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Does the right to culture (religion & free thought) apply to children as they are born and grow up?

In Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we read: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion". Does the right to culture (religion & free thought) apply to children as they are born and grow up?


Does a child from the day he/she is born has truly the right to culture and free thought since he/she is nurtured inside the family and according to this family’s culture and is not able to choose his/her own religion; beliefs etc. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects (maybe) the culture of a society but does it really protect the culture of a person? What is the wide perception of what culture is and how it is used? Does it serve for the best or not? Is culture used as an innocent term to define the history of groups or as a means to create closed societies? And what is the role of children? Are they supposed to be part of a culture just because they were born into it or are they being used and deprived of the right to make their own choices? Is the lack of education formal or informal a part of this? These are the questions that will be argued in this essay in order to discover the validity of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights regarding the children of the world.



Chapter 1:

-History and analysis of the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ specifically of ‘Article 18’ and relevant articles that concern the ‘right to culture’,

- Article 18 and more Articles that concern the right to culture

Chapter 2:


-What is culture, how do we define and understand culture

- High and Low Context cultures

Chapter 3:

Psychology and Social Science: Children and how do they grow up and acquire their beliefs

Chapter 4:

Do we consider a child a ‘person’?

Chapter 5:

How are children raised in different parts of the world and in different cultural environments, regarding their liberty to choose their freedom of thought and their cultural identity? Examples that show the role of parenting in the future of their personalities

1. Example related to religious beliefs

2. Example related to political beliefs

3. Example related to high-context cultures

A. American Indian

B. India

C. Russia

4. Example related to low-context cultures

Chapter 6:

Quantitative and qualitative research, evidence found supporting the argument

-Part 1

-Part 2

-Part 3

-Part 4

-Conclusion of the findings



In Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human, Rights we read: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion". Does the right to culture (religion & free thought) apply to children as they are born and grow up?


In this essay, we will explore if children are benefited from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the other complementary Declarations and Conventions that concern the Right to culture, and free thought.

In the first Chapter, we will explain what is the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’, why, when, and how it was adopted. We will also analyze to an extent the specific articles that concern the subject of culture. Specifically, We will discuss Article 18 of the Declaration and present conflict with similar Articles. We will argue that in no Article there is a specific protection or provision that concerns the children’s right to culture and free thought and also that culture and cultural life cannot even be legally specified. We will also argue that children are a minority and should be treated with the same rights as minorities for which there are provisions about their rights concerning culture.

In the next Chapter, we will explain what culture is and argue that culture not only is basically unidentifiable but is also used to shape closed totalities that groups of people form according to their views and opinions. We will argue that the need for a mass has basically created a world divided into different cultures in order to serve the status of today’s society and this leads to the lack of cross-cultural education and experience for children. In addition, We will present the difference between low and high cultures as this plays a role in the raising of children today regarding culture and their right to choose.

It is important to understand that our behaviors as adults are formed in these early ages we call childhood; therefore psychology is in total need to be integrated into politics and social sciences. In chapter 3 we will do exactly that as we will analyze how children, form their personalities and their characters according to the cultural habits of their parents, and how as adults they become the continuance of their parents. This is important because children will evolve according to what they learn so if they don’t learn from a neutral point of view of all the cultures they will subconsciously choose the cultures of their environment and, therefore, lose their real right of choice.

And this is what really happens as the next 3 chapters demonstrate. In Chapter 4 it is understood what being a ‘person’ means, a true entity with rights and responsibilities, and how children are deprived of this way of existence. And in Chapter 5 we will explain using examples, how children are raised in the world and how the ways they are raised influence their liberty to choose how to think and their overall culture. we will use examples that are related to religious beliefs and how parents are shaping their children according to them without giving them the opportunity to know the ‘different’. We will also present examples related to political beliefs in which the same pattern is noticed creating followers even of extreme notions or citizens that lack the ability to influence politics and therefore their lives. We will also present example that is related to high and low-context culture as we will explain these, in Chapter 2. We will demonstrate that in either case children are influenced by their environments to such an extent that they cannot finally make their own completely independent decisions about culture. Also, that they never gain the knowledge to be able to not subject to subconscious influences.

This last part will be very obvious in chapter 6. For this Chapter, primary research was conducted by the author. The research has two scales, a quantitative scale and a qualitative scale.

For this research, parents, both men and women, were asked to complete a questionnaire with ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers to questions. Specifically, they were asked questions about the ways they are raising their children with regards to culture. In the qualitative questions, parents were asked questions for the same of course issue but for the sole purpose of helping us explain in detail the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions. The research aims to make us understand how parents raise their children; if they educate the children about cultures that are not considered their own; and if they consider the children entities with the same rights as them, therefore free to choose their thoughts and their overall culture. The results of the research supported what the previous chapters support, that overall children are not really the beneficiaries of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and especially Article 18.

Chapter 1

History and analysis of the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights' specifically of ‘Article 18’, and relevant articles that concern the ‘right to culture’.

This essay will argue that the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights concerning the right to culture may lack or have not taken into account children and their right to culture and also, that the Articles don’t have special references to children. In addition, they don't consider children as ‘a person’, an entity, and overall that children belong to what often the articles call as ‘all’ and ‘everyone’. Article 18 is the beginning of this discussion. But throughout the Declaration there are other articles that are relevant and we will present the potential conflicts between them.

In 1948 and after a long time of war (WWII) and conflict that killed and exploited in the worst way millions of people, the United Nations decided to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 and is currently made up of one hundred and ninety-three Member States (United Nations 2, 1945). The mission and work of the United Nations are guided by the purposes and principles contained in its founding Charter which was signed on June 26, 1945, in San Francisco, at the conclusion of the ‘United Nations Conference on International Organization’, and came into force on the 24th of October in 1945 (United Nations 3,1945). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a set of thirty articles for the fundamental rights of people no matter where they live in the world, and what their cultural background is (United Nations, 1948). It is a document that was drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world (United Nations, 1948). It was proclaimed by the ‘United Nations General Assembly in Paris on the 10th of December in 1948 with article 217A (General Assembly, 1948, p.71) ‘as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations’ (United Nations, 1948). In his message for Human Rights Day, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said: “While human rights abuses did not end when the Universal Declaration was adopted, the Declaration has helped countless people to gain greater freedom and security. It has helped to prevent violations, obtain justice for wrongs, and strengthen national and international human rights laws and safeguards” (Lee, 2017).

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance”.

Moreover in Article 14(1) of the ‘Convention on the Rights of the Child’ that was adopted by the ‘United Nations General Assembly resolution (44/25) (United Nations 8, 1989) we read that:

“States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”.

In both these articles, freedom of religion; thought; belief, and overall culture, are fundamental not only to be expressed as a community ideal but also in terms of ‘alone’. So one as a person has the right to believe what he/she wants according to his/her freedom of thought. I, as a person, am free to think whatever I want and to believe or not in any God I wish or not to believe and worship the clouds or the cats or nothing at all, and to practice whatever makes sense to me in relation to my beliefs. Nevertheless, many believe that cultural rights have not really been given much attention by separate governments (Yee, cited in, Brems, 2006, p.28).

The broad nature of culture, for which we will discuss more in Chapter 2, makes it difficult to have a strict legal definition of what exactly it means to participate freely in cultural life (Niec, cited in Brems, 2006, p.28).

According to the ‘Committee on Economic; Social; and Cultural Rights’ (CESCR) (United Nations 6, 1985), which monitors the implementation of the ‘International Covenant on Economic; Social; and Cultural Rights’ (United Nations 7, 1966) by its States parties, when ‘The Right to Take Part in Cultural Life as Recognized in Article 15 of the Covenant’ (United Nations 7, 1966) was discussed, the conclusion was that “cultural rights are underdeveloped because of a lack of clarity about their legal nature and content” (CESCR Committee, 1992, cited in Brems, 2006, p.28).

This sentence comes to contradict the whole essence of the Declaration of Human Rights. When there is a sentence that claims that culture and cultural life cannot be specified, especially legally, then there is an open window to possibly misinterpret the various articles of the Declaration or to use them in a faulty way. For example, Article 7 of the Declaration says:

“All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination” (United Nations, 1948).

