By Stephen Baskerville
Posted: March 15, 2008
The California appeals court decision criminalizing parents who homeschool their children is only the tip of an iceberg. Nationwide, parents are already being criminalized in huge numbers, and it is not limited to homeschoolers.
During the Clinton years, the trend toward turning children into tools for expanding government power increased rapidly. Otherwise indefensible programs and regulations are now rationalized as "for the children."
As a result, government now has so many ways to incarcerate parents that hardly a family in America has not been touched. The criminalization of parents is highly bureaucratic, effected through a bureaucratic judiciary and supported by a vast "social services" machinery that few understand until it strikes them.
They then find themselves against a faceless government behemoth from which they are powerless to protect their children or defend themselves.
Homeschoolers are usually accused of "educational neglect," a form of child abuse. Like other child abuse accusations, it does not usually involve a formal charge, uniformed police, or a jury trial. Instead the accusations are leveled by social workers, whose subjective judgment is minimally restrained by due-process protections. As Susan Orr, head of the federal Children's Bureau points out, these social workers are in effect plainclothes police – but they are not trained or restricted like regular police.
Homeschoolers are not alone. Any parents can be charged with "child abuse" on the flimsiest of pretexts, because child abuse has no definition. Because of our presumption of innocence, crimes are generally defined as they are adjudicated: A crime has been committed if a jury convicts. But the roughly 1 million cases of child abuse annually (out of 3 million accusations) are "confirmed" or "substantiated" not by jury trials but by social workers or (sometimes) judges.
Most such parents are not imprisoned. They merely lose their children.
Virtually every American can now tell of a relative or friend visited by the feared Child Protective Services because of a playground injury or a routine bruise.
Too many dismiss these frightening ordeals as aberrations. In fact, they proceed from a bureaucratic logic that is driven by federal funding. The more "abuse" the social workers find, the more money they get to combat it.
(Read the rest)
Monday, March 17, 2008
Posted by No Apology at 7:00 PM