Children’s Rights Alliance and the family

The Children’s Rights Alliance has issued its 2009 Report Card. It’s entitled ‘Is the Government keeping its promises to children?’ It is divided into four sections: education; material wellbeing; health and safeguarding childhood.

It gives the Government an overall grade of D. Its lowest mark is for health and its highest mark is for safeguarding childhood.

Notable by its absence from the report is any substantial treatment of the family and completely absent is any mention of family structure.

This is a typical lacuna on the part of child welfare organisations. They very heavily emphasise the role of the State in helping children and underemphasise the role of the family. When they do acknowledge the role of the family, they pay no attention to the form of family that is most helpful to children, namely marriage.

This is a terrible oversight that is motivated more by concern for adults and their feelings than for children and their wellbeing. Children’s groups are terrified at the prospect of appearing ‘judgemental’ and they believe that highlighting the positive effects of marriage for children falls into that category.

But such is the undeniable pro-child character of marriage that child welfare groups are failing children very badly when they overlook it and don’t highlight it. In fact, not doing so hugely damages their credibility.

Organisations such as the Children’s Rights Alliance need to overcome this fear of ‘judgementalism’ and follow the evidence where it leads, which is to the conclusion that children fare best, in general, when they are raised by married parents and that as many children as possible should be raised in this form of the family.

This isn’t always possible of course but that is no excuse for not encouraging marriage, however subtly.

The Children’s Rights Alliance comprises 80 organisations including the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Perhaps it might encourage the CRA in this direction?