Television, Teenagers, Parents And Programming...Who Is Right?

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Television, teenagers, parents and programming...who is right?

Rights-based programming with adults seeks to challenge the social, cultural, economic and political forces that disempowered individuals and communities, and render them vulnerable to rights violations. Ultimately, the goal is the dismantling of those forces in order to end discrimination, injustice and powerlessness, and achieve the full realisation of rights. Whilst it represents a daunting challenge, such a goal is possible, because the forces which render adults vulnerable to rights abuses are, at least in principle, capable of being changed.

In other words, whilst rights-based approaches which advocate for changes to the external barriers can be effective for adults, the same is only partially true for children. For example, small children will never be economically independent, independently able to use the media or the courts to seek redress, or able to exercise free choice in respect of their education. This means that different strategies for protection of their rights need to be developed.

Furthermore, most marginalised groups are fighting for equal respect for their rights alongside other adults, and the removal of the barriers which impede that equality. CEDAW, CERD and now the new disability convention are not seeking to establish new rights . Rather, they were developed to provide more explicit obligations on states parties to respect existing human rights for women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities. For children, the issue of equality is somewhat different. Of course, ending discrimination between different groups of children is imperative. Equal respect for the rights of all children without discrimination is an explicit obligation under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. And some of the discrimination children experience relates to their treatment as a consequence of their childhood status, not because they belong to any particular group of children.

For example, many countries discriminate against children in that they are the only group of people not entitled to full protection from all forms of violence under the law. However, the Convention does not simply seek to assert pre-existing rights and ensure their application to children. It introduces additional rights in recognition of children's unique childhood status and consequent entitlement to additional protection. Accordingly, it does not give children equal rights with adults. The Convention does not provide them with entitlement to autonomy or legal capacity.

This different dimension to the Convention on the Rights of the Child poses an intrinsic dilemma in respect of CRP. The fundamental basis of rights-based programming is directed towards the goals of empowerment, and equal rights of participation of marginalised groups in the process of development. Yet one fundamental basis of the CRC is to ensure that children are not treated as equals with adults. They are entitled to protection from many of the areas of life that marginalised adults are fighting for the equal right of access to - the right to work, to marry, to have children, to equality before the law, to equal legal capacity - although the nature of the protection children need will change ...
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