But what exactly constitutes a violation on the matter of the right to culture when culture cannot even be legally expressed?

Although in this essay my main issue concerns Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we already mentioned its relation to 2 articles, and there are even more (Note 1) of them relevant to the argument. For example, Article 5, again of the ‘Convention on the Rights of the Child’ (United Nations 8, 1989) says:

“States Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents (or other legal guardians) to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights recognized in the present Convention”.

And of course, respect for the views of the child was one of the guiding principles of this Convention and it makes absolutely sure that the children will be heard and that their views will be given the appropriate ‘weight’ (Kravchuk, 2014, p.26). It also makes sure that as adults we must recognize the value of their own experiences and that children can and do form opinions from a very early age (Kravchuk, 2014, p.26). The issue lies in how do they form their opinions, and if the way they finally form their opinions cancels all these articles put together.

Cultural Rights seemed to be a difficult subject to be made specific, from the beginning, when the Declaration was drafted (Morsink, 1999, cited in, Stamatopoulou, 2007, p.13). The main issue was whether Cultural Rights are only individual rights or they must be dealt with and recognized as group rights and minority rights in particular (Morsink, 1999, cited in, Stamatopoulou, 2007, p.13). This discussion was controversial during, for example, the procedures for the Article 27 of the Declaration, when the ‘Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide’ was being prepared with discussions as to whether the Declaration should also address ‘cultural genocide’ besides physical or ‘biological genocide’ (Morsink, 1999, cited in, Stamatopoulou, 2007, p.13).

Article 27(1) says:

“Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits” (United Nations, 1948).

Note 1:For further analysis of the article on the rights of children I suggest ‘Article 14, The Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion, A Commentary on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child by Eva Bremms edited by Alen, et al, (2006)

Even more so it was only in 1992 that the ‘Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National, Ethnic, Religious or Linguistic Minorities’ was adopted by the United Nations (United Nations 4, 1992), and in 2007 when the ‘Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ was adopted (United Nations 5, 2007). One example is the Article 15(1) from the latter, which says:

“Indigenous peoples have the right to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information” (United Nations 5, 2007).

But if one thinks about the lack of legal framing of culture, as I mentioned earlier, isn’t this lack of legal capacity the essence of the concept of ‘minority’? (O’Donnell, 2014, cited in, Kravchuk, 2014, p.33). So can’t we categorize children as a minority in matters of culture and consider them to deserve the cultural rights of what we already consider as minorities like the Indigenous peoples?

I am positive this is a difficult concept to follow but as it will explained in chapters 5 and 6, children are basically considered more or less like people with no ability and right to form their own opinions and to decide uninfluenced by their environments what to be or who to be as a person. More or less they are secluded in particular environments with no access to information about their rights and the status of the world.

And this brings us to the concept of information.

Information and access to it is a key aspect of this essay. To continue our argument we will add Article 19 of the Declaration which says:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” (United Nations, 1948).

AndweI will give more emphasis to this article by adding Articles 13 and 17 of the ‘Convention on the Rights of the Child’ (United Nations 8, 1989) that also say in the same order that:

“The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice”,


“States Parties recognize the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health”.

This phrase, ‘to seek and receive and impart information and ideas from everywhere’ makes me think of the importance of this access to information. When the National and University Library of Sarajevo was destroyed by bombs the international community was outraged not just because this was a building but because it was a strong symbol of Bosnian multiculturalism and it was a place where one seeks for information (Edwards, Edwards, 2010, p.7). The same outrage was expressed when the Iraq National Library and Archive was burned and ravaged by looters in 2003 and when later the United States’ military used it as a strategic base (Edwards, Edwards, 2010, p.7). What created this outrage was not the materialistic side; the buildings are not what matter, but what the unique; priceless; centuries-old; and fundamentally irreplaceable materials inside the building represent (Edwards, Edwards, 2010, p.7). They represent the information; the knowledge of our separate cultures; the ability to have all the information we choose to have for any subject on our culture or on another culture we may wish to obtain and overall, even maybe our identity or the identity we may choose to have after obtaining this information. Historically, any destruction of a cultural heritage monument has affected our knowledge about culture. And usually, the aim of each such destruction, apart from economic exploitation, was exactly that. Destructions have made us poorer as far as our information input. I can only think of the Ancient Greek Library in Alexandria and I can try to imagine what advances we could have made today if this still existed. And I can imagine what the future generations will have forgotten about their culture after the destruction of the Temple of Baalshamin one of the best-preserved ruins at the Syrian site of Palmyra from ISIS (Curry, 2015). Yet, as we will argue in this essay in the final chapters, we are not outraged when children don’t have actual access to information, don’t have an overall knowledge of the world and the cultures beyond those of their close environments; and it seems that these articles, like others, exclude a vast amount of the population that is children.

We will close this chapter with, Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:

“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status” (United Nations, 1948).

It is understandable that Rights started as individual but have traveled through time and became somewhat more of a group rights (Stamatopoulou, 2007, p.16) but still, we do not see any reference to children, concerning freedom of thought; belief; religion; and therefore culture. And children in the United States of America alone, consist of about twenty-four and a half percent (24.5%) of the population, a quite distinct minority, from ages zero to seventeen, according to the last statistics in 2009, and are projected to be around twenty-one percent (21%) of the population in 2029 (FORUM), while in China, according to data from 2015, in one percent (1%) National Population Sample Survey, the child population aged zero to seventeen was two hundred and seventy-one million, accounting for almost twenty percent (20%) of the total national population of the country (National Bureau of Statistics of China, 2017). Quite a big number one would think, to not to consider them as persons or individuals or even minorities, while we say that we implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And this is the issue we will unfold in chapter four. But for now, I would like to move on to the subject of culture and discuss our perception of it.

Chapter 2


In this chapter and since we are speaking of culture, we will give the concept of it, since it is essential to understand what culture is and some differences between high and low context cultures and to see if these differences do play a role in our matter of concern.

What is culture; how do we define and understand culture?

According to Edward B. Tylor (1958, cited in, Jenks & Jenks, 2004, pp.32,33), when he gave the definition in 1871 and first used this particular term, culture is “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society”.

In a sense he describes and considers culture as the way of life of people; the sum of their learned behavior patterns, attitudes, and material things (Hall, 1959, cited in Nishimura, et al, 2008). As Tylor was referring to culture as a sum of the character and content of human belief systems, James Frazer (1980, cited in, Jenks & Jenks, 2004, p.33) gave a different touch in the overall thinking about culture. He was concerned about the formation of culture and about primitive knowledge and forms of explanation, that build these belief systems, and he addressed to culture as a photo-scientific epistemology that is created from the misconception of the relationship between events (Jenks & Jenks, 2004, p.33). In the end, it is established, although not in relation to the law as I said in Chapter 1, that culture is what people collectively do in their different ways, in different places, and at different times (Jenks & Jenks, 2004, p.34). A rather simple definition that doesn’t really help in the legal aspect of it and it creates more of a cloud rather than a clear understanding.

This derived from the influence of Karl Marx (Jenks & Jenks, 2004, p.34) to serve an era where culture created more problems for the leaders than solutions and it had to disappear in order to achieve the mentality of the ‘mass’, a common aspect in many totalitarian regiments. An example of that is the case of Spain, where Franco’s dictatorship imposed this vision of an antidemocratic, Catholic, and conservative ‘Spanishness’, with one central language, the Castellaño (today’s Spanish), one religion, one nationality, and a distortion of many regional cultural symbols (Stappell, 2010, p.2). This meant creating the country’s own official national identity as a whole and therefore a forgotten individual and regionalist culture. Kind of like in the example of the English rule in Great Britain, concerning the Scottish culture prohibition as a punishment for the revolution that led to the Battle of Culloden, to which after, Highland dress was banned in Scotland, and tartan and everything else that proclaimed a Scottish identity went underground (Cook, 2017).

I think, in order to understand culture in its core, and give it a definition that is more to the point, I will repeat what Kroeber and Kluckhohn (1952, cited in Jenks & Jenks, 2004, p. 36) say:

“Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behavior, acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievement of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional (i.e. historically derived and selected) ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, on the other as conditioning elements of further action”.

