“Where Were Their Parents?”

by lewwaters

Teen 3How often have we either heard or said the same thing ourselves? Every time we read of a young person committing a crime and being arrested, caught up in some troubles, victimized by older people or even bullying other young people, that question is one of the first things we hear many step up and ask.

None of us stop and think that we have allowed government to intrude into our family life so much that parents have been relegated to secondary status behind teachers, school officials, Child Protection Services and more. Parents are expected to be responsible for their children, but at the same time big brother is looking over their shoulder and either injecting themselves between parent and child or encouraging the child to ignore their parents’ values and do as they say they should do.

Case in point, abortions on teenage girls without parents consent or even their knowledge.

Here in Washington State, laws pertaining to medical care of the young are very explicitly spelled out in regards to our education system and dispensing of medications and care in a printable guideline of when parental consent is not required.

As it should be, an unemancipated minor can receive emergency medical care without waiting for the parents to consent. And what parent would not want their child to receive immediate treatment in the case of a serious life threatening accident?

But looking down the list we see that our children can be treated for sexually transmitted disease, be placed on birth control, prenatal care, mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment and abortions with the parent denied any knowledge of it at all.

At the same time that same child cannot be immunized or receive regular non-emergency healthcare unless the parent is notified and gives their consent. In fact, RCW 28A.210.260 lays out the legal requirements for the dispensing of medications to a child. In sentence 3 we read,

“The public school district or private school is in receipt of a written, current and unexpired request from a parent, or a legal guardian, or other person having legal control over the student to administer the medication to the student;”

In simple terms, “PARENTAL CONSENT.”

A child under the age of 18 cannot even legally be be tattooed in Washington State, but can be placed on birth control or taken down for an abortion should she become pregnant and the parents completely left in the dark.

I’ll be the first one to agree there are some very poor parents, abusive parents and even occasionally incestuous parents, but they are in a distinct minority and when discovered, we have laws to deal with them. But these blanket solutions dreamed up by government over the years has stripped good, decent parents of their parental authority and rights as well.

To combat this invasion of family, 17th Legislative District State Senator Don Benton introduced a bill requiring parental notification when a minor under the age of 17 seeks an abortion. A public hearing was held Wednesday, February 6, 2013 and looking over comments left under the Columbian’s coverage of the hearing you would think Benton’s bill requires young girls to be beaten, abused and strapped with a ball and chain.

For example, several now confuse parental consent with “government intrusion.” Somehow, to them, eliminating the government or the school’s ability to take your daughter down for an abortion and require you be made aware is considered “government intrusion.”

And of course there is the ever present false accusation of “forcing your narrow religious beliefs onto the majority,” even though religion was not mentioned.

Others label it “legislating family communication,” ignoring the it is the government and schools who are interfering with family communication by encouraging your child to ignore your values, obtain free birth control and become sexually active if they feel like it, as many mid-teens unaware of the hormonal changes occurring within their bodies clouds their judgment.

Where these young teens needs the steady guidance of a parent, the school instead urges to submit to their confused feelings and just do it, take some birth control, hide it from your parents and just enjoy. And should the birth control fail, not to worry, the school or Planned Parenthood will help you hide that from your parents, they don’t need to know.

Yet also written into state law is RCW 4.24.190 that reads,

“The parent or parents of any minor child under the age of eighteen years who is living with the parent or parents and who shall willfully or maliciously destroy or deface property, real or personal or mixed, or who shall willfully and maliciously inflict personal injury on another person, shall be liable to the owner of such property or to the person injured in a civil action at law for damages in an amount not to exceed five thousand dollars. This section shall in no way limit the amount of recovery against the parent or parents for their own common law negligence.”

Parents are held responsible for the misdeeds of their minor children, but at the same time are in essence told to butt out in such decisions as sexual activity or terminating a pregnancy?

In the case of a girl with abusive parents or who has been subjected to an incestuous father or step-father, the girl can seek an advocate to petition the court to seek an abortion without a parents’ consent. It would also result in the abusive parent being reported and likely arrested for such conduct. Otherwise, it goes unreported and when the girl returns home, the abuse would continue.

