Reframing child rights to effect policy change

Sally S. Cohen, Eileen Fry-Bowers, Sandra Bishop-Josef, Moira K. O'Neill, Kristi Westphaln

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Much of the discourse surrounding children's advocacy in the United States relies on a rights-based approach. We argue that this approach has limitations that impede progress in advancing children's well-being. Purpose: The purpose of this article is to explain alternatives to a rights-based approach in advocating for children, such as developmental, economic, capabilities, and mutualism frameworks. Methods: Our analysis is based on the independent work of two separate university-based groups studying children's rights; the authors were each members of one of the groups and subsequently integrated their findings for this article. Discussion: US policies for children, especially in the domains of health and education, depict an unevenness that results in many children failing to receive certain critical services and benefits. Relying on a rights-based approach to correct these disparities and inequities is contentious and has yet to sufficiently change state and federal policies or improve children's health outcomes. Other approaches are needed to advance children's well-being. Conclusion: Nurses individually and collectively need to be mindful of the pitfalls of a rights-based approach and use other frameworks in advocating for children and youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)450-461
Number of pages12
JournalNursing outlook
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • Advocacy
  • Children
  • Developmental
  • Economic
  • Mutualism
  • Policy
  • Rights

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


Dive into the research topics of 'Reframing child rights to effect policy change'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this