This is a far more detailed term and it conceptualizes what Dinstein (1979, cited in Brems, 2006, p.29) considers, that culture is a flexible term, which can be employed either in a broad sense covering the whole gamut of human knowledge or in a narrower meaning depending on the specific content.

Now, members of a certain society internalize the cultural components of that society and act within the limits as set out by what is ‘culturally acceptable’ (Hall, 1983, cited in Nishimura, et al, 2008). Many scholars tell us that this is a key development in the area of culture as it has resulted in the plurality of cultures to be isolated; discrete; integrally organized totalities (Malinowski, 1939 & 1944, Radcliffe-Brown, 1952 & 1957, cited in, Jenks & Jenks, 2004, p.35). Totalities that are self-contained systems, which reproduce specific values and symbols, which signpost ways of behavior and social relationships (Stavenhagen, cited in, Brems, 2006, p.30).

So culture has reached the point of being subconscious and acting as an invisible control mechanism operating in our thoughts (Hall, 1983, cited in, Nishimura, et al, 2008), and we become aware of it only by our exposure to a different culture. This is a key point in our argument, as you will read in chapter 5, as we will argue through secondary research, that children are subjected to this subconscious procedure therefore they do not have the chance to clearly be subjective in their decision on matters of culture. This will enhance the argument in combination to the information in Chapter 3 where we will explain how do children evolve and perceive the world and how internal beliefs are created.

High and Low context cultures

These self-contained systems that we call different cultures are categorized. This is also a result of the development of culture as a totality and it is a dividing means to help us define it a little bit more. The words difference and division are key elements nowadays when we think of culture and are often used as a political means. The separation of different cultures into low and high-context cultures is another step in this direction and puts culture in the center of political and economic ‘evolution' if we can use this word ironically.

Context is basically the environment in which communication happens (Hall, 1976, cited in Croucher, et al, 2012, p.65), and the difference between high or low-context communication is that high-context communication or messages are the ones in which most of the information is either in the physical context or internalized in the person while very little is in the coded, explicit, transmitted part of the message, while in low-context messages, most of the information is vested in the explicit code. So the difference between the styles by which each individual communicates in his/her own organized totality is the high or low context.

High-context cultures are considered to be unified and stable, valuing collectivism and the good of the group, while people rely on their history and their values and often religion and status in order to interpret an event (Nishimura, et al, 2008, p.785).

Low-context cultures on the other hand, value more individualism and prioritize the needs of the person (Triandis, Brislin, Hui, 1988; cited in, Pryor, Butler, Boehringer, 2005, cited in, Nishimura, et al, 2008, p.785), they are less expressive and need codes deriving from logic to communicate. In the table below we can see the difference between countries and identities and how they are categorized in relation to the essence of their self-contained systems although some differences may be found today since the 1990’s.

Image 1 (Hall & Hall, 1990, cited in Nishimura, et al, 2008, p.786)

In a collectivist culture, individual expression can be frowned upon and even though the world is a bit flatter nowadays, it is still considered bad to do your own thing in Japan for example, or to have too much money in Denmark in another example (Kanopy, 2016). To the point, for children growing up in these specific environments and especially in cases of a collectivist culture, how much freedom is there for them to form a unique identity and have freedom of thought? Different cultures have different rules and in each culture, in a case of deviation, we are even concerned about the sanity of the person (From Kanopy, 2016). Culture is a set of norms -because they are considered as ‘the normal’- that are established in a society in order to prevent chaos ( Kanopy, 2016). But this concept automatically puts children in a specific set of behaviors and beliefs and shapes them into their future in a way that, when they become adults, they already have established beliefs and a predicted way of thinking. This is what Chapters 3 and 4 will show adding to our argument.

Chapter 3

Psychology and Social Science: Children and how do they grow up and acquire their beliefs

In this chapter, we will deviate a bit but even though this subject seems to belong in a psychology essay we will show that politics and especially human rights are in direct relation to psychology. We can only understand the point that this essay argues only if we understand that the behaviors of an adult are determined when he/she is a child. A child is forming his/her personality from the early stages till adolescence and the choices of his/her in life as an adult are very much dependent on this. So if children are raised in an established set of beliefs, in particular environments, according to the family’s culture and preferences, and dependent on these family preferences, where exactly is the validity of Article 18?

As Cousin (cited in, McDougal, 2015, p.11), a philosopher who conceived the relation of psychology to the social sciences, says:

“The various manifestations and phases of social life are all traced back to tendencies of human nature from which they spring, from five fundamental wants each of which has corresponding to it a general idea. The idea of the useful gives rise to mathematical and physical science, industry, and political economy; the idea of the just to civil society, the State, and jurisprudence; the idea of the beautiful to art; the idea of God to religion and worship; and the idea of truth in itself, in its highest degree and under its purest form, to philosophy”.

So this chapter is dedicated to these subconscious procedures of our brain and more importantly to children’s brains that are responsible for the evolution of these manifestations. Consciousness is basically the phenomenal awareness and awareness is the ability to acknowledge our percepts, thoughts, memories, and actions (Marcel, 1983, p.240). But many aspects of our actions are determined at a non-conscious level and by the environment of which this non-conscious acknowledgment is made (Turvey, 1977a, cited in Marcel, 1983, p.240). This non-conscious or subconscious level is determined in early life experiences where the child forms the initial mental representations of self; of others; and of relationships (Mennen, o’Keefe, 2005, p.580). And these mental representations are basically the perceptual filters through which social stimuli are interpreted and they guide children’s expectations and behaviors in relationships throughout life (Bowlby, 1969, 1982, 1991, cited in, Mennen, o’Keefe, 2005, p.580). Also, children evolve stable strategies to engage with their environment and they are not flexible in changing and adapting to a new context even if they are confronted with changes in their environment (Tucker, MacKenzie, 2012, p.2210). But the most important proven theory that really shows us how children evolve is the ‘social learning theory’ and ‘observational theory’.

According to Albert Bandura (1971, pp.5, 6), “most of the human behaviors are learned inadvertently or deliberately through the influence of example, and environments are full of lethal consequences that befall those who perform dangerous errors”.

He explains that according to the consequences they experience after specific behaviors children develop thoughts and hypotheses on the types of behaviors that are more likely to be accepted therefore to succeed (Bandura. 1971, p.3). In his experiment through the 1960s, the famous Bobo doll experiment, he proved that children who observed certain behaviors imitated the behaviors and made them their own. Moreover, girls and boys had already different reactions according to their gender which showed that children already react according to what their environments set as gender behaviors even though they themselves do not have yet the full perception of gender (Bandura. 1971, p.3). The Bobo doll experiment concerned social behaviors and experimented on children’s reaction to aggression but despite the choice of aggression as a behavior, it showed their overall reaction to adults’ behaviors.

33 boys and 33 girls took part in the experiment (McLeod, 2014, Cherry, 2018, Bandura, 1965, p.590).

Sutherland, (Pratt, et al, 2010, p.768) also confirms Bandura by making these findings even clearer in a study about crime, as he emphasizes that “crime is learned through social interaction” and that in all societies “one’s own attitudes are meanings that one attaches to given behaviors” (Akers, 2001, cited in, Pratt, et al, 2010, p.768). And as Mill (cited in, McDougal, 2015, p.8) argues, actions are directed in a way that secures the maximum of pleasure because any other action is considered unreasonable and immoral and different from how a person is supposed to act.

Another aspect of children’s perception is Erikson’s theory (1950-1985, cited in, Fleming, 2004, p.10), which extended Freud’s work describing the stages of development, and supports that in the 4th stage of development, before the teenage years, children “adjust to the inorganic laws” in order to achieve competence. It is only in the fifth stage as teenagers when they try to separate their identities from their parents’ something that many people do not fully manage to accomplish even beyond their teen years (Fleming, 2004, p.11). The research shows that a one-year-old child will not be embarking for example in situations in which older children would be and as children mature cognitively and socially, they will reach a point where embarrassment and shame will replace older feelings (Lewis, 1992, cited in, Gerholm, 2011, pp.3100-3101). This shows that from the early years, children react according to the norms of the environment they live in. So it seems that the environment is the biggest element that plays a vital role in how children will perceive the world and how they will think about the world in the years of adulthood.

