Robert H. Mnookin, Children's Rights: Beyond Kiddie Libbers and Child Savers, 7 J. Clinical Child Psychol. 163 (1978).
Abstract: The law of childhood is complex, but in general, children have less liberty than adults and are often held less accountable. The traditional allocation ‐ with parents having the primary power to decide ‐ is now being questioned, both from the perspective of child liberators and from the perspective of child savers. Using examples relating to a) custody disputes; b) when, if ever, life sustaining treatment for severely handicapped newborns should be discontinued; c) medical experimentation on children; and d) the institutionalization of disturbed or handicapped children, this article suggests that in many critical areas what is best for an individual child or for children in general is usually indeterminate or speculative, and is not demonstrable by scientific proof, but instead is fundamentally a matter of values. This article points out three ways psychologists can help move policy debates concerning children's rights. First, systematic research in psychology. Second, clinical psychologists can educate and train adults to communicate more effectively with children. And third, psychology should protect itself from being abused by policy makers, lawyers, or judges who in the guise of asking for “expert advice”; often ask for simple minded and clear cut answers to questions substantially beyond existing scientific or clinical knowledge.