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Hidden in Plain Sight

The Tragedy of Children's Rights from Ben Franklin to Lionel Tate

by Barbara Bennett Woodhouse


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Hidden in Plain Sight tells the tragic untold story of children's rights in America. It asks why the United States today, alone among nations, rejects the most universally embraced human-rights document in history, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This book is a call to arms for America to again be a leader in human rights, and to join the rest of the civilized world in recognizing that the thirst for justice is not for adults alone. Barbara Bennett Woodhouse explores the meaning of children's rights throughout American history, interweaving the childhood stories of iconic figures such as Benjamin Franklin with those of children less known but no less courageous, like the heroic youngsters who marched for civil rights. How did America become a place where twelve-year-old Lionel Tate could be sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 1999 death of a young playmate? In answering questions like this, Woodhouse challenges those who misguidedly believe that America's children already have more rights than they need, or that children's rights pose a threat to parental autonomy or family values. She reveals why fundamental human rights and principles of dignity, equality, privacy, protection, and voice are essential to a child's journey into adulthood, and why understanding rights for children leads to a better understanding of human rights for all. Compassionate, wise, and deeply moving, Hidden in Plain Sight will force an examination of our national resistance—and moral responsibility—to recognize children's rights.

Publication Details

Princeton University Press
Publication Date:


  • Adobe PDF eBook 6.6 MB

Barbara Bennett Woodhouse (Author)

Barbara Bennett Woodhouse is the L.Q.C. Lamar Professor of Law and codirector of the Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic at Emory Law School. She is also the David H. Levin Chair Emeritus in Family Law at the University of Florida.

More about Barbara Bennett Woodhouse
Hidden in Plain Sight
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