In addition, there is plenty of research that shows that the environment plays an essential role in the IQ of a child, and this strengthens even more the notion that children will acquire theirs system of beliefs that will use and have as adults, in these early years. Makharia, et al, (2017, pp.190-191), in their research in India, discovered that environmental factors such as place of residence, physical activity, family income, parental education, and occupation of the father had an impact on the IQ of the children. Even though the heritability of the IQ is considered to have a high level of impact (Galton, 2012, cited in, Makharia, et al, p.189) this is contradicted as it seems like the IQ of children living with a very low function of socioeconomic status, is also low. This means that the environment doesn’t leave them to expand to their full potential so due to this, they cannot express a high IQ (Makharia, et al, p.189-190). Rowe and Plomin (1981, cited in, McCall, 1983, p.408), after reviewing all the literature, also confirm that at least half the variance of general mental performance is the environment. Psychologists in general consider the importance of “parental encouragement for achievement, responsiveness of parents to the child's overtures, stimulating toys or books, educational opportunities, and parents who value and model intellectual activities and accomplishments” as the characteristics that influence children and that distinguish the general environment of one family from another (McCall, 1983, p.408).

I will add to this subject attesting to a personal experience. I was once speaking to a child, a boy of about 10 years old, about the future. His father is a man of low income working as a delivery guy, delivering food. He has lost his business and owes money to almost everywhere and doesn’t seem to be able to escape this situation for his own personal internal reasons. His mother is an employee in a shop, a good job that provides more than the father’s job but not much. They both work for amazingly many hours from morning till evening. The grandparents play an essential role in the raising of the child. They live in the apartment above and they provide the food as the kid eats with them, they pick him up from school, and they buy him stuff like candies and toys. The child is living a life with all the material needs covered by the grandparents or at least that is what he sees. The grandparents are pensioners so they appear to the child as if they do not work and they also prepare the food for the child’s parents. So I was asking him what he wanted to be when he grew up because I wanted to buy him a present for his birthday, one that he would be excited about. I thought that when we were kids, we all wanted to be astronauts or policemen, ballerinas, or even batman, so what does he want! The answer was that he didn't want to be something and that he didn’t need to be something. This was a weird answer to hear so I thought for a while and knowing that he is an intelligent child I asked him how will he live when he grew up and be an adult. He told me that he will live as today with his grandparents. So I asked him what kind of job he would do. He answered that he didn’t need a job he could eat here. So I told him that when we are adults we all need to do a job in order to eat because our families are responsible for us only until we grow up. So what does he think he could do when he reaches that point? And he answered, and I quote, that: “Well, if I need to do something I will just be a delivery guy”.

This is a classic example of imitation. The early child is attracted to the behaviors of an adult as he/she is curious to learn and absorb the unfamiliar (McDougal, 2015, p.90). The child imitates the movements of the adult as he/she is drawn by the peculiarity of the gestures and the facial expressions (McDougal, 2015, p.90). In the same way, the older child is attracted to the behaviors of the adult, he/she observes them, absorbs them, and imitates the example because he/she understands from the result that this is an accepted and normal behavior (McDougal, 2015, p.90). The adults excite the child’s admiration and they become a model, therefore, the child either reproduces these accepted behaviors or acts in the opposite way as a form of rebellion, in his/her adulthood years (McDougal, 2015, p.90).

Either way, if a child can be so much affected by its environment in matters of the everyday life, how much he/she is affected as far as the overall culture is concerned? Can a child who grows up in a family who votes for Obama vote as an adult for someone like Trump? And if he/she does vote for someone like Trump as a rebellion against the family will this be a choice of true independence or is it still a choice that is dictated by the beliefs that were embedded in him/her as a child? The research shows that our choices; our IQ; and our overall thinking, are the results of the environment in which we grew up in a huge percentage. And here comes a much more significant issue. If this is the case then do we have the right to deprive children of all the information there is about the world and the different cultures or belief systems? Do we understand and respect the children as true persons and therefore give them all the information that they must have in order to achieve as much independence as possible in their future choices as adults? Or are we closed in the borders of our cultural totalities, as we said in Chapter 2, acting in contradiction to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? In Chapter 5 we will explore how are children raised in relation to culture in different parts of the world and how they deviate or not from what their environment ‘teaches them’ either by education or by experience.

But first, it is important to understand if we actually consider children as persons; as people; and as different entities that are entitled to all rights.

Chapter 4

Do we consider the child a ‘Person’?

The Universal Declaration states Rights that consider ‘persons’. Article 18 among others says that ‘everyone has the right…’ and other Articles say ‘all have the right…’. Who are exactly this ‘everyone’ and these ‘all’?

The ‘person’ has been addressed through etymological; religious; analytical; phenomenological; and ontological perspectives (Jackson, Hogg, 2010). While as a word purely etymologically it is just the ‘human’, any human, the idea of the person is also connected to consciousness (Jackson, Hogg, 2010). For religions, the ‘person’ is a coexistence of both spiritual and material aspects and for several philosophies, the ‘person’ is the name for the conscious self; or the present and past existence by the consciousness that owns and commits to past actions; or that one physical human being can be more than one person if he/she has more than one consciousness; or that “a person is not in the totality of the individual and physical being but it exists in the presence of the face of the other and that presence permits one person to be in some kind of relation with another person” (Jackson, Hogg, 2010). Moreover the ‘person’ is an entity, that makes actions and has responsibility, and due to this responsibility, people impose laws on themselves (Jackson, Hogg, 2010).

Considering the latter, I would say that a person is a full human being with rights and responsibilities and for that, there is a need for norms in order for these rights and responsibilities to be determined. The reality nevertheless, is probably different.

The child, who is a human and is the protagonist in this essay, is under debate as to whether it is considered as a person and a real entity with rights and responsibilities. This debate begins from the hour of conception and is very vivid in the case of the dialogue concerning the abortion matter. I will not extend to this matter because it is an issue that is irrelevant but I will just mention it to conclude somewhere at the end. In the matter of pro-choice or pro-life, the pro-choice support that an entity that is just there and has human DNA is not in any way equivalent to an entity that we should consider a living person with these rights and responsibilities and the

pro-life support, that human life begins at conception and that from then humans are entities, persons, with rights and responsibilities (Henriques, 2015).

Yet neither of them really consider their children as persons with the right of choice when they finally give birth to them, as the research shows in the next chapters, nor do they give their children all the elements needed in order to achieve for their children to form a pure personality with neutral raw materials.

Plato (Note 2), who is the preamble of our contemporary views on the structuring of the personality, says that the character is influenced by heredity and the natural constitution of the person, but even more so from the rearing; the socializing, and the establishment and structure of the State. For Plato, human behavior is the reflex of the past. As he says to Socrates, trying to show him that the way we experience our old age is dependent on our past youth, “if people are decent and with a good will and goodness, then they will experience old age with joy or at least good mood. But if they are not, then those people not only have a bad old age but also a bad young age”, Plato wants to show that as we grow up we learn how to Be, and according to what we learn we Are.

In order for children to be able to make choices and be the beneficiaries of this right they must learn who to be and also how to make decisions. Decision-making is crucial because it dictates the path that children’s lives will take as adults (Taylor, 2009). Popular culture wants to take these decisions from them (Taylor, 2009). But this enhances their incapability and puts them in a place where they really cannot be considered as persons with opinions. But, decision-making must be supported by knowledge. In the next two Chapters, we will demonstrate how this lack of the capability of decision-making can even lead to political exploitation (special reference in the case of Russia, chapter 5,(3c)). And even though Article 12 o ‘The Convention on the Rights of the Child’ says that:

“ States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child” (United Nations 8, 19), this

same Article contradicts that a child is necessarily this ‘person’, as being a ‘person’ is in accordance with the age and maturity of the child, but without giving a firm definition as to what exactly is the right maturity level. Therefore the parent or the general environment does not really have the obligation to consider the child as a person who is entitled to a complete education of culture in order to form opinions and make decisions.