And don’t forget, in the few cases where an abusive parent should be locked out, current law shuts out all parents in that children are told they can do what they desire, submitting to the confusing thoughts and feelings we all once had.

Face it, we too were young once and didn’t tell our parents everything we were doing. Years ago, when we were caught we faced our parents and even though we did not like it, were disciplined for such misconduct. But we learned there are consequences to our actions and parents were expected to take responsibility for whatever their child did, not just when the state says you are responsible.

We cannot demand responsibility from parents while encouraging our children to go around their parents. That sends mixed signals to both the child and the parent.

Some label this bill an effort to end abortions and that just isn’t so. Nothing in the bill denies young girl in trouble an abortion nor does it allow a parent to force their daughter to have an abortion. It just requires the parents’ knowledge prior to an abortion and gets the state out from in between parents and children.

After all, if we want families to better communicate, they don’t need the state teaching the child they don’t have to listen to their parents an interfering with parental authority without just cause.

Another reason parents must have knowledge of a minor girls abortion is the potential of side effects after such a procedure, both in their health and mental state. Even though not very common, as in every medical procedure, there are risks and someone must be aware of what to look out for. If the responsible parents are refused knowledge of the procedure having occurred, they don’t have a clue what is going on should one of the known side effects happen.

Our families, the cornerstone of our society have been steadily deteriorating for some time. We must bring that to a halt and restore families. The state cannot do it and in many ways has been responsible for much of the family deterioration with conflicting laws, over reaching mandates and witch hunts where families are ripped apart by trumped up allegations of wrong doing by over zealous prosecutors trying to build a political reputation.

In cases of actual abuse or neglect on the part of parents, the state must be there to protect the child, but not every family is neglectful and abusive and such conflicting laws and efforts by the state to lock parents out of their child’s decisions can only contribute to the deterioration of the family unit.

Teen years are rough, we all went through them and now realize that is probably when teens need the security of their parents the most, even though like us, refused to see that at the time.

We don’t need the state erecting a wall between parents and children.

Parents must know what their children are doing and must not be locked out of their teen’s lives if they are also to be held accountable for their children.

28 Comments to ““Where Were Their Parents?””

  1. I went up to Olympia yeaterday and testified on this bill. It is an excellent bill well written and in need of being passed. My whole written testimony is posted on my facebook page. The point here is that I think it might pass the Senate but Jim Moeller has two opportunities to kill it in the house. First he is speaker pro tem and as we witnessed with the “fund education first rule” he doesn’t concern himself with the well being of our children just the filching of our wallets so he killed it, he will act to do the same to this bill. He has said that he won’t let it see the floor of the house which he can do with the position of being on the rules committee. All bills must pass through there and “no action taken” is an option that kills many bills. That is what he will do unless we can media slam him hardcore for not caring about our kids. We must blast the paper and media with his name attached to it to make sure our kids count and get the guidance from their parents that they need.

  2. Lew, I worked the Family Court and Domestic violence clinics as an attorney, and am involved in Family Medicine, and have raised a family, and I completely disagree with this bill and your position. So, obviously there’s a difference of opinion which can only be solved in the courts. May the best side win.

  3. This bill has been upheld nine seperate times already in the US Supreme Court so the best side has already won.

  4. Face it Lew. We live in an increasingly insane society. What we used to call “good” i.e. parental oversight of the lives of their children, is now called “bad”. What we used to call “bad” i.e. governmental cooptation of parental rights, is now called “good”. The America I grew up in, the America you defended, no longer exists – or at the very least is so beaten down, diminished, and downtrodden, it’s hardly recognizable. I believe that a good number of Americans, possibly the majority, have swallowed the blue pill.

  5. Martin, is it your position that you do not want to be involved with your children’s lives? Or do you only feel others whose politics or religious views you dislike should be locked out of their children’s lives?

    How do you justify holding parents responsible for their child’s misdeeds when you support eliminating parents authority over their children and teaching them to ignore their parents at the same time?

    As I said in the post, there are provisions included for abusive parents, but just because you don’t want them to know and the school makes it easy for you is not a n excuse to deny parents their parental rights while holding them responsible for what the kids do.

