Skip to content

Parental Rights are guaranteed

Guaranteeing the fundamental rights of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children.  

0 +
countries with current case
and legal matters
active cases
victories all time

Why is the protection of parental rights vital?

Parents take care of us before we can take care of ourselves. They bring us into the world. They teach us to walk, to talk, and to love. They prepare us to enter society and live as upstanding citizens. This is why parents have the right, enshrined in international human rights law, to direct the education and upbringing of their children.

Parents have a God-given duty to care for, raise, and educate their children without undue interference from the State. Scripture contains many commands to parents – but none to the State – about properly raising and training their children.

After the flood, God instituted civil government as a servant and minister to protect liberty and promote public order. The State administers justice within defined and limited parameters. Human flourishing depends in part on the State fulfilling its designated role and no more, thereby leaving space for individuals and families to freely operate – and for parents to maintain responsibility for the upbringing of their children.

Today’s world likes to think children belong to the State, which has ultimate authority.

Of all the people who share in shaping a child’s moral character and the adults they become – from teachers and coaches to spiritual mentors, extended family, and others – parents have the deepest and most enduring influence. The men and women we become often reflect the men and women our parents are.

Everyone should care about how children are raised. They become our leaders of tomorrow, after all.

Everyone also should be able to agree that, in most cases, parents are best positioned to protect their children’s health and welfare.

Although the law clearly recognizes the rights of parents, parental rights are under attack from the agendas taking over various institutions, such as public school. Increasingly, these threats are targeting a parent’s right to physically protect their child from harm, such as in the area of gender “transition”.

Sometimes, tragically, parents fail at providing their children’s most basic needs. When that happens, the government plays an important role. But absent situations where intervention is required, the State should never replace parents.

"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

What is the legal framework for parental rights?

The United Nations General Assembly enshrined protections for children, parents, and the family into the core instruments that make up the International Bill of Rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the foundation of the modern human rights project, recognized that strong families built on parental rights were necessary to rebuild healthy societies.

It makes clear in Article 26(3) that, “parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 18(4) holds that States must respect “the liberty of parents … to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.”

The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights Article 13(3) binds States to respect “the liberty of parents … to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities.”

And the Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes the unique importance of parents, holding States accountable to respect the “rights and duties of parents,” Article 5, and referring to the child’s right “to know and be cared for” by parents, Article 7 (1). Parents, in Article 18(1), are acknowledged to “have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child.” This is because the child’s best interests are the parents’ basic concern.

Regional Laws

Article 12(4) of the American Convention on Human Rights states that, “Parents or guardians, as the case may be, have the right to provide for the religious and moral education of their children or wards that is in accord with their own convictions.”

Similarly, Article 14(3) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union holds that, “the right of parents to ensure the education and teaching of their children in conformity with their religious, philosophical and pedagogical convictions shall be respected….,” echoed in Article 2 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Across the globe, courts and legislatures often have failed to protect parental rights from government interference. Our goal is a world in which the rights of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is guaranteed.

We at ADF International are working to achieve wins for parental rights that will span generations so that our children will have a brighter future, holding States accountable to their parental rights obligations.

We are defending the fundamental rights of parents in our work to: 

Related Cases

News & Commentaries


Protect Parental Rights

Your gift can guarantee parental rights by supporting our worldwide advocacy.

Stay Informed

Get involved! Sign up to receive updates:

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.