Note 2. Politeia by Plato (436 a8-e), (329 d 3-6), (370 C 3-5), translated by the author Danai Fasouli

Chapter 5

How are children raised in different parts of the world and in different cultural environments, regarding their liberty to choose their freedom of thought and their cultural identity? Examples that show the role of parenting in the future of their personalities.

As historian Gail Schmunk Murray says, even children’s literature, a means that creates culture, has been used by “clergy, teachers, parents, and writers to shape morals, control information, model proper behavior, delineate gender roles, and reinforce class, race, and ethnic separation” (Abate, 2010, p.6). Many lessons in both fiction and nonfiction texts urge children, for example, to use good manners, obey their parents, and follow the rules (Abate, 2010, p.6). In fairy tales, we often see examples of punishment if the lead character does not follow the accepted societal behavior. For example in the Grimm Brothers’ version of Little Red Riding Hood the young girl does not obey the mother’s instructions and she ends up in the belly of the wolf (Grimm & Grimm, cited in Abate, 2010, p.6). When she is rescued she has learned her lesson and the accepted behavior. This is an example that explains even more what I wrote in chapter 3, that children will mimic or rebel to end up mimicking after all as adults the approved societal behaviors, behaviors that were learned in specific cultural totalities through experience, or education, formal or informal.

Research shows that children simply adopt the behaviors of adults and continue in the same way when adults themselves. It is not by chance that, for example, children in Asia, particularly in China and Japan are less expressive of positive emotions like smiling and laughing, than are Western children (Camras et al, 1998; Gartstein, Slobodskaya, Zylicz, Gosztyla, Nakagawa, 2010, cited in, Chen, Eisenberg, 2012, p.1) as they grow up in an environment with a culture that does not express joy with laughter. In another example, research shows that children in Australia; China; Mexico; Sweden; Thailand; and the United States are very different in their display of pro-social; cooperative; or aggressive behaviors (Bergeron, Schneider, 2005; Farver et al, 1995; Kagan, Knight, 1981; Orlick, Zhou, Partington, 1990; Eisenberg, Fabes, Spinrad, 2006, cited in, Chen, Eisenberg, 2012, p.1).

According to the socio-ecological theory, “the beliefs, values, and practices endorsed within a cultural group are an integral part of the socio-ecological environment for children’s social and cognitive functions” (Chen, Eisenberg, 2012, p.2)... "and it is well-known among researchers that “the development of individual beliefs, relationships, and behaviors is a highly complicated phenomenon that cannot be understood accurately and completely without taking cultural factors into account” (Chen, Eisenberg, 2012, p.3).

1. Example related to religious beliefs in a survey conducted in the United States in 2017 by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University.

A total of one thousand five hundred and eight (1508) women who are mothers and are self-identifying as Catholics and live in the United States took part. Seventy-three percent (73%) of them answered in a related question that their children remain in the church (Gilger, 2018, Gray, Gautier, 2018). A previous research, in 2014, by CARA showed that most Catholic children today are being raised by married Catholic parents and the majority of the parents (53%) are in a parish at least once a month (Gray, 2015, pp.1-4). In addition, parents with teenage children are more likely to attend Mass weekly than those with an infant and sixty-six percent (66%) of parents say that it is VERY important to them that their children celebrate their first communion (Gray, 2015, pp. 1-4). This is confirmed by another research of CARA concerning Catholic teenagers who report their related experiences (Gray, 2015, p.3). Catholic children today grow up in an environment with specific beliefs as Catholic parents still hold core ‘Creed’ beliefs of the Catholic Church like, “there is a heaven (85%) Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven (83%), there is only one God, a Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (82%), Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary (81%), angels, spiritual messengers of God, exist (81%), God, the father, is the creator of heaven, the earth, and all we know of the universe (79%), God created human beings in his own image (79%), prayers are heard and answered (79%)” and many more in high percentages (Gray, 2015, p.4). Smith (2005, cited in, Theisen, 2012) in a research conducted by the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR - )at a Carolina research project directed by him as Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame and Lisa Pearce, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina, found that the single most important influence on the religious and spiritual lives of adolescents is their parents. The researchers discovered numerous parent-teen ‘mirrors’ showing a clear and accurate reflection between what the parents did and believed and what their teens did and believed (Theisen, 2012).

I was reading an article one day in ‘The New York Times’ that paints the picture of many different religion-based cultures today. This was the case of a former Orthodox Jewish mother. Divorced from her ultra-Orthodox Jewish husband, by a Jewish court (the Beth Din) she had full custody of their three children (Otterman, 2018 p.30). In the Beth Din agreement, she signed to follow the Jewish customs in full around the children, but when she discovered she was a homosexual and therefore left the faith, she had to face a custody battle as an unfit mother (Otterman, 2018 p.30). To make it clear, she had to face custody court, not because she was abusing her children or because she wasn’t taking good care of them, but because she was no longer religious and she also expressed that she was a homosexual (Otterman, 2018, p.30). As Otterman (2018, p.30) writes, the question in the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, United States was, “Did she allow her children to watch a Christmas video? Did she include plastic Easter eggs as part of their celebration of Purim?”. Finally, the New York State appellate court ruled that the Justice prus was wrong to base a decision on religious ideas and factors and that he had violated her constitutional rights by requiring her to pretend to be something she is not (Otterman, 2018, p.30). For her ex-husband, the problem was that she had started dressing differently shocking the religious neighbors among others, and that this was traumatizing the children (Otterman, 2018 p.30). As Yosef Rapaport (cited in, Otterman, 2018, p.30), an ultra-Orthodox rabbi who has been a litigator in Jewish courts in Brooklyn said, “It is something that matters, be it Kosher food or the way the mother dresses. When she has to take the child to the bus stop for school in front of the house and the whole block looks, it is something that might embarrass the kid” (I remind, in chapter 3 the fact that children feel embarrassment as they get older and not at early stages as they are influenced by the environment). The point of course here is not to discuss the divorce or the custody case but to understand that first of all we still live in societies where religious courts have the right to exist, where civil and religious law have a thin border between them, even in what we consider low-context cultures (remember chapter 2, high and low-context cultures); and secondly that in this closed environment, the children have no right to learn or experience a different culture even if that comes from a changed mother. And maybe the courts decided on the constitutional rights of the mother but where are the constitutional rights of the children? Where in our laws we made sure that the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are embedded in our law systems for all, so for children too.

2. Example related to political beliefs

Virginia Sapiro (2004, p.2) asks us: “What leads people to join political groups that engage even in killing other civilians for a political cause?” I would answer the roots of political socialization. Political socialization explains the development of political culture and figures that, as Wordworth (cited in, Sapiro 2004, p.13) says, “the child is the father of the man”. In 1959, Hyman (cited in, Sapiro, 2004, p.3) noted how important is to observe and take into serious account certain regularities in the patterns of political behavior among citizens and their continuity over time. Political learning, as he calls it, is the result of political practices that are not only activities that are profoundly understood as such but also activities that define how one goes about deciding what he/she thinks of an issue or what style one uses in political socialization (Sapiro, 2004, p.2). There is research that confirms the importance of adolescence in the development of citizen orientation and engagement and also confirms that adolescence especially can be an important time for initiating people into various habits of political engagement (Sapiro, 2004, p.13). For example, if we observe two families in different contexts in which parents vote consistently for the same left-wing party the children in one family will acquire the idea that choices on the left are good, or in the other family they will acquire the idea that this particular party is good, and this will not be experienced as a simple preference but as an aspect of identity (Sapiro, 2004, p.8). In neither case, the children will learn and identify themselves as right-wing party followers or voters. Moreover, even in the early years children do perceive and react to people through social group categorization and they even develop social identities that are politically relevant (Sapiro, 2004, p.14). For example, research on African American and Latino children in the United States shows that according to their parent’s strategies in coping with racism, children do use nationality to make inferences about people from an early age and this tendency increases as they become older and older (Martin et al, 2003, cited in, Sapiro, 2004, p.15).