  6. Carolyn, your point is well taken.

    Lew, parents are biologic and family is random. Most people make more mistakes than not and life is how you perceive it. This is a typical liberal (and Liberal) view that is in conflict with religious myth & values, which is why we can’t agree on this issue. Democracy will see us through and, frankly, I’ll accept your side if it wins.

  7. Agree or not, Martin, how do you justify the law holding parents responsible for children’s misdeeds while it also shuts parents out of important matters like an abortion and birth control?

  8. Parents should be responsible for the care and upbringing of their children. Children should be likewise respectful to their parents and should (be able to) discuss any matter, no matter how personal it might be, with their parents so that good decisions in the best interest of the child can be made — including adult input. That is the ideal.

    Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. Especially in the case of sexual health (whether birth control, treatment of venereal diseases, or even abortion) where there are parents who are not capable of “dealing rationally with” these matters. The outcome can range from assault or turning a child (under 18) out into the street — or even murder of the minor child under the principle that the actions of the child (especially if female) has “brought disgrace upon the family.”

    To demand that a teen old make application to legal authority to request “permission” to not discuss their sexual health needs without involving their parents is rather a leap. Consider the typical administrative delays associated with such an application — and the need of a scared, insecure teen to discuss personal matters with a variety of adult strangers (clerks of the court, court officers, and judges) in addition to the emotional difficulties of dealing with the medical people they’d also involve is quite a stretch. Admittedly, if the teen had the emotional maturity to deal with all these issues, it’s unlikely that they’d also have gotten into the position where they needed discreet help in the first place.

    The reality of “must notify parents” laws involving matter’s of a minor child’s sexual health is primarily an effort to interfere with decisions for abortions. I understand the arguments made by the so-called “pro life” adherents. I simply do not accept those arguments. The types of situations where teens need discrete assistance with their sexual health needs are sadly too common in today’s society — and the consequences of these problems can have a lasting impact on the child’s life — long into their adulthood.

    Frankly, I think that “good parents” will be able to encourage their children to discuss such serious issues with them. But there seem to be relatively few “good parents” out there these days.

    These are, and should be, matters between the owner of the genitalia, their medical advisors, and their spiritual advisors where the government does not have any role whatsoever. Laws such as the one you’re supporting are none of the government’s business.

  9. John, you make a reasoned argument, but I disagree.

    In the case of those sort of parents you mention, the bill explicitly grants the underage girl the legal right to seek a waiver anonymously should she be able to show endangerment for abusive parents. That also would result in an abusive parent being reported and made known. But they are in a distinct minority.

    The bill also grants such a waiver if sought if the court does not act duly in a decision in a short amount of time.

    Teenagers are not mature in most cases and no matter how good a parent has been, teens don’t always keep parents informed of decisions made often under peer pressure. In the case of a pregnancy, they may be limited in what counseling they receive or undue pressure to seek an abortion without being informed of the potential psychological and medical after effects. The parents, who are still held responsible for their minor children are clueless as to what is happening.

    Parents have a right to teach their children the values of their choice, be it religious, political or non. As it stands now, that right is interfered with by pro-abortion factions who seem to only care how many abortions they can see performed.

    If a girl of 14 or so can go behind her parents backs and have an abortion, why can’t she also decide to smoke if she chooses? It is illegal for to her buy a pack of smokes, but she can be encouraged to seek an abortion should the school supplied birth control fail? All without her parents knowledge, even the good parents who believe their little girl is staying in touch with them.

    I cannot agree that teens, who are not known to make the best of decisions should be encouraged or allowed to make such an important decision, often at the behest of pro-abortion factions, totally eliminate the parents from the equation and then, hold the parents responsible for other bad decisions and misdeeds they may make.

    There is a reason they have age of consent laws and legal age limitations on drinking, smoking, voting and even driving a car.

    But not for an abortion?

    If we expect parents to be more responsible for their children, we have to let them be as well.

    And don’t forget, there is provision for the bad parents that will protect the minor child.

