Letter to the editor: The majority still overlooks the child


The rights of the child Article 3.1 states, “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” 

Note that it includes, “the best interest of the child shall be a primary consideration.” Of course, who knows the needs of the child better than the child themselves. This brings us to Article 12 which states, “For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.” 

Although it is stated that children have the constitutional right to be heard and taken seriously, there are many cases where this right is diminished or overlooked. Two specific examples are in relation to petitions for dissolution of marriage in a Washington State Superior Court and our local community. While there have been efforts by specific parties to become more inclusive and representative of the child, the majority still overlooks the child. 

In cases of divorce, judges can choose to not acknowledge the child’s preference in custody and threaten and even punish for that child’s refusal to not see a specific parent. No matter how much judges look into the life of the child, they cannot see everything that happens behind closed doors, not to mention the uniquely different beliefs held by each individual. In schools in our community, there should be more encouragement and opportunity for students to be a part of policies and decisions regarding their schools. In many government processes, children are treated more like property than people. 

Yes, I will not deny that with age comes wisdom and experience, but if you are unwilling to share that knowledge and experience and recognize the experiences of the youth today then the world will be able to go nowhere. We are people not property.

Emily Denfeld,

Battle Ground