All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Lynn Kirkland

Advisory Committee Members

Nataliya Ivankova

Deborah Strevy

Grace Jepkemboi

Linda Emfinger

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2011

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education

Abstract

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), an international human rights treaty, has been ratified by every State except the United States and Somalia. It contains enumerated rights, including five articles pertaining to children's participation rights such as the right to speech, privacy, association, and religion. Ratification of the CRC is controversial, particularly because religious and social conservatives deem the CRC potentially harmful to families. Major education groups are among the myriad of CRC supporters in the Untied States. Thus far, supporters have been unable to achieve ratification. The purpose of this multiple case study was to investigate the perspectives of two distinct groups: opponents and proponents of ratification. The qualitative research design, selected to explore the research goals, was especially well suited for studying the unquantifiable opinions and beliefs under investigation. The following research question guided the research: "How do proponents and opponents of ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child explain their views regarding children's participatory rights?" Particular attention was given to the participation rights contained in Articles 12 through 17. Data were gathered from participants through interviews and limited follow-up communication. Other documentary data gathered on each participant included articles, books, and blog entries. Four themes emerged in each of the two cases: rights, impact, fear/trust, and worldview. The themes were identical in both cases but the sub-themes were different, and cross-case analysis revealed substantial differences between the two cases. Opinions differed between and within cases regarding the potential tangible impact of the CRC, with views ranging from neutral to pessimistic to optimistic. After considering the findings, numerous implications and recommendations were identified. Ratification of the CRC was deemed possible, especially if the concerns of opponents were understood and addressed in a meaningful way. Further targeted research was noted as being necessary in order to identify specific concerns and remedies. Early childhood educators, in particular, could play an important role in the ratification process as mediators, interpreters, and advocates for the rights and welfare of children.

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