  10. 48 hours is what the court has to act on the girls request in this bill. If they do not act in that time the waiver is automatic. I think a girl can handle waiting 48 hours with an advocate assisting and I really am tired of the argument that it is too scary to go to court. If a girl gets pregnant at 15 or below in age it is rape and I am tired of people protecting the rapist under the guise of being compassionate for the girl. It is much more compassionate to stop the rapes from occuring and lest you think that is rare I must tell you the stats show 21% of girls under the age of 16 get pregnant and 90% of those were forcibly raped! So… just stop now before I really lose my temper.

  11. You should go look at the house bill regarding 3rd party visitation. It seems reasonable enough until they start in on the language surrounding the sexual offender stuff. When it states that visitation shall be granted if the sexual offender is deemed to be a minimal risk to the child I lost it. MINIMAL RISK! Any foreseen unnecessary risk is insane! This group of people we have running our state needs errrr!

  12. “Friend,” that is the most insightful understanding on this issue I have ever seen from a Conservative!

    Lew, you are just an OWG embarrassing yourself.

    Carolyn, keep up the fight you believe in.

  13. Thank you Martin I will.

  14. Martin, why are you such a rebellious bastard?Do you really hate the world and yourself that much that you can’t stand any segment of society seeking orderly structure at all?

  15. Lew, I have stated my specific arguments about this type of bill — but my opinion is based on an overriding philosophical viewpoint.

    Over the years, I’ve often disliked the Democrats because they wanted to get into my wallet to spend my money on things I didn’t like. But in the same vein, I have often disliked the Republican party because they want to supervise the goings on in my bedroom and in my doctor’s office. All I want is to be left alone to do what I feel is right for me in my own judgment.

    The ideal is to expand personal liberty. That’s what the Declaration of Independence was about — and it is what the Constitution was written to ensure (not that much attention has been paid to the Constitution in recent years).

    The “parent notification” type of bill interferes with the right for a minor to seek health care for his or her (mostly her) sexual health. But most states have long had a principle where minors could seek medical attention (for many things) in emergency situations without parental involvement. Indeed, the underlying legal principle is that minors may rescind contracts (without cause — only because they are a minor), but exceptions to that privilege are made for medical care and a few other specific categories of contract.

    Thus, anything that is not exempted from the right of rescission that minors have, becomes a matter where providers of such products and services require parental/guardian intervention. Of course there are a few other matters where government has established age requirements, such as becoming licensed for an automobile driver’s license or purchasing alcoholic beverages.

    The point is that we should have a society of maximum liberty. The nanny state should not be intervening in any matters, whether trivial (such as demanding the wearing of bicycle helmets, mandating a limit on the size of a soft drink, or what medical services that a minor may contract for without parental involvement).

    I understand that many conservatives wish to establish various “social norms” on society. But this is repugnant to liberty. If you feel that abortion is wrong — they you are free to persuade all who will listen to join you in your opinion. Likewise for many other opinions and activities, whether smoking, using drugs or alcohol, a ‘high’ flush toilet, water taps without flow restricters, gasoline without alcohol, standard light bulbs, etc., etc. Do your best to persuade others to join together with you and forswear these (and other) potentially destructive activities.

    Likewise, the liberal/progressives should also be free to make their case to the public regarding various behaviors and opinions they wish to advocate.

    In the bulk of all the big “culture war” issues, the government should have no role.

    Since the subject of the legislation is parental notification for a minor’s abortion, the fact is that the government should not have a role either pro or con on this point. It is not up to the left to impose their views nor on the right to insist on their view either. It is the right of the individual to make up their own mind.

    The Constitution lists only a handful of crimes. Traditionally, states had a relatively small list of criminal acts. The operative issue is that no one should initiate force against another (but if force is initiated, then an individual may defend themselves).

    Today, both the left and the right have imposed tens of thousands of laws and regulations at the state and Federal level. Any prosecutor, should he or she so decide, can easily prosecute anyone — because every day every one of us violates many laws and regulations — mostly ones we never even heard of.

    The culture war is a loser for the right — because most of it does not belong in the realm of government. And the worst case is that often the right sets the precedent that might allow the left to do just the opposite.

