Retired GV professor returns to promote book on children’s rights


GVL / Sydney Lim

Emma Armijo, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University welcomed former political science professor Richard Hiskes to campus to promote his new book “Suffer The Children: A Theoretical Foundation for the Human Rights of the Child,” on Oct. 14.

Hiskes, the founder of the Human Rights minor at GVSU, used the event as a platform to educate attendees about what can be done about global human rights issues, and how children’s human rights are directly affected. His book calls attention to topics such as child enslavement and child poverty as evidence of society ignoring the human rights of children, despite nearly every nation in the world having legal documentation as to what those rights are. 

During the event, Hiskes presented his argument for the acknowledgment of the human rights of children, and how such an acknowledgment can drastically improve the lives of children internationally. He reminded attendees that though the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was ratified by nearly every nation, there are still 10 million children currently enslaved around the world and that human rights should get the attention it deserves so that those countries can be held accountable.

Political Science Professor and Director of the Human Rights Minor at GVSU, Karen Zivi, said Hiskes book talk challenged attendees’ perceptions of children’s rights, and the impact acknowledging them could have.

“(Hiskes) challenged us to think about whether rationality should be the basis upon which we grant human rights to individuals,” Zivi said. “Why shouldn’t they be able to vote or have rights? He’s also suggesting to us that if we recognize children’s human rights, that might put some pressure on policymakers to address the climate crisis.” 

Zivi said the book talk was a great opportunity for students to get to know what is going on in the world and to inspire students to take initiative to try to figure out how to address those things. 

“One of the things that Professor Hiskes reminds us is that there’s a connection between children’s rights and environmental rights because young people will be inheriting a climate crisis,” Zivi said. “So part of what he was trying to get our students to think about is, what they can do to have an impact.” 

The Human Rights minor, the program that Professor Richard Hiskes founded at GVSU, is an interdisciplinary minor with 19 credits housed in Brooks College allowing students to address both national and global human rights issues. Alumni of the program go on to complete Masters’ in human rights, law school, social work, and public health professions. Zivi said there is great work being done wherever they are. 

“The Human Rights minor is wonderful because it allows people to think philosophically about an issue,” Zivi said. “It helps us understand the contemporary politics that we’re dealing with, like the rights of protestors, women and girls human rights, free speech rights, and these are global issues as well.”

“Suffer the Children: A Theoretical Foundation for the Human Rights of The Child” by Richard Hiskes is available in multiple bookstores, Barnes and Noble, and on Amazon. 

The “Suffer the Children” event was held thanks to the generosity of the Joseph Stevens Freedom Endowment.