I will take the chance here to remember my childhood. I have the strong image in my mind of my sister who is 6 years younger than me and was then 5 years old. We were watching the news with my parents -well we were actually playing, they were watching the news- and suddenly, when the opposing party leader of the one that my parents were voting, showed in the screen and started speaking, she got up like a hurricane, my sister that is, and started making ugly facial expressions and making fun of him. She would give him characterizations that explained, actually, his unjust position in matters. She appeared to know very well what she was talking about but of course in a theoretical state as she had no idea what these meant in real life. As an adult, later on, she continued to agree with the general political notions of my parents, and for a long time, she was kind of following their example and voting for what they were voting for. Me, I was kind of rebellious and became highly political with strong opinion, often very different from theirs. But in both cases, it was their parenting that resulted in what we now think and vote. They had a different behavior when I was 5 years old. They were attending gatherings, happenings, and meetings, from various political parties and expressions and they were strongly participating whereas when my sister was 5 years old they had started to have a specific opinion for one particular party and they preferred the TV from the gatherings. This difference shaped us as political entities and created the difference between me and my sister. Another example is that researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, collected data from 700 children and families on parenting styles and children’s temperament, and found that the ways parents use to discipline children play an important role in the development of their political ideology later in life (Glasser, 2012). Specifically, children whose parents emphasized obedience and children with higher levels of fearfulness at the age of five were more likely to hold conservative attitudes at the age of 18, while children in egalitarian households and children who were highly active and with strong attention spans were more likely to hold liberal attitudes as adults, both regardless of ethnicity, gender or socioeconomic status (Glasser, 2012)

3. Examples related to high-context cultures

A. In traditional American Indian (indigenus) families children are raised by extended families (Cross, 1986, cited in, Mooradian, et al, 2007, p.87). These extended families include parents, grandparents, and others related by blood (Cross, Earle, Simmons, 1999; Fischler, 1985, cited in, Mooradian et al, 2007, p.87), or non-kin members like other tribe or clan members (Red Horse, 1980, cited in, Mooradian, et al, 2007, p.87). In their culture, they believe in, and they practice the concept of Seven Generations. This means that there is a significance of intergenerational relationships and responsibilities, and a continuity across generations (Mooradian, et al, 2007, p.87). They strongly follow the realm that the ancestors of seven generations ago were planning for the people of today, and that those plans are the reason there is still language and culture available to indigenous people (Lum, 2007, cited in, Mooradian, et al, 2007) and also that the current generation carries the responsibility to plan for the seventh generation to come.

So where is the freedom of choice of a child if its fate and its culture are determined by seven generations back?

B. In research about child-rearing and child development in India, researchers understood that the family is the main aspect in the transmission of class and culture and that class differences affect the child-rearing and the child from when he/she is born extending to all the years of this relationship (Chaudhary, 1992; Seymour, 1995, cited in, Budhwar, et al, 2002, p.229). In this research, one hundred (100) middle-class families took part, from Jodhpur, India, an industrial city in Western Rajasthan (Budhwar, et al, 2002, p.232). The families had both parents of around 40 years old; at least one daughter and one son of ages around 17 years old; and the fathers were better educated being undergraduates (74%) while the mothers were less educated with only thirty-eight percent (38%) being an undergraduate (Budhwar, et al, 2002, p.233). The research refers to the attitudes of the mothers toward their children and how this influences life goal pattern formation and social, economic, and political opinions as the child grows up (Budhwar, et al, 2002, pp.233, 234).

I will interrupt here by saying that other researchers have reported that Indian mothers promote obedience and passivity (Minturn & Hitchcock, 1966, cited in, Budhwar, et al, 2002, p.229); they reward instrumental dependence (Ames & Randeri, 1965, cited in, Budhwar, et al, 2002 p.229); they are not training children for self-reliance (Carstairs, 1967; Minturn & Hitchcock, 1966, cited in, Budhwar, et al, 2002, p.229); and that Indian families have an authoritarian and hierarchical family structure that gives priority to dependence; conformity; and maintenance of social relationship with others (Nandy & Kaker, 1980; Seymour, 1988; Singh & Kaur, 1981, cited in, Budhwar, et al, 2002, p.229). In addition, the skills and abilities required when the child becomes an adult, within a culture (Ogbu, 1981, cited in, Budhwar, et al, 2002, p.230) depend upon the type of life goals parents value for themselves and what they aspire for their children when adults (Budhwar, et al, 2002, p.230).

To return to the specific research with the 100 families, it was measured that, concerning life goals, fathers care greatly about esteem (0.8055), social service (0.7653), leadership (0.7529), and self-expression (0.7529) while mothers care greatly about esteem (0.8298), leadership (0.7883), interesting experience (0.7544) and security (0.7265). Fame and power for fathers (0.4587 and 0.5135) and power and self-expression for mothers (0.4511 and 0.5876) were low in their preferences (Budhwar, et al, 2002, p.237). Now the research revealed that the same patterns are mimicked by the children with the sons valuing high esteem (0.7144), self-expression (0.7633), and leadership (0.7378) like their fathers and with the daughters valuing high leadership (0.7302), interesting experience (0.7099) and independence (0.7034) combining both the parents’ aspirations (Budhwar, et al, 2002, p.238). Fame and power are again lower when they think of their life goals with numbers close to their parents’ (Budhwar, et al, 2002, p. 238).

C. For centuries children in Russia were considered as non-persons and the property of their parents especially their father (Kravchuk, 2014, p.36). Today, or better yet, even today, the family authority over the child’s rights and interests is still demanded by a society’s political, cultural, or religious traditions, as the proper role of parents is to teach the children to accept national and cultural values and traditions (Kravchuk, 2014, p.36). In the whole of the country still prevail traditional paternalistic attitudes towards a child as a person with limited capacities, attitudes that go back to ‘Domostroi’ (Domestic Order), a 16th-century Russian set of household rules, instructions, and advice pertaining to various religious, social, domestic, and family matters of the Russian society and also supported by the Russian Orthodox Church (Kravchuk, 2014, p.24). The problem is that this influences even the legislation and it plays a great role in the shaping of citizens as a child who learns that he/she is unable to influence the decisions of the family, later he/she will believe that he/she is unable to influence the decision-making process of the country (Kravchuk, 2014, pp.24, 25).

In Russia specifically, it is said that this tactic is supported by official policies that aim to alienate citizens from democratic procedures (Kravchuk, 2014, p.25).

With the end of the Communist era, legislators in Russia made significant progress concerning the rights of the child directly or indirectly into compliance with the United Nations (Kravchuk, 2014, p.30). The Constitution of the Russian Federation which was adopted in 1993 contains several Articles related to the rights of children (Kravchuk, 2014, p.30). Today it is ‘The Family Code of the Russian Federation’ (1995) (Kravchuk, 2014, p.26, 27), which regulates the status of the children in Russia in Article 57. But as the law proclaims:

“the right of the child to contribute his opinion in any family decision concerning his/ her interests, and the right to be heard in any court or administrative proceeding” and the obligation of the authorities to “take into account the opinion of the child over 10 years old”, it immediately cancels itself by stating that “the child’s opinion should be ignored when such an opinion contradicts the child’s best interests” (Kravchuk, 2014, p.27). Of course the concept of ‘the best interests of the child’ is not identified anywhere in Russian law (Kravchuk, 2014, p.30) nor in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (Note 4) (2005, cited in, Kravchuk, 2014, p.30) has profoundly expressed that “it regrets that the determination of what constitutes the ‘best interests’ seems to be the decision of adults alone involving little consultation with children, even when they are able to state their opinions and interests”.

Moreover, Russia’s Federal Law on the Basic Guarantees (Note 5) in its Article 4 sets the principles of child participation that are to be in accordance with the law and traditions of the peoples of the Russian Federation (Kravchuk, 2014, p.30)

Note 4: UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations, Albania, ¶ 26, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/15/ Add.249

Note 5: Federal Law of 24 July 1998 No. 124-FZ ‘On the Basic Guarantees of the Rights of the Child in the Russian Federation’ Собрание законодательства Российской Федерации. 1998. № 31. Ст. 16 [Sobranie zakonodatel’stva Rosiiskoi Federatsii. 1998. No. 31. St. 16 [1998(31) Collection of Legislation of the Russian Federation, Art. 16]].]

