The Courage of Innocence: Children as Heroes in the Struggle for Justice

55 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2009 Last revised: 5 Mar 2010

See all articles by Barbara Bennett Woodhouse

Barbara Bennett Woodhouse

Emory University School of Law; University of Florida Levin College of Law

Date Written: August 25, 2009


The growing field of childhood studies has begun to gain traction among legal scholars, many of whom are giving new thought and voice to rights of children. The author, a pioneer in advocating for children’s legal and political rights, explores the significance of children in social movements from the American Revolution to the Civil Rights Movement, arguing that history is too quick to forget the lasting impact children have had on societal change. The author also mounts the case for increased legal recognition of children as people in their own right, rather than merely as 'pre-adults,' discussing the current status of children in legal systems. Looking primarily at foster care and child welfare systems, she points out the problems with the secondary role children are often relegated to in proceedings that purport to have their best interests at heart. Finally, the author argues that contemporary children and young adults around the world have earned the right to increased political participation by demonstrating valuable social and political insight and judgment.

Keywords: children’s agency, children’s participation rights, children’s voice, children in civil rights movement, foster children, GLBT youth, youth participation, children’s political participation, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

Suggested Citation

Woodhouse, Barbara Bennett, The Courage of Innocence: Children as Heroes in the Struggle for Justice (August 25, 2009). 2009 Illinois Law Review 1567, Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 09-65, Available at SSRN:

Barbara Bennett Woodhouse (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-727-4934 (Phone)
404-727-6820 (Fax)

University of Florida Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States

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