Tuesday, February 05, 2013

State should stay out of parenting

State should stay out of parenting

(My Clovis News Journal column for January 4, 2013)

Should parents have the final say in raising a child? How can you protect children without violating their rights, or the rights of their parents?

Everyone who isn't mentally or emotionally damaged wants to protect innocent children, but how far can you go to protect them?

I think parents do have the last word and the ultimate responsibility in raising their children- and I don't use the word "their" as an indication of ownership, but of relationship. Slavery is wrong and children are not the property of their parents. That also means children are not anyone else's property, either, nor do they "belong to society".

But what should you do if you know of mentally challenged parents who leave a baby home alone while running errands? Or what if parents high on crack cocaine share some with their 6-year-old? What about parents in a cult who give their children to a charismatic leader for his twisted purposes? How about parents who give their children too much access to junk food or television before they are mature enough to know what's best for them?

What is your responsibility if you know of these things happening, and you think the parents are endangering the kids?

In cases of imminent physical harm you can intervene; just as you could if you see a person getting mugged. As in the case of a mugging, you are then responsible for your actions and any consequences which come from them, even if you believe those consequences are not fair. Intervention doesn't necessarily mean using force, but could mean offering a helping hand.

What constitutes abuse in your opinion may not to others, and you may do things which horrify someone else. For example, I think it is critical to familiarize young children with guns and the safe handling thereof to prevent tragedies later; just like water safety doesn't happen by keeping children ignorant of swimming. Yet, some consider it abusive to let kids be in the same house with a gun. Do you really want anyone to have the power to step in and forcibly take over your child's life because they disagree with how you live?

If you think a situation is critical enough to take action, be responsible enough to do it yourself and personally accept the consequences. The greatest danger to families comes from having a government employee act on your behalf. They are rarely held accountable for their mistakes and the lives they ruin. Plus, they are paid out of "taxes" which are collected through coercion. You can't do the right thing in the wrong way.


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