4. Example related to low-context cultures

It may seem that parenting and the raising of children in high-context cultures as described in Chapter 2 is very restricted in the norms of the culture of each society and retrospective each family and that children in this context are, either informally or formally, not free to learn and think of ‘the different’. But in the low context cultures, there is also a hidden restriction in the children’s rights to culture. For example in countries like Sweden, there are several interventions regarding parenting training (Cottam and Espie, 2014; Janta, 2013; Smeyers, 2008, cited in, Rooth, et al, 2018, p.369). The Swedish ‘National Strategy for Developed Parental Support–A Benefit for All’ (SOU 2008:131, 2009, cited in, Rooth, et al, 2018, p.369) put into effect that “all parents in Sweden with children 0–17 years of age should get access to free parenting training on a municipal level”. One could think that this could prevent the ‘infection’ of the child from the parents or the general environment's cultural views. But it seems that still children-and parents this time-are positioned as simple objects in a parenting context and are defined in relation to power or worse to powerlessness (Hennum, 2012, cited in Rooth, et al, 2018, p.371).

Moreover, “parenting is a constellation of attitudes toward the child that are communicated to the child and create an emotional climate in which the parents’ behaviors are expressed” (Darling, Steinberg, 1993, cited in Olivari, et al, 2015, p.244). So even if parents are more aware of the neutrality that is needed to raise a child they still put their own character and behaviors into the equation. And as I said in Chapter 2, by belonging to a low context culture their character values more individualism and prioritize the needs of the person (Triandis, Brislin, Hui, 1988; cited in Pryor, Butler, Boehringer, 2005, cited in Nishimura, et al, 2008, p.785), and they are less expressive and need codes deriving from logic to communicate.

For example all Swedes, for quite a few generations, avoid conflict or confrontation and refrain from raising their voice or showing anger, preferring always modesty (Cultural Atlas). This is a continued behavior and it means that a child must behave according to that norm even if he/she needs for his/her own reason to be more aggressive. The result lies in adulthood when suddenly under the influence of alcohol people dare raise their voices, express conflicting opinions, and start using extrovert body language (Kamann, 2016), creating a culture of heavy drinkers supporting a whole industry. Also, the average Swedish kid spends more than four hours a day outside, which is a behavior that comes from the love of Swedish parents for nature (Lembke, 2017). It is basically a repetitive wheel. Children grow up in nature so they become adults that will also follow the same parenting in regards to nature. Again children mimic the culture they are found in even if this culture doesn’t seem like one specific culture. In low-context cultures, it is easy to characterize the environments as neutral but they still have elements that describe some kind of culture. An Atheist may not have the characteristics of the Catholic or Muslim follower which is strict with his/her notions about religion but isn’t the Atheist also strict with his/her notions about religion? And doesn’t he/she raise the children expressing these strict notions?

Chapter 6

Quantitative and Qualitative Research, Evidence Found Supporting the Argument

Research with two scales was conducted, a quantitative scale and a qualitative scale.

The quantitative research was conducted online and on physical paper. For this research parents, both men and women, were asked to complete a questionnaire with ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers to questions. Specifically, two thousand parents (2000) were asked questions about the ways they are raising their children with regards to culture. From the questionnaires, five hundred and sixty-eight (568) are considered valid and these are the ones that are finally considered in this research. Valid are considered the questionnaires where all the questions were answered (many parents decided to abort or did not answer all the questions). The parents

that were asked to complete the questionnaire had their origins in Cyprus, Australia, United Kingdom, Italy, The Netherlands, Zimbabwe, India, United States of America, Poland, Greece, Singapore, Eritrea, Canada, Finland, Romania, Albania, Turkey, Syria, Bulgaria, Peru, Germany, Georgia (East Europe), Romania, Bangladesh, Colombo, Russia and they are currently residing in the United Arabs Emirates, Greece, United States of America, United Kingdom, Cyprus, Australia, Canada, China, Cote d’ Ivoire, Belgium, Finland, Hong Kong, Germany, South Africa, Luxembourg, and Qatar.

The qualitative research was conducted through the same questionnaire and was answered by the parents who completed it through the internet. For the qualitative research, three hundred and fifty-eight (358) questionnaires are considered valid. Valid are considered the questionnaires where all the qualitative questions were answered. The origins and the residence of the participants are the same. The questions on the qualitative research aim to give us a more clear view and have an explanatory role to the questions of the quantitative research.

In this research the questionnaires were anonymous, they were answered only by parents and participants were asked to give their consent despite the anonymity. The participants were informed that this research aims to help us understand if we consider children as true individuals; if they have the right to choose what and how to think and believe and to what extent and if we consider that they have the same rights as adults. They were informed that the particular area of the research concerns article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights where we read: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion" and that the research wants to determine if this article is valid; if children are valued as free persons and true entities; and if it applies to children as they are born and grow up. The participants were informed that they could abort the questionnaire at any time; that all information collected about the participants, if any, would be kept strictly confidential (subject to legal limitations), and that confidentiality, privacy, and anonymity would be ensured in the collection, storage, and publication of research material and that the data generated in the course of the research must and will be kept securely in paper or electronic form for a period of five years after the completion of a research project. They were also informed that the results of the research will be used in the particular project with this particular title -the title of this essay.

The research was conducted between, April 1st, 2018, to June 15th, 2018.

The questions are separated into four parts and each part shows a different factor that is essential for understanding better and making a clearer conclusion.

Part 1

In this part of the research, the questions had the sole purpose of defining the parents, meaning that it was essential to understand the behaviors that concern the parents, in relation to their culture, in order to identify what behaviors the children may mimic (remember chapter 3, children mimic the behaviors).

The parents were asked if they belong in to a specific culture or/and religion, meaning that if they absolutely believe in one and/or they are officially a follower of this specific culture and/or religion. The answers showed that sixty-three percent (63%) are followers of a specific culture and therefore practice it in their environment. In addition, they were asked if they believe or are followers of any culture and/or religion in a casual way without it being absolute or official, meaning that maybe, for example, they are baptized and belong in the official records of a church but they do not participate or care to participate, or that they do not belong somewhere but they casually participate for example in traditional celebrations, or for example that they practice yoga as gymnastics but they don't care about the culture of it, or for example that they vote for a communist party but they do not believe in the culture of communism. The answers showed that almost seventy percent (70%) of the parents were part of a culture in a casual way. This number includes parents that did not answer positively in the previous question but take part in various cultural happenings in a casual way and parents that did answer positive in the previous question but have a second or third culture in their lives that they take part in a more casual way, like for example a strict Greek Orthodox that also practices Feng Shui.

It was considered important to examine if the general environment was common in their beliefs and practices so parents were asked if partners, wives, husbands, or other members of their family belonged to the same culture and/or religion with seventy-six percent (76%) of them answering positively. This question seeks to make us understand if children have other influences from their general environment apart from the cultures of their parents (remember Chapter 5,3A the American Indian Peoples example).

It is important to consider here that parents in their total who answered completely negatively in the first two questions, meaning that they are not followers of any culture either strict or casual, still defined themselves as agnostic or atheists in a relevant qualitative question defining again a kind of culture and of behavior. Moreover, those parents did not have a commonality in their general environment meaning that their environment did believe or follow a specific culture in a strict or casual way.

Part 2

-In this next part of the research the parents were asked a series of questions that considered their behaviors towards their children, in relation to culture.

Parents who do follow a culture either in a strict or a casual way were asked if they encourage their children to participate in specific happenings and customs in any of the cultures they may be part of. Parents who do not follow a culture either in a strict or a casual way but were neutral were asked if they encourage their children to not participate in any happenings or customs that portray any kind of culture. A total of sixty-three percent (63%) answered positively and thirty-seven percent (37%) negatively. From the 63% the majority of the answers were from the parents that do follow a culture and the majority of the 37% that answered negative were the parents that do not follow a culture.

To make it more specific parents were asked if they encourage their children to follow specific practices and/or customs according to their own culture, either casual, or strict, or neutral. The question was made more specific by explaining that by ‘specific practices’ are meant practices like Baptism, any kind of rituals like a religious wedding instead of a civil one, Shamanic rituals, genitalia mutilation, attendance in specific political parties’ gatherings etc… The answers were forty-six percent (46%) positive and fifty-four percent (54%) negative. From the negative answers, the majority were from parents from low-context cultures or in the middle of high and low-context cultures (read Chapter 2, high and low-context cultures).

