This Article endorses the conclusion of Etzioni's article that the First Amendment right of free speech should not trump the interests of children. However the picture is more complicated once we recognize that parents have a "basic" right to bring up their children as they see fit that may conflict with the state's duty to protect children in its jurisdiction.
Moreover there is an important difference between protecting children now from harms and safeguarding the interests of the adults they will grow into. Society has an interest in protecting children based upon its fundamental interest in ensuring the conditions of its own future existence.
The question of whether or not children do have rights is properly thought of in terms of the capacities children do or do not possess. The right to free speech is justified foundationally and not instrumentally, as realizing a basic human interest in being heard as the source of beliefs, desires, and values. Children lack the capacities to be regarded as sources of beliefs, desires, and values. Hence they do not have a right to free speech, although they do have an interest in their views on matters affecting them being heard and taken account of.
Free Speech and Children's Interests,
Chi.-Kent L. Rev.
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