martin Guggenheim offers a trenchant analysis of the most significant debates in the children's rights movement, particularly those that treat children's interests as antagonistic to those of their parents. Guggenheim argues that "children's rights" can serve as a screen for the interests of adults, who may have more to gain than the children for whom they claim to speak. More important, this book suggests that children's interests are not the only ones or the primary ones to which adults should attend, and that a "best interests of the child" standard often fails as a meaningful test for determining how best to decide disputes about children.


  • This book will provoke a welcome storm of debate in family, custody, and child welfare law. Martin Guggenheim makes a powerful case that it is in the most humane American tradition to support parents' rights, not as a denial of children's humanity but an affirmation of their best chance to grow and be supported within a family, with an edifice of significant barriers to state control and intervention. The issues addressed by What's Wrong with Children's Rights are timely, and will impact millions of children in the U.S. Guggenheim's arguments make us think and rethink the role of lawyers for children, guardians, social workers, and the great battery of professionals who advise judges and administrative decision-makers.

    —Bernardine Dohrn, Director of the Children and Family Justice Center, Northwestern University


  • Martin Guggenheim is Fiorello LaGuardia Professor of Clinical Law at New York University.

Book Details

  • 320 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press