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Title: Children's rights : a liberal framework
Author: Peto, Thomas
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis investigates children's moral and political rights and, in particular, their rights to make decisions at various stages of development. Part I outlines and defends an empirically informed liberal framework for establishing children's rights to make decisions (i.e. their 'agency rights'). This framework is grounded within a respect- and autonomy-based approach to agency rights. It engages with empirical psychology, is attentive to the role of social structures in moulding children's psychology and in creating adult-child power hierarchies, and provides a cost-benefit mechanism for deciding how to recognise moral rights in law. In so doing, this framework provides a practical way of establishing moral and political rights, while being sensitive to the empirical reality of children's capabilities, including the ways those capabilities are socially constructed, all while keeping respect for children, and children's autonomy, at its centre. I conclude that children should generally have more agency rights than are currently recognised: their psychological abilities are often better than is generally assumed; we can help develop their psychological abilities; and where weaknesses remain, we can facilitate their decision-making through support, advice and dialogue. Part II applies the framework to voting, sexual consent, and age discrimination. First, I conclude that the voting age should be lowered to (at least) 16. Second, I argue that children have a right to extensive sex and relationship education and that policies and cultural images of childhood asexuality can make children vulnerable to exploitation. I also defend legal 'closeness-of-age' exemptions, which allow some individuals below the age of consent to engage in consensual sexual relationships with people of a similar age. Finally, I argue that everyone (including children) should be protected against age discrimination and I provide a framework for deciding whether an agency right should be allocated universally, with age-restrictions, or using competence tests.
Supervisor: Butt, Daniel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Children's Rights