The Best Mankind Has to Give?
This concluding commentary explores and contextualizes the historical evolution of the modern conception of childhood as a prolonged period of dependency and protection in contrast to pre-modern understandings of children as necessarily useful and productive members of society. The modern notion gave birth to current international charters proclaiming a range of children’s rights and best interest protections—at least for those in the global north—in the period before they mature into adulthood and become full political subjects. The preponderance of current scientific evidence demonstrates the damage that insecurities, stress, and trauma inflict on the normal development of all children. The commentary argues that ethical factors weigh strongly in favor of guaranteeing the right of children to express their opinions, live in families, escape discrimination, and access the building blocks of full personhood through food security, shelter, health care, and education. Nonetheless, migrant children experience a sustained denial of their basic rights—not due to parental neglect, individual failings, economic opportunism, or educational shortcomings but as a result of enduring colonial legacies and state enforcement regimes that govern border control, immigration status, citizenship eligibility, and the legal impact of residence.
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