    For example, if you make a law that prohibits abortion — many on the right might then cheer — but that establishes that government has a legitimate interest in the very personal decisions people make about reproduction and the use of their own bodies. Then, at some future date, the left might establish a “one child policy” (as China has had for some time) — thus requiring that the state perform abortions on those who violate the one-child policy. It is much better that the government never be given any authority at all in reproductive decisions by individuals.

    The less the government is involved in our daily lives the better off we are.

  16. Martin, you commend ‘Friend’ for being understanding and insightful, but his is certainly not a conservative viewpoint. Following your effusive praise of ‘Friend’, you throw rocks at Lew who makes an even more insightful and understanding argument than does ‘Friend’. Ever consider that just maybe you’re an OWL, unable to see through your political blinders?

    Regarding Friend’s argument, I would say yeah, I agree with some of your points, but for those of us who do have healthy relationships with our children and open communication with them, kids will still do the darnedest things – like being impulsive for example (which is most likely the reason they need an abortion in the first place). The nature of children is that they really are children – they are unequipped to make major life decisions like having an abortion. Why should we be forced to allow the government to usurp our parental rights for the few instances where there is such an unhealthy parent-child relationship that the child would be put in danger if they approached their parent with news of a pregnancy? Why are we to be prevented from protecting our children? You may be correct that the consequences of dealing with upset parents can have an impact on children far into adulthood, but the consequences of an abortion have far greater consequences and last far longer than you can imagine.

  17. John, where we seem to disagree is “interferes with the right for a minor to seek health care for his or her (mostly her) sexual health.”

    Minor children are under the control of their parents, or are supposed to be. Parents have been pushed aside too much, in my estimation and laws allowing others to influence their decisions, which admittedly are not always for the best in the teen years, usurps a parents ability to control or properly teach their children.

    Girl or boy, especially girls, are subjected to sexual matters much to young and told not to worry, keep it from your parents, we’ll give you birth control and an abortion if it fails.

    That is an interference with the family.

    Where I am coming from, our families have to be restored to let family matters remain within the family. We have laws to deal with abusers, but when they are used to usurp parental authority while another law holds parents responsible for their child’s actions, the only outcome can be fractured families. Nearly all families face teen years where the teen feels they are more mature than they really are. We went through it ourselves.

    Teaching them to just bypass parents furthers that divide.

    And you’re right, the government shouldn’t have a role, but they already took it upon themselves to insert themselves by passing laws bypassing the very parents they hold accountable. It takes another law to overshadow that law.

    That is why I say this is not inserting government, it is removing it.

  18. Okay so Friend of John Galt is in err here. I for one had a young man approach my house 20 years ago with his hand over his eye. Blood was gushing everywhere. As I looked out my kitchen window and saw this teenager cutting across the back deck straight for my door I almost fainted at the amount of blood I saw. At first I did not recognize the child but rushing him in and laying him prone I got a cold ice pack and clean clothes to see what was wrong. He moved his hand and I saw his eyeball hanging out of the socket. I cleaned up his face and neck and packed the eye back into the socket and put the ice on it all the while talking to the young man. Turns out he knew me although I didn’t know him. He was the stepson of a friend of mine. His Dad was a long distance truck driver and was out of state at the time. His mother was dead and his stepmother had vanished. He had been shot by an air pellet gun. I called the Dad’s boss and left a message, I called the state troopers and left a message, I called the truck scales at the state line on the highway where he would cross to come back into the state and left a message. Then I was faced with a serious choice, let this kid bleed out and lose his eye or try to get him medical attention. So I got all the pertainent information from him and called the boss back getting the insurance information and headed for a hospital. That child was mine all of a sudden and I saw to it he lived and his eye was fixed. I lied that day. I said I was his mom because the hospital will not treat a child without parental consent. So shoot me now okay. His Dad was grateful and never told, I don’t feel bad but when you state that the parental rights are null and void everywhere for healthcare you are wrong. Completely wrong. Had I not acted that quickly, had I not laid him down and iced his socket the ophthamological surgeon could not have worked so quickly to save his eye. Nonetheless I violated his parents rights that day.

