Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Foreword

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pp. xi-xiv

We’ve all met children who push their parents’ limits. These children challenge their rules, criticize their decisions, and complain about their incompetence. Visiting a household with children behaving like this, we might well find them annoying. But, guess what? ...

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Preface

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pp. xv-xviii

When the editors of Princeton’s new series, The Public Square, presented me with a chance to speak on a topic that too often has been overlooked, I jumped at it. Children, their rights, and their role in the American experience have much to teach us. ...

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Introduction: Ain’t I a Person?

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pp. 1-14

The boy I shall call Tony was not very tall or strong for his age, but he was intense, intelligent, and articulate. Tony had been removed from his mentally ill mother’s care at age four because of medical neglect. He and his younger half sister had spent the previous nine years in various foster homes. ...

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Chapter 1 How to Think about Childhood

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pp. 15-28

Childhood has many meanings.2 To physicians and psychologists it is a stage of human development to be studied and analyzed. To historians it is a term whose meaning varies from epoch to epoch and according to race, class, and region. To anthropologists it is a social phenomenon to be observed in cultural context. ...

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Chapter 2 How to Think about Children’s Rights

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pp. 29-48

Children have a present value of their own as young humans, not just as potential adults or as a means to adult ends. This was brought home to me at the 2002 U.N. Special Session on Children, when a young delegate from the Children’s Summit spoke the words that begin this chapter. ...

Part 1 The Privacy Principle: Stories of Bondage and Belonging

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Chapter 3 Boys in Slavery and Servitude: Frederick Douglass

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pp. 51-74

As a boy growing up in slavery, the great orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass acknowledged and reflected on his common bond with children everywhere. In his bleakest moments, during a time when his master was trying to break his will at hard labor, he took comfort from the fact that his bondage did not set him so far apart from his peers. ...

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Chapter 4 Girls at the Intersection of Age, Race, and Gender: Dred Scott’s Daughters

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pp. 75-92

Frederick Douglass’s story illustrates how history has been blinded to the implications of his status as a minor by the spotlight it has shown on his status as a slave. What about the enslaved children whose stories were even more marginalized because they were not only young and black, but also female? ...

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Chapter 5 Growing Up in State Custody: “Tony” and “John G.”

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pp. 93-108

In chapter 3, we saw that emancipation did not free black children. Thousands of children who had been enslaved were taken from their parents by the state and placed in involuntary apprenticeships or indentures. In those days, an era when most children worked, these children were put out to work as servants and field hands, often with their original masters, and effectively reenslaved. ...

Part 2 The Agency Principle: Stories of Voice and Participation

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Chapter 6 The Printer’s Apprentice: Ben Franklin and Youth Speech

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pp. 111-132

Terms like “agency” and “voice” and “self-expression” have a modern ring. Americans might be excused for believing that assertive children were something new, a plague we have brought upon ourselves by failing to exercise appropriate dominion over our young. ...

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Chapter 7 Youth in the Civil Rights Movement: John Lewis and Sheyann Webb

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pp. 133-156

In the last chapter we looked at children using their voices and expressive symbols to make their views known and their agency felt. What about children who go beyond expressing their opinions in the public square and challenge injustice in their acts as well as words? ...

Part 3 The Equality Principle: Stories of Equal Opportunity

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Chapter 8 Old Maids and Little Women: Louisa Alcott and William Cather

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pp. 159-179

Historically, American boys and girls, whatever their parents’ status, inhabited different worlds. Childhood invariably reflects society’s expectations for adulthood and, in nineteenth-century America, gender cut a wide swath across every form of cultural expectation. Boys were expected to graduate into manhood, and full political and social citizenship was reserved for men only. ...

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Chapter 9 Breaking the Prison of Disability: Helen Keller and the Children of “Greenhaven”

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pp. 180-210

Although there are differences between males and females, we generally assume they are born with equal if different capacities. What about children who are not born equal or suffer traumas that render them unequal? Whether we call them handicapped, exceptional, disabled, or differently abled, many children must face obstacles due to differences that cannot be regarded as primarily culturally or legally imposed. ...

Part 4 The Dignity Principle: Stories of Resistance and Resilience

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Chapter 10 Hide and Survive: Anne Frank and “Liu”

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pp. 213-233

Children everywhere, in common with the young of many species, instinctively know and love to play the game of “hide and seek.” I remember the delicious suspense of hiding with my best friend Sally, packed like sardines in a kitchen pantry and suppressing our giggles, while the big boys prowled the house, ...

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Chapter 11 Children at Work: Newsboys, Entrepreneurs, and “Evelyn”

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pp. 234-256

Dignity is not an abstract right but a developmental dialogue between the child and his or her environment. In the first months of their lives, infants learn that they are individuals through interaction with those around them. “The ability for self-observation comes from the ability to observe oneself and another in a relationship.”3 ...

Part 5 The Protection Principle: Stories of Guilt and Innocence

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Chapter 12 Telling the Scariest Secrets: Maya Angelou and “Jeannie”

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pp. 259-278

I have kept the protection principle for last not because it is less important but because I fear the focus on protection of children viewed as “victims” plays too dominant a role in American child policy. Removing children from their families is always far easier than creating an ecology of childhood in which they can grow up healthy and strong. ...

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Chapter 13 Age and the Idea of Innocence: “Amal” and Lionel Tate

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pp. 279-303

The protection principle obligates adults to protect children—the small, the weak, and the vulnerable— from harm at the hands of adults. But what about children who are perpetrators of violence? The right to protection has another face quite different from the protection of crime victims. ...

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Conclusion: The Future of Rights

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pp. 304-314

In May of 2002, over three hundred child delegates from around the world traveled to the United States for a Children’s Forum, the first of its kind to be held in connection with a U.N. Special Session. They produced a document titled “A World Fit for Us” and presented it as a message to the Special Session of the General Assembly on May 8, 2002.1 ...

Notes

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pp. 315-336

Bibliography

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pp. 337-348

Index

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pp. 349-358