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Alistair Macdonald : The Voice of the Child: Still a Faint Cry?

Date:31 AUG 2006

Alistair Macdonald Barrister Co-Chair Association of Lawyers for Children St Philips Chambers Birmingham
The phrase 'I know my rights' is becoming a ubiquitous response on the part of the general public to perceived personal injustice. It is often instructive to note the silence that ensues when that response is met with the question 'What exactly are your rights?'. Carl Wellman the American moral philosopher argues in respect of what he terms the 'proliferation of alleged moral rights' that an inflation of rights devalues the currency and that the assertion of ungrounded rights discredits the ones that are genuine (C Wellman The Proliferation of Rights: Moral Progress or Empty Rhetoric? (Westview 1999)). As Professor Jane Fortin concludes by reference to this view and in the context of rights accruing to children and young people we must thus be careful not to claim rights for children that are difficult to substantiate and which devalue the currency of rights talk ('Children's Rights: Substance or Spin' [2006] Fam Law 759). The right of children to be heard on issues affecting...

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