Georgia parents could no longer put their children in time-outs or impose other discipline if the U.S. Senate ratifies an international treaty on children's rights. Or so says state Rep. Jay Neal (R-LaFayette) and other backers of a proposed Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Neal asked state House colleagues Tuesday to call on Congress to back a constitutional amendment declaring that parents -- not the government -- have the right to direct their children's upbringing and education.
But the clock ran out during a time-shortened meeting of the House Children and Youth Committee, and Neal's resolution was tabled, quite possibly killing it for this year's legislative session. The motion to table passed on a 9-7 vote.
Parentalrights.org, whose top officers run the Virginia-based Home School Legal Defense Association, is backing the amendment nationally. In Georgia, the group's leader is Jonathan Crumly, attorney for a non-profit that helps funnel tax-subsidized scholarships to students attending private Christian schools.
Crumly told committee members Tuesday that the treaty -- the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child -- under Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution, would become "the law of the land" if ratified. As such, he said, the treaty would override state laws regarding discipline, education and determinations of child neglect or abuse.
The treaty would prevent parents from imposing any discipline that is "unnecessarily embarrassing or confrontational," he said, "and that can and has included things like simple timeouts."
Advocates also fear the treaty could prevent parents from instilling religious views in their children, Crumly said.
Democrats on the committee pushed back, saying the amendment is not needed and is based on faulty interpretations of the treaty and U.S. Supreme Court decisions on parental rights.
The United States and Somalia are the only countries in the world that have not ratified the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child, which took effect in 1990.
Photo by Jim Walls