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Best Interest of the Child

The principle of the best interest of the child is currently best known through the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989 and ratified in 1990. This convention has been joined by 192 states in the world—but not the United States. The best interest principle, which is formulated in Article 3, states,

In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

Before the Convention was ratified, the principle was used in child welfare literature in the 1960s and 1970s. In particular, the 1973 book Beyond the Best Interest of the Child by Joseph Goldstein, Anna Freud, and ...

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