From Nanny-State To Mum And Dad: How The State Is Increasingly Trying To Bring Up Our Children
You know, I always thought that ‘the state’ in this country was supposed to be there to maintain public infrastructure, services, law and order and the like, to enable its citizens to live their lives in liberty and safety and as they choose (provided they don’t harm anyone) but, not to get too conspiratorial about it, it seems to be fast turning into the opposite.
Laws are being made and rules put in place that are increasingly regulating not only how individuals interact with each other but over ruling and attacking the judgments and choices made by private citizens, in favour of shepherding society into adopting the value system of those in Government.
I could use examples such as ‘hate crimes’ which effectively criminalise name calling, but my main concern is that now the Mummy state is trying to take control of our children, via increased rules and regulations about how parents bring up their own children.
The number of areas the state is encroaching on is increasing, whether it’s controlling the food parents feed their children or when and how they will learn about the birds-and-the-bees.
Not only is it dictatorial but it will also lead to many parents becoming ill-equipped to bring up their children without the guidance of the state.
Parents tell me that you learn as you go along what works and what doesn’t and if the state gives parents its version of the answers at every turn, no one will develop parenting skills of their own. Society will end up with a load of clones and parents won’t know what to do without the state telling them. The state will become Mum and Dad.
When I was at school, my teachers wouldn’t have dreamt of policing what was in my lunchbox or confiscating an item that had been put in it to eat or drink.
While I can accept a ban on food containing peanuts, as we can’t expect children to be responsible or aware of the need to protect those with dangerous allergies, I wholeheartedly object to schools over-ruling parents on what else can or can’t be fed to them by their parents. Yet many schools do exactly that.
I can understand the argument that people need to learn to make healthy choices, but that’s the point. The vast majority of parents want only the best for their children and aren’t going to ignore sensible, health based warnings from experts about the food they give their children.
But, they need to learn it, not be dictated to and their child effectively taught that the school, not mum, knows best. Furthermore, if the state simply dictates it, no one will actually learn anything.
Parents are being blamed for childhood obesity whereas it’s the economy that makes it cheaper to serve processed food than fresh, that requires both parents to work and there be little time for the preparation of decent meals. Of course, the state itself is hardly blameless for the childhood obesity problem since at best the state has failed to preserve opportunities for children to exercise whether at school or home. School playing fields have been sold off over a period of decades, local and rural schools have been closed forcing children into vehicles to name some examples.
Off course, the problem isn’t restricted to just the dinner-hall, in the classroom too, parents are being over-ruled on matters that should really be personal to the individual, particularly on sex and relationship education.
The liberal elite are now removing the opt-out parents had to absent their child from sex education and are now making it compulsory. In Wales sex and relationships education will be embedded across the curriculum and so even if Welsh Government were not intending to remove the right for parents to opt their children out, the only effective way of doing so will be to remove the child from the school.
Children will be taught that all kinds of family set-ups are completely normal. Now, this is something that I personally agree with and similarly, I think a gay couple is no less able to give a child the love and parenting they need than a straight one and think that homosexuality or otherwise is about how you’re wired from conception. But that is not the point either.
It’s an interesting hypocrisy that with one breath the