  19. Carolyn, emergencies do NOT require parental permission. In fact, even non-emergencies do NOT require parental permission – they only require a court order (blood infusions for Christian Scientists’ children, for example). Most larger hospitals have an attorney on staff that can get a CO in 15 minutes for all kinds of circumstances where a parent’s demands are ignored. In fact, Washington State’s law ALWAYS puts the children’s best interests before the parent’s desires.

    Your experience not-withstanding.

  20. I realize that he could have gotten care in our state under an emergency such as this one here and now Martin. That was not so when this occurred. And right now non critical or life threatening emergencies still require parental consent. Except of course for mental health and reproductive health and sexual health based issues, which are some of the most life altering and really do need a wiser more experienced head in the process. Many states do not allow any care without the parent even that which is emergency care. Probably has to do with their liability laws but I wouldn’t know since that would be a whole round of research I don’t have time for being way to busy keeping up with us here in this state right now. We do a lot of things right here but lord help us we go so far overboard on some stuff and completely ignore some others that are in critical need of attention.

  21. So, Martin, in the event something goes wrong… anything… who bears pecuniary liability for that decision?

    Anything at any time that goes wrong with this… who has to pay?

    Does the clinic providing the abortion have to pay for any further expense? What about complications? Who’s on the hook for that?

    I’ve got to tell you: it seems just the tiniest bit odd to me that in Washington State, it’s illegal for minors to get tattoos… you can’t get your ears pierced as a minor without parental approval… you can’t enter into a contract, or own property, or get a license to drive… but you CAN get an abortion without your parents even knowing.

    I believe in the law there should be a commonality… a thread of common sense, if you will. We tell these kids that here’s a list of things you cannot do because you can’t form the requisite consent. We tell a 14 year old girl for example, that she cannot have sex with a 19 year old, because she can’t form consent. It’s perfectly legal for that same girl to have sex with, say, a 16 year old, though. And even though she can’t legally form consent to have sex with a 19 year old, or vote, or drink, or form a corporation or any of those elements of an adult life; what she CAN do, magically, is form the necessary consent to undergo an invasive medical procedure where the parents are held financially liable for bad outcomes when they weren’t even aware the procedure had taken place?

    I don’t even have to get into the morality question to object to such a legal arrangement. To hold me liable for a decision that my child made without my knowledge?

    I don’t think so.

  22. Well, we are liable for all things our kids do. I suppose they base that thought on the fact that we made the original choice to have sex, and not the abortion to go along with it, and keep the child. I am mostly okay with that since we are supposed to be the responsible adult with some modicum of wisdom exercised in the rearing of that offspring. I do realize that all kids do dumb things that get them in some form of a jam at some point while growing up. That being said when my son and his little buddy ate the rododendren blossoms at age 6 I definitly made him drink charcoal water to neutralize the poison. His buddy’s mom took her son to the emergency room afterwhich she got the bill. We each made choices and both the end results were safe and healthy children albeit mine cost less. On this issue of abortion and other forms of medical proceedures I think that the line sort of stays the same don’t you? They made a dumb choice and we need to help solve the problem as their parents. I was definitely angry and frustrated when my son informed me that his girlfriend was pregnant, mostly because we had talked about this and I provided the necessary raincoats :) but none the less the issue was here and his life was changed as was mine and Ricks forever. Corey is a wonderful grandson and that is a decision we all came to together. His mother may be less than desirable but lucky for him his father and grandparents are not. Another person may choose another path but that will be between them and God. The real answer here is that as a teenagers parent I had to help with the housing, food and diapers of a child I didn’t have the choice in creating only the choice in loving. Oh, and the choice in paying for. Parents must have that information in order to help their child deal with the stress of the mistakes and live through them. In order to help them be emotionally healthy loving and still successful adults someday we have to be informed. In order to keep the original promise we made when we first held our children and kissed their little baby cheeks we must be informed. Then we can keep loving them.

  23. Kelly, my guess is that most underage females with good relationships with their parents DO TELL them if they at are pregnant, and the ones that don’t – there’s a reason for that.

