"We need to embed a children's rights agenda instead of a parents' rights agenda."
But I've always defined my parental rights as being necessary to facilitate my parental responsibility to protect my children's rights, if that doesn't sound too convoluted. It does though, which is why we use the shorthand: parents' rights. As a Law Commission quote in this book makes clear though (and thanks to L for that link):
To talk of parental 'rights' is not only inaccurate as a matter of juristic analysis but also a misleading use of ordinary language. The House of Lords in Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority has held that the power which parents have to control or make decisions for their children are simply the necessary concomitant of their parental duties. To refer to the concept of 'right' in the relationship between parent and child is therefore likely to produce confusion, as that case itself demonstrated. As against third parties, parents clearly have a prior claim to look after or have contact with their child but that claim will always be displaced if the interests of the child indicates to the contrary. The parental claim can be recognised in the rules governing the allocation of parental responsibilities, but the content of their status wold be more accurately reflected if a new concept of 'parental responsibility' we to displace the ambiguous and confusing terms used at present. Such a change would make little difference in substance but it would reflect the everyday reality of being a parent and emphasise the responsibilities of all who are in that position.
The danger is that, as with Ms Newvell above, some people think of parents' rights in terms of power over children for their own nefarious ends - i.e., to profit or gain from them in some way. So when she says, "We need to embed a children's rights agenda instead of a parents' rights agenda," she's really implying that parents' rights and children's rights are (at least sometimes) incompatible.
In most families, of course, this isn't true at all and the parents utilise their right (responsibility) in order to further and protect the children's rights. Why? because they love them. Because anything that's of benefit to the children is of benefit to the whole family. Because it's in the instinct of parents to ensure, as far as possible, the health and happiness of their children. Who but a parent would make the necessary sacrifices to ensure this? Who but a parent experiences that feeling of sheer joy and contentment that comes from spending time with their happy child? Who but a parent feels a gnawing, unbearable anxiety when that child is not happy, or its needs are not met? This natural function can't be replicated by the state, the local authority or a children's charity, much though it may be in the interests of any of the above parties to pretend that it can.
So fine, embed a children's rights agenda. All of the home educating parents I know have never lived by any other, as far as I know. But we will assert that as parents with residence, we are the best people to protect those rights - simply because we are. And yes, poor little Khyra Ishaq died seemingly because of the sick and twisted ideas and practices of her mother and stepfather and the fact that, despite the evidence, nobody stepped in to prevent it. And yes, she had been deregistered from school. But look at this, from the AHEd anomaly campaign:
450,000 children bullied in school last year
At least 16 children commit suicide each year as a result of school bullying
So it's not just some isolated parents who cause the suffering and death of children, shocking and horrible though every single instance of it is when it happens, and yet nobody talks about mitigating the responsibility of the state or the local authority when such dreadful things happen on their watch.
The power and involvement of disinterested officials is necessary in cases like Khyra's, as is the responsible action of neighbours and the local community. It's no good saying afterwards, "We knew there was something wrong." If you know there's something wrong with a family, do something about it. If people didn't rely on the daily attendance of children at school (or otherwise it being somebody else's problem) to sort such things out, they might happen even less frequently than they already do. After all, there are such things as long summer holidays from school, which in themselves - without even thinking of the AHEd statistics above - are enough to demonstrate that school is not necessarily, as Andy Winton, the chair of the National Association of Social Workers in Education, said in the same article, "a good safety net to protect children".
It's public policy now to constantly move 'human resources' around the country, the EU - the world, even, in pursuit of jobs and for every adult to be in full-time employment and to officially promote the idea that "the best place to educate a child is actually in school," but the result of all this daily disassociation between people who live in the same neighbourhood is that people will 'keep out of it' and 'let the authorities sort it out' when something is obviously wrong, as seems to have been the case for Khyra Ishaq's family.
I don't think it's a fact that children are statistically safer in school than at home with their parents, is it? If it was, there would be moves to remove every child at birth into the care of the state, to be kept in vast institutions and looked after by strangers.
But, as Ms Newvell's words demonstrate, there is definitely an agenda afoot.