Children's Rights: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Participation and Protection.


348 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 978-0-8020-9540-4
DDC 323.3'52




Edited by Tom O'Neill and Dawn Zinga
Reviewed by Elaine G. Porter

Elaine G. Porter is an associate professor of sociology at Laurentian


This interdisciplinary exploration of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children uses its universal rights discourse as a standard for assessing legislative action in countries throughout the world. Familiarity with this document is assumed, as it was not reproduced in an appendix. However, its articles are referred to throughout the book as they are used to evaluate the progress of legislation and policies in various areas of children’s lives. This is a fine-tuned analysis that finds possible opportunities for rights among child warriors in Nepal while showing the potential to extend the already rights-based language of the educational systems in Canada.


The authors argue that the CRC mandate allows for a wide variety of interpretations but that applications tend more in the direction of emphasizing protection than the need for children’s participation in decisions related to their well-being. Three of the four chapters in the first section provide a critical examination of rights in contexts in which choices for exercising children’s rights are severely constrained (civil war, varieties of contexts of non-parental care, and educational attendance). The balance between protection and rights is explored in the next three chapters based on children with intellectual disabilities, those whose parents suffer from intellectual disabilities, and children’s health policy in Canada. The final chapter in this set addresses child abuse argues for sensitive instruments attuned to children’s cognitive skills.


That the editors mean to move in the direction of according children more agency is nowhere clearer than in the chapter by Skott-Myhre and Tarulli discussing a Deleuzian rights notion of children based on their ontological status as creative beings living in the present. This notion is followed up in subsequent chapters that pursue the potential for an expansion of children’s rights within the educational system in terms of peer abuse (electronic and physical), special needs students, and a sex education programming. The authors’ understanding of the legislation and research bearing on the situation of children is used to demonstrate their deep commitment to providing children with the tools to make their own informed decisions as much as possible.


“Children's Rights: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Participation and Protection.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 25, 2024,