Raging Waters of “Children’s Rights” Erode Parental Authority

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The traditional and constraining institutions of family, church and school seem to have lost much of their authority. There was a time when parents’ rightful authority ability to discipline their child[ren] in the home was not usurped by authoritative figures and lawmakers.  Examining the current state of society and its acceptance of blatant disrespect masked in the raiment of “urban culture” and “children’s rights,” one realizes that such respect is nothing more than a distant memory.  And if a parent attempts to seek and restore this natural order, the parent is likely to be threatened by his/her six-year-old child—whose right to do so is lawfully protected—and prosecuted in the United States courts.

Many middle-class and working-poor U.S. parents feel that the schools, the courts, and the welfare system are alienating them from their kids. Those institutions, they say, use such things as sex education, counseling, and mainstreaming (of special needs children into regular classrooms) to turn kids into conforming consumers in a homogenized commercial culture. These “logical”, theoretically-based, impersonal systems forcibly separate children from their parents—citing parents on trumped-up abuse/child neglect charges or because a household falls below an arbitrary standard of material comfort—as sufficient cause to create yet another broken or even-more-broken home.

It is agreed that children do need to be protected and, if necessary, removed from an environment where their lives are threatened with serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation. Even though many define spanking a child as child abuse, some more disturbing and severe incidences have occurred that are considered far more intensive, demoralizing, and harmful to the overall development and long-term life success of a child than a spanking. The following incidences have been occurring since 2004, and on a more frequent basis:  

            Girl, 6, Handcuffed, Committed Because Of Classroom Behavior  

Source: WPBF TV February 2010 - PORT ST LUCIE, Florida - A Port St Lucie first-grade student was handcuffed and committed to a mental health facility because of her classroom behavior.

               12 Year-Old Hauled From School in Handcuffs For Doodling  

Source: New York Daily News February 2010:  A 12-year-old Queens girl was hauled out of school in handcuffs for an artless offense - doodling her name on her desk with an erasable marker, the Daily News has learned.

                         Cop suspended after Tasering 10-year-old girl 

Source: Associated Press November 2009: LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas - A police officer who used a stun gun on an unruly 10-year-old girl after he said her mother gave him permission has been suspended. 

                        "No excuse" for teen's Taser death, mother says 

Source:  CNN May 2009: Robert Mitchell died April 10 in an abondoned house in Warren, just across Eight Mile Road from Detroit proper.  His death led to a lawsuit and a protest last week by about 100 people on the thoroughfare, which separates Detroit from its northern suburbs.  Police said the teen was resisting arrest after bolting from his cousin's car during a traffic stop, and the use of the Taser was justified. But Renea Mitchell calls her son's death "murder."  The 5-foot-2, 110-pound Mitchell died after being shot once with a Taser, which delivers a 50,000-volt electric charge.  

                      Caught On Tape: Cop Attacks Teen Girl In Cell  

Source: Associated Press March 2009:  SEATTLE, Washington - Surveillance video released in an assault case against a King County sheriff's deputy shows a deputy kicking a 15-year-old girl, slamming her to the floor of a jail cell, striking her and pulling her hair.  The footage shows the attack beginning after the girl enters the cell and kicks off one of her shoes toward the deputy.  

                            Second Child Shocked by Police Taser Gun 

Source: Associated Press Saturday, January 29, 2005 – MIAMI —  Police have acknowledged using a stun gun to immobilize a 12-year-old girl just weeks after an officer jolted a first-grader with 50,000 volts.

Source: Associated Press Friday, November 12, 2004 – MIAMI —Police used a stun gun on a 6-year-old boy in his principal’s office because he was wielding a piece of glass and threatening to hurt himself, officials said Thursday.  The boy, who was not identified, ws shocked with 50,000 volts on Oct. 20 at Kelsey Pharr Elementary School.

Understand that none of the children’s aforementioned behaviors required the severity in physical punishment that each received. However, entertaining the idea that these children were “acting out”, one can’t help but to wonder that because parents’ rights to discipline their children in the home have been, basically, revoked, does this [lead] to more behavior issues in class and society?: If children are aware that not even their parents can discipline them—whom children typically tend to fear more than authority figures, they have no sense of accountability or reason to act responsibly because they know that, truly, no reprimanding can be done to them; thus, they feel a certain sense of rebellion, “hard-headedness”, and act out in society. As a result, REAL physical harm, child neglect and abuse is brought on them, which could have been avoided had the parents been allowed to fulfill their parental roles and do what’s necessary to ensure their child acts appropriately outside the four walls of their home.

As well, when these children are physically reprimanded for the first time, it is by a complete stranger and one that tends to be overly forceful. Even more so, this type of physical discipline is not followed-up with a parent-child talk or parental explanation for the discipline, a kiss on the cheek and hug of re-assurance and unconditional love. Rather, it’s met with jail time, a rap sheet, and, in some instances, death. Again, [how] is this type of “physical discipline” more judicious than a spanking at home by a loving parent? Please enlighten…

Furthermore, this shift toward basically retiring parental rights or diminishing parental authority brings to mind the UN treaty on Children’s Rights. This treaty, signed by the Clinton Administration in 1995 but never ratified into law, has been pulsating for more than 20 years. One hundred and ninety three countries have signed onto it, leaving two countries yet to sign it: the U.S. and Somalia. The treaty sets international standards for government obligations to children in protection from abuse, exploitation, and ensuring a child’s right to “free expression”.

Opposition to the Convention is in part due to what are seen as “potential conflicts” with the U.S. constitution, and because of opposition by some political and religious conservatives, The Heritage Foundation sees the conflict as an issue of national control over domestic policy.  President Barack Obama has described the failure to ratify the Convention as 'embarrassing' and has promised to review this. The Home School Legal Defense Association has argued that the CRC threatens home schooling. The U.S. has signed and ratified both of the optional protocols to the Convention.

The raging waters of “children’s rights” continue to flow with the force of white-water rapids over parental authority, working to erode away the God-given rights granted to parents. Make no mistake that children do have certain rights, freedoms, and liberties like any other human being; however, children are born to this world as directionless and unknowing, wildly beings. If these same children are to grow into responsible, self-sufficient adults able to effectively function within a realm of structure, society, and not be a burden to this same “structure”, they must be molded and consistently made accountable for their actions by their stewards, their parents. Parents are required to properly provide for, love, and discipline their children; otherwise, our society will continue on this rampage of destruction at an even quicker pace. Proof?: Victims and criminals are becoming younger and younger—just consider the court dockets, teen pregnancies, and drop out rates.

It seems as though parental authority is being infringed upon so as to be replaced by the State. But just as a parent cannot set policy in a classroom and determine what goes on within those four walls, the state cannot effectively set parent-child policy and control what goes in within one’s home or how one disciplines their child. Providing so much authority to children may theoretically seem ideal but has unfavorable consequences for all:  e.g. Adolph Hitler’s Youth movement usurping parental control diverting control to the State.    

H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc. http://www.theunitedvoices.com  a writer for the New England Informer Online; and author of Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the N-Word.