    Carolyn, I agree with everything you just wrote. I would be the same way with my kids. I guess the only difference between our positions is “who makes the decision?”

  24. Carolyn has it right. The point is, minors should be able to contract for medical care, either for an emergency or for an urgent matter without parental consent. After a cursory review of the relevant sections of the Washington RCW, I find that parental “control” is interfered with in numerous circumstances. The most relevant provision allows a child of age 14 and up to obtain medical treatment for sexually transmitted diseases without parental permission or notification.

    In the case where Carolyn described the injuries that her neighbor’s child endured, it appears that delays would likely have occurred without her intervention by claiming parent or guardian status. (The presence or absence of hospital lawyers, not withstanding.) Clearly this was an emergency situation — and any delay in treatment, of even a few hours, could easily resulted in the loss of vision.

    Medical treatment, especially of the emergency sort, is tied up in a huge web of government regulation, treatment facility policies regarding payment, insurance companies’ rules, legal liabilities of medical staff (especially if treatment should not have a positive outcome), etc. In other words, much of the “problem” with obtaining medical care is caused by local, state, and Federal governments, complicated by general policies of insurance companies (as influenced by the various levels of government).

    Washington seems to have involved itself rather deeply in parent-child relationships. In a few cases, enhancing parental involvement and in most other cases reducing or eliminating parental “rights.” I did not take the time to research every intervention — and I’m sure there are many others, especially in the area of education and employment. Indeed, the general governmental attitude is that children “belong” to the state and the rules are designed to reduce or eliminate the influence that “uninformed” parents might have.

    When a child is born, it is 100% dependent on his/her parents (or surrogate caregiver). As the child grows older, that dependency is reduced — at first not by very much — but later on (typically around puberty), children become rather more autonomous. The societal view of when this occurs is subject to wide variation. For example, throughout the U.S. the “age of consent” (for sexual relations) varies from Age 16 to 18. In Washington (state), it is age 16. It then follows, that minors (age 16 and above) should be able to obtain medical services relating to sexual diseases and abortion, since the state has already declared these minors able to decide for themselves regarding whether or not to have sexual relations. Thus the reasonable assumption is that the individual should be able to make all decisions relating to the consequences of their action.

    The provision I referred to in the first paragraph indicates that even a minor of age 14 is permitted to obtain medical services for disease that is the result of sexual intercourse even though another provision indicates that a 14 or 15 year old is not capable of giving consent for such activity. This is an interesting conflict in the law, as it seems to imply that a minor, aged 14 or 15 can give consent — as the law protects their confidentiality, rather than insisting that names and ages of participants be identified and prosecuted. Of course, the liberal argument is that this confidentiality “promotes the treatment of infectious sexual diseases” (which I’m sure it does) and thus any other consequences should be ignored. (Polls suggest that a large number of girls engage in their first coitus at about age 15.)

    I note that the age for consent for marriage, without parental consent, is 18 (in Washington). However parents may consent to a marriage at age 17. Below age 17 both parental consent and a court order is required. This is oddly inconsistent with the age of consent for sexual relations. Age of consent for marriage, with and without parental consent varies widely throughout the U.S. — but in states where at one time marriage (with parental consent) was once allowed at age 13 or 14 appear to have moved to an older age, with 16 now being the lowest marriage with parental consent age. (Marriage results in the automatic “emancipation” of a minor, giving them most of the rights and responsibilities of an adult, although they’re still not allowed to purchase alcoholic beverages.)

    So … yes, the state of Washington seems to have intervened deeply in the relationship between parents and their children. It is likely that much of this intervention is undesirable (but it is also unlikely to be reduced without substantial political action by enraged parents). It is what it is.

    Rather than mandating rules based on particular philosophical grounds — that clearly are not accepted by society as a whole — isn’t it better to reduce or eliminate as many rules and interferences by the state in parent-child relationships as possible? (And this goes well beyond sexual matters, but includes education, employment, and many other activities engaged in by minors.) The whole concept of liberty is ignored by these multitude of government interventions.