But when parents were asked if they consider it mandatory -instead of just encouraging them- for their children to follow specific practices and/or customs according to their own culture again by identifying the same kind of specific practices the answers were twenty-nine percent (29%) positive and seventy-one percent (71%) negative. The majority of the negative answers of about eighty percent (80%) came from parents from low-context cultures or in the middle of high and low-context cultures (read Chapter 2). In a defining question in the qualitative research parents from high-context cultures mostly, think about religion (not so much about politics for example) when answering these questions and consider Baptism and religious weddings as mandatory either for religious reasons or for social reasons.

Part 3

-In this part, the research considers the education of the children regarding culture and their parents’ consideration on the matter.

Parents were asked if they believe that children should be educated, in an equal amount of time, learning the cultures that exist all around the world, meaning that ‘equal amount of time' is that for example children will be given in school the same hours to learn each and every culture that exists, political; religious; or otherwise, and only by information, with no critical view just by portraying the exact beliefs and practices of each culture whether religious or political or other.

Seventy-five percent (75%) of the parents answered positive, but when parents were asked if they draw from other cultures that do not consider as their own as they raise their children only forty-two percent (42%) answered that they do draw from other cultures. Of this 42%, the majority of almost seventy- six percent (76%) were parents from low-context cultures or in the middle of high and low-context cultures (read Chapter 2).

Some of the answers that were given by the parents on this matter in the qualitative research were that they teach their children meditation even though they are casual Christians; or that they are not Muslims but live in a Muslim country in which Muslim religion is a mandatory part of schooling and socialization; or that they are not Christians but they teach them Christianity because it is more acceptable from the society; or that the spouse comes from a different culture so the children attend community happenings of this culture.

Also, the parents were asked if there are any cultures that they do not accept and if so how they express about them to their children or if not how do they speak to their children about following a specific or a number of cultures. Fifty-five percent (55%) of the parents answered that there are cultures that they do not accept and fifty-four percent (54%) answered that they express in a neutral way when they speak to their children about cultures that they do not accept or about having a different culture from their own beliefs. In addition, sixteen percent (16%) answered that they express in a negative manner with the majority of them being from high context cultures or being strict followers of a specific culture and mostly religion.

Part 4

-In this part, the research focuses on the rights of the children to choose. It shows how the parents consider these rights and if they consider children as ‘persons’ as entities with their own free will and the capability to form their own opinions.

The parents were asked if they consider that their children, until the age of twelve, are free to choose and have their own beliefs even if they are opposite or different from their own. Seventy-six percent (76%) answered that their children are free even though they do not educate their children in the majority as it is shown in part 3 of the research.

In addition, parents were asked if they consider that their children, when in the ages from thirteen to seventeen, have the RIGHT to choose their own culture and if they consider that their children, when in the ages from thirteen to seventeen, have the CAPABILITY to choose their own culture. Regarding the right of the children to choose, seventy-eight percent (78%) of the parents answered positively but this percentage fell a little bit regarding the capability of the children. Sixty-two percent (62%) of the parents answered that their children are or will be capable of making their own choices regarding culture and beliefs and thirty-eight percent (38%) that they are or will be not. This means that there is a percentage -the difference between the 78% regarding the RIGHT and the 62% regarding the CAPABILITY- that even though they feel that the children do have the right to decide they are not capable to benefit from this right.

Conclusion of the findings

What it is seen through this research is that the majority of the parents do belong or practice or casually follow some kind of culture. The children therefore grow up in a specific environment and experience these cultures through their parents’ actions. This is enhanced by the fact that most of the parents encourage participation in cultures when they are their own and let children be part of other cultures that do not consider their own mostly because they have to in some way or if these cultures are not harming their culture. For example, a Muslim will not show Christianity but will let the child engage in a political culture. Even though parents consider that children must be educated through formal education on every different culture of the world this is wishful thinking that is not supported by their own actions as they do not include other cultures that are not considered their own in the raising of their children and they even have cultures that they do not accept. For those, they express in a neutral way mostly by leaving them completely out of their vocabulary. Finally, parents do consider their children to be free to choose their own culture, they do consider that their children have this right while fewer of them, but still the majority, consider that their children are capable of making such decisions, without however, having given their children the information that they need to make such decisions. In addition, many parents decided to abort the questionnaire when they reached the questions that concern the part that has to do with the raising of their children.


It is true that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights did help the world in gaining greater freedom and security (Guterres, cited in, Lee, 2017) and it came to the scene in order to prevent history from repeating a world war and mass injustice. In our matter of concern, the separate Articles of the Declaration and the Articles of the other complementary to the Declaration Conventions, try to make the ‘person’; us people; humans, to enjoy the freedom of our thought and our convictions; the freedom to decide about our identities, either in the context of a society or regarding our own selves, and overall our culture. But the research shows that there is a group, and that is the children, that are still deprived of these rights.

This essay is like an equation where the different chapters, explaining different subjects, equal with a specific result. If we combine together the last 3 Chapters (Chapters 4, 5, 6) we conclude that the behaviors of adults towards children are making children part of specific cultures and practices akin to parents’ preferences. Children, grow up and are raised in specific environments, with specific cultures, customs, and general behaviors and they are not educated either formally or by experience about the existence of other cultures, customs, and general behaviors, that exist outside the context of their own environment, unless it is mandatory by another factor. Many times they are even deprived consciously the access to information about different cultures either religious or political. In the case they do have access this information concerns cultures that will not harm in any way the balance of the culture of their own environment.

Adults in low-context cultures or in the middle of high and low-cultures are more neutral in the raising of their children regarding culture. But even so, children still are influenced by certain behaviors that may seem as they are not part of a culture but they still define a specific culture. This mostly happens in low-context cultures. In addition, it is clear that all these elements are enhanced by the fact that the adult society, no matter where in the world, does not consider children as ‘persons’ as distinct entities that have the right to acceso information and therefore are able to decide about their own cultural identity.

Chapter 3, adding to this equation, uniting psychology with politics and especially Human Rights, makes clear that these adult behaviors towards children are shaping future photocopies of themselves, regarding culture, and create a continuance of the existing separate societies that work like closed totalities. It is clear, from all research that children observe; absorb; and imitate the example of their environment, because they understand from the result that this is an accepted and normal behavior (McDougal, 2015, p.90) as the adults excite the children’s admiration. Children will mimic; or follow; or will subconsciously be educated to form the same habits and opinions that are close to their environment. Adults always become a model and therefore children either reproduce the accepted behaviors or act in the opposite way as a form of rebellion, in their adulthood years (McDougal, 2015, p.90). Either way, the children’s decisions -when adults- are based on the influence of a confined environment.

When we consider the first two Chapters (Chapters 1, 2), having in mind all of the above, and to give a direct answer to the title of this essay, it is clear that the Universal Declaration of Hunan Rights has failed in a way to include children as far as the Article 18 is concerned, where we read that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. This ‘everyone’ does not include children even though there is an effort to do so with the separate ‘Convention on the Rights of the Child’. This is also because, the reality is that even though culture has been defined by several scholars like Tylor (1958, cited in, Jenks & Jenks, 2004, pp.32,33) who first said that culture is “that complex whole that includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society”, the truth is that there is a lack of clarity about ‘cultural rights’’ legal nature and content (CESCR Committee, 1992, cited in Brems, 2006, p.28). So even if there are a vast amount of articles protecting this right, there is always a window for misinterpretation.

Selina Hossain (1997), writing about the lack of culture with children in Bangladesh where children account for half of the population of the country, writes, “that children are the future; that the key to economic growth lies in investment in children; and that the welfare of children is a precondition of human progress”. So it is up to us to understand what our own sciences, like psychology, are telling us for years, that children are capable and will form their own decisions, and do have the right to, but they need access to information, they need equality to education, they need to learn about the whole of the planet and the cultures in it, and we need to preserve everything that is information and knowledge and think beyond our own cultural beliefs.


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