Hidden in Plain Sight: The Tragedy of Children's Rights from Ben Franklin to Lionel Tate

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Tragedy of Children's Rights from Ben Franklin to Lionel Tate

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Tragedy of Children's Rights from Ben Franklin to Lionel Tate

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Tragedy of Children's Rights from Ben Franklin to Lionel Tate


Hidden in Plain Sight tells the tragic untold story of children's rights in America. It asks why the United States today, alone among nations, rejects the most universally embraced human-rights document in history, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This book is a call to arms for America to again be a leader in human rights, and to join the rest of the civilized world in recognizing that the thirst for justice is not for adults alone.

Barbara Bennett Woodhouse explores the meaning of children's rights throughout American history, interweaving the childhood stories of iconic figures such as Benjamin Franklin with those of children less known but no less courageous, like the heroic youngsters who marched for civil rights. How did America become a place where twelve-year-old Lionel Tate could be sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 1999 death of a young playmate? In answering questions like this, Woodhouse challenges those who misguidedly believe that America's children already have more rights than they need, or that children's rights pose a threat to parental autonomy or family values. She reveals why fundamental human rights and principles of dignity, equality, privacy, protection, and voice are essential to a child's journey into adulthood, and why understanding rights for children leads to a better understanding of human rights for all.

Compassionate, wise, and deeply moving, Hidden in Plain Sight will force an examination of our national resistance--and moral responsibility--to recognize children's rights.


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. To the extent that young people and their voices are excluded from our histories and our debates, we walk blind and deaf into our future.

This book, my first, is a very different project from the thousands of pages of articles and book chapters I have written during twenty years as a scholar. It is different from the dozens of legal briefs I have authored and the mountains of memoranda I produced as a law clerk to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. In this book, I tell a story about children's rights, trying to make it as free of legal and academic jargon as I can, so it may be accessible to all. After two chapters devoted to theory, the book is a series of essays blended with narrative and tied together by law and history. Academic debate and endnotes play a supporting, not a starring, role.

In this book, I draw upon a lifetime of research and experience as an academic but also as a child and daughter, nursery school teacher, parent and foster parent, and a grandparent. My professional involvement as a law professor and an advocate for children has spanned more than two decades. Along the way, I have invariably learned more from my colleagues, friends, family, students, and clients than I could ever have imagined or repay.

For this reason, it would be impossible to thank by name all the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.