13 September 2012

Who has the right to raise children?

Puff has a post up about a conflict between parents and the school boards and ministry of education.  Parents want to be able to pull their kids out of classes when subjects the parents deem inappropriate for their children are being taught.  Since what many of the parents  are objecting to is the new anti bullying curriculum aimed at teaching acceptance for gays, the government is pushing back.  At the heart of this debate is the question, who has the right to raise the children?  To whom do the children belong?

The most common assumption was that children are members of their family which is ruled by the parents.  However, this assumption has been challenged over the years, and what seems like a power grab or indoctrination now is not the first intrusion by the government into family life.  The government, in the past, for instance, has taken Native children from their families and put them in residential schools, where all too often the children were abused.  Other intrusions were done in the case of parental abuse.  In cases where the parents abuse or fail to provide the necessities of life to their children, the government can step in, override the parents' rights, and remove the children.  So the government has taken upon itself, in the past, the right to act in what it deems are the best interests of the children, either unjustly, in the case of the natives, or justly, in the case of abuse.

Abuse is the case that gets trotted out the most, because it works.  No one argues in favour of abusing the children.  No one wants nothing to be done in that situation.  They want something done, preferably quickly, so they can get back to their beer and sports.  Many people would be willing to vote greater powers to the government in order to protect children from abuse.  So, in a sense, it is parents themselves who have often caused the government to take action and restrict the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit in order to protect the children. 

It is reminiscent of the case of gay marriage.  Many people said Gay marriage degrades the institution of marriage.  I disagreed.  Marriage could not possibly be degraded any further than heterosexuals have done all by themselves, long before gays started clamouring for the right to marry.  Had straight people acted like marriage was sacred, and important, and worthy, the gay marriage debate would have been far different.  It is the same principle here.  Too many parents have failed to raise their children well, and have instead heaped abuse upon them where they should have heaped love. We told the government they had to act, we gave them the power to do so, and they did. Trying to curb abuse was just and right, but it sets precedents of government intrusion into the family The government is not doing anything new in kind, they are acting on precedents set, usually with our approval, to help curb the abuse of children by despicable parents.  Had we been good parents, all of us, the only government intervention into family life would be their damnable intrusion into the lives of the native families, and we could condemn government action and prevent them from taking action and overriding the will of the parents.  But too many of us failed in our duty as parents, and they had to act.  It was only right that they do so, but now they can do it again, and this time, against us. All they have to do is declare that raising our children according to our values and according to our beliefs, is abusive to the children.  At the heart of this debate, that is what they are doing.  We are slowly and by degrees being outlawed.  Only in our weakness are they strong.

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