Parental rights

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Parental rights is a term often referred to by parents in discussions about circumcision. Many parents (esp. in the USA) believe that their legal parental rights cover the right to circumcise their boys.

Basically, in most of the states that rely on universal human rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, parents have extensive rights in the upbringing of their children. These rights are intended to protect against harmful influences from the state (indoctrination). Under no circumstances should these parental rights be understood as a free ticket to deal with the children as they wish. The well-being of the child is always in the foreground.

Therefore it is actually more correct to speak of parental duties and parental responsibility.

It should therefore go without saying that there can be no parental right to have healthy, intact body parts cut off from their child without medical necessity and urgency. When a child is ill, it is the practice to allow a parent to grant limited surrogate informed permission for diagnostic tests and appropriate treatment.[1]


In the United Kingdom and the nations of the European Union,[2] parental responsibility refers to the rights and privileges which underpin the relationship between the children and the children's parents and those adults who are granted parental responsibility by either signing a 'parental responsibility agreement' with the mother or getting a 'parental responsibility order' from a court. The terminology for this area of law now includes matters dealt with as contact (visitation in the United States) and residence (see Residence in English law) in some states.


In Scots law, issues relative to parental responsibilities are dealt with under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995,[3] which provides for the making of 'residence' (custody), 'contact' (access), and 'specific issue' orders. These may be applied for by anyone with an interest in a child, not merely parents.[3] Under section 1 of the 1995 Act, parental responsibilities are, where practicable and in the best interests of the child, to safeguard and promote the child's health, development and welfare; provide the child with appropriate direction and guidance; maintain personal relations and direct contact with the child; act as the child's legal representative.


According to the Children Act 1989, Section 3, parental responsibility means "all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property."[4]


In the United States, parental rights are not mentioned in the United States Constitution. There is in fact an amendment draft from 2008 which hasn't become valid yet.

The United States is a federal republic in which governmental responsibilities are divided between the sovereign states and the federal government. Family law regarding parental duties and responsibilities is a matter for the several states.

See also

External links


  1. REFjournal Bioethics Committee, American Academy of Pediatrics.. Informed consent, parental permission, and assent in pediatric practice. Pediatrics. February 1995; 95(2): 314-7. PMID. Retrieved 17 March 2023.
  2. REFweb Parental rights and responsibilities: Who has parental responsibility - GOV.UK, Retrieved 14 September 2021.
  3. REFweb Children (Scotland) Act 1995, Retrieved 14 September 2021.
  4. REFweb Children Act 1989, Retrieved 14 September 2021.