This Article develops a liberal theory of freedom of expression which is sensitive to the interests of children as distinct, vulnerable but developing members of society. I argue that children have, in addition to welfare interests, interests in the development and exercise of basic moral powers. In virtue of such interests, children acquire, well before they become adults, nontrivial rights of free expression. Respecting children's rights to free expression entails limits on the prerogatives of parents and others to determine the sorts of cultural materials children should be permitted access. Nonetheless children's rights are importantly different from those of adults. Children can be insulated not only from manifestly harmful cultural materials but also from some materials that are age inappropriate (but not harmful) and from some materials that parents find offensive. The author explains how considerations of parental authority, children's welfare, children's rights of free expression, and adults' rights of free ex- pression can be coherently integrated without circumscribing the legitimate rights of adults or exposing children to objectionable cultural materials. The liberal theory the author defends provides an alternative to Amitai Etzioni's communitarian analysis of the potential threats to children posed by free speech.
Colin M. Macleod,
The Liberal Theory of Freedom of Expression for Children,
Chi.-Kent L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cklawreview/vol79/iss1/3