  25. Interestingly enough, as we discuss eliminating parents in a child’s medical decisions, another parental issue is being discussed in our state, the rights of a parent in a “fractured” family to decide who sees their child or not, primarily focusing on grandparents.

    An editorial in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin last Friday titled “Legislature shouldn’t tamper with parents’ rights” has the subheading, “The state has no business overruling parents on which relatives are allowed to visit their children.”

    Within the editorial is,

    “In 2000 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar attempt by Washington state to legislate this matter. The high court upheld a state Supreme Court ruling saying Washington’s law went too far in granting grandparents authority to petition courts for visitation.”

    “The family entity is the core element upon which modern civilization is founded,” the Washington Supreme Court wrote. “A parent’s constitutionally protected right to rear his or her children without state interference has been recognized as a fundamental interest … and also as a fundamental right derived from the privacy rights inherent in the Constitution.”

    But somehow, that “fundamental right” does not apply when it comes to birth control or obtaining an abortion for an underage child.

    Personally, I feel our children are pushed into sexual activity way too young today. From movies, television, internet sites, peer pressure and even some school actions, young kids are led to believe becoming sexually active is a great thing, their right and if your parents disagree, ignore them and obtain free birth control from the school nurse. If it fails and the girl becomes pregnant, no worry, we’ll go behind the parents back and get you an abortion.

    It’s like the state is working against the family and parental control, yet holding them accountable too.

    I do have some first hand experience in how school interfere with families right here in Vancouver from when I had step children a few years ago and a school counselor took it upon himself to engage in a witch hunt mentality. Kids learned real early if they said anything against their parents or a step parent, he rewarded them with a piece of candy. NO words against the parent or step parent, no candy.

    In one incident, word got back to me that he told the boy he would come over and “beat me up.” I didn’t take kindly to that and complained to the school, scheduling a meeting with him and the principal the next day. When I got there, I was accused of trying to start a fight and the counselor gleefully told me he had already reported me to CPS for “abusing one of the girls” who had been treated by the school nurse the previous day when she fell on the playground and skinned her knees. Even though it was recorded the minor abrasions occurred at school, he reported that I did it to her at home.

    Needless to say, our meeting did not go well and when CPS came out, they admitted there was nothing there.

    But that set in motion a series of visits and calls from CPS as the kids felt empowered now and if I disciplined them by not letting them watch TV, I was abusive. I even hav a letter still where I was accused of “contributing to a minors suicidal tendencies” for listening to my music. No one came out and looked at what I have, they just accused.

    And my music falls along the lines of 50’s and 60’s rock, country and Big Band from the 30’s and 40’s.

  26. Lew, you open a whole other can of worms here. The government school system is based on the Prussian public schools system established in the 18th century — with the intent of creating citizens who will take direction and make good soldiers. Various groups in the United States took up this idea (of public schools) and over a period of years persuaded different states to establish public schools modeled on the German idea, but modified to “create good Americans” — this goal was later captured and taken over by progressives (“progressive education”) to support a statist tilt to our civil society.

    Public schools should be abolished in their entirety. We should have a free market in education, with entrepreneurs offering schools with different programs and approaches that would suit parents and students without any government interference. If necessary, tax credits/vouchers similar to the earned income credit could be used to help low income parents finance their children’s education.

    Currently, highly coercive compulsory education laws require school attendance with the threat of jail to parents if they and their children do not comply. Parents are usually forced to use government schools, if for no other reason than they must pay for them even if they don’t use them. (Note: I went to a (non-Cathloic) parochial school — as the local public school system was corrupt and failing — and eventually became the first public school district in California to fall into bankruptcy. I was fortunate that my parents were sufficiently affluent to pay both school taxes and tuition.)

    The idea for compulsory education may have originated with Martin Luther — who advocated compulsory education so that people could read the Bible for themselves.

  27. I agree 100% with the foregoing comment by Friend. I suppose we’ll both be targeted by Predator drones for “domestic terrorism” to even suggest such a thing.

  28. This has been a great and open format for the discussion of the issues regarding parental rights and responsibilities in our state. I can only hope that more of these types of comments create a better communication between parents in order to regain control of government interferrence and turn back its tide.

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