Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Monday, May 02, 2005

The slow erosion of parental rights

Over the past couple of decades parents have been losing the rights to parent their children as they see fit. It's a subject that can be alarming, but it is not one that is new. Parental rights have been in jeapordy many times before in history. Thankfully we live in a country where we can express opinions (like here!) and stand up for what we believe in (like in the voting booths).

This subject affects me very personally. It goes back to the worst moment in my life. The moment that still haunts me to this day. It was several years ago when I was a single mother with two young boys. I got very very ill with the flu. I think I have a weak immune system because I catch everything that goes around and, as my best friend will attest to, I always get it worse then anyone else. I struggled all evening in so much pain and disorientation. You know how when you get the flu you have one really bad hour as the fever peaks and then everything starts to get better? Well that hour dragged on and on for me all night. It never peaked, it never ended. And I was scared I was going to die with my two boys there in the apartment. So I called 911 and asked them to bring me to the hospital. It didn't occur to me to call a friend because I didn't want to bother anyone. Earlier in the night I had a called a relative hinting that I needed help, but it was late and she couldn't come. I didn't want to bother anyone else.

You can probably guess where this is going. When the police and ambulance arrived they did absolutely nothing to assess my medical condition. They asked me if I was on drugs. They asked me to call someone to watch the kids. But since no one was taking my medical condition seriously I was beginning to think I shouldn't bother anyone else at two in the morning. I called another relative, asking half heartedly if he could come over, but he couldn't either. So I told the EMTs and police to just forget it. But instead they took my boys -ripping my breastfeeding baby from my arms and left. Of course I was hysterical, but I didn't want to scare my children so I just got on my hands and knees and prayed over and over "Jesus, please don't let them be scared".

Then I got on the phone with my closest friends in the church and called them. I knew that this was an emergency worth waking people over, as opposed to me being sick. I got a ride to the hospital where I finally got treated. I had to fight the nurse to get a drug test. I knew I would need proof if this dragged on. Thankfully it didn't. The emergency social workers called to the scene were appropriately scandalized by the police' behavior and promptly returned the kids to my custody. I never even got an apology from them.

Of course, since this incident I am hyper aware of the "child saving" mentality in today's society. It has crept up so subtly that perhaps you haven't noticed it. One example of this is a favorite charity I'm sure you've seen. A group will put together a bunch of stuffed animals to donate to law enforcement or firemen to give to children who have been removed from their homes. My children recieved two of these on that night. I can't help but think that this subconsiencely encourages law enforcement to take children from homes.

Some other examples of this "child saving" mentality are best put by sociologist Allan Calson in his book Family Questions:
"Recent decades have been witness to the 'child abuse' crisis, the 'teenage pregnancy' crisis, the 'child care' crisis, the 'working mother' crisis, the 'population' crisis, and 'the youth suicide' crisis, all seen as justifications for new federal programs that would necessarily restrict or supplant the failing family." p 235
"Minnesota's attorney general found 'many instances' of parents being charged with abuse at a time when their children 'had either denied the abuse or had not even been interviewed' and of parents being arrested and charged with abusing their own children 'even though these children denied the abuse through several weeks of interrogation and separation from their parents.' " p.251
"the social work profession has with only scattered exceptions, institutionalized the anti-middle class, anti-family values embraced during the 1960's"
"A second reason for pessimism is that child saving has become quite a lucrative business. In Sweden, always a decade ahead of America in the evolution of social policy... there are ten times as many children in foster care, on a per capita basis, as in neighboring Norway and Denmark. The reason? Foster parents... earn roughly $1200 per month or more for every child they took in. Moreover, half of this income, called a support allowance, was tax-free, the hardest kind of income to find in tax-happy Sweden. " p 252

The latest assault to parents comes in the form of the court system which is starting to treat international treaties as US law. Perhaps you remember the recent case of the Supreme Court which decided that juveniles who commit murders cannot be executed. The reason there was such an uproar over the case was that the decision was based on the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is not a ratified treaty. Congress needs to enact legislation that prevents courts from applying International treaties unless they have been ratified by the Senate.
If the UNCRC were to become a law of our land, parental rights would be goverened by a ten member committee in Geneva. This includes schooling, discipline, religious training, the amount of government money spent on children, and more. What a disaster this would be. Keep your ears open as legislation goes to Congress regarding these issues and make your voices heard.

Above all else: stay vigilent, pray often, raise your kids the best you can. Me too.

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