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Publisher Description

Do children have rights? If so, what are they? And how are these rights to be interpreted and protected in a world dramatically changed by the media children consume and communicate with? The answers to the questions about children's rights are neither as straightforward as they seem, nor as much of a consensus as many believe they should be. When we consider the effects of media on children, the questions become more complex and the answers more contentious. While most societies have come a long way from treating children as chattels or saying that they should be seen and not heard, progress that in 1989 was codified in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) (United Nations, 1989), there remain substantial disagreements on the nature of those rights. Every nation on earth has ratified the UNCRC--every nation except Somalia, a war-torn country without an effective government, and, perhaps surprisingly, the United States of America, widely regarded as one of the world's most child-friendly societies. To complicate this apparent contradiction further, freedom of speech is one of the cornerstones of the U.S. Constitution, a right that most Americans hold dear and that was adopted in concept by the rest of the world in the United Nations' 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (General Assembly of the United Nations 1948). In relation to media, our right to freedom of speech has often been used as the ultimate veto of any attempts to improve the media to which children and all of us are exposed. According to the judicial system of the United States, media producers' right to freedom of expression overrides any concerns for the effects of those media products on children.

September 1
Centre for the Study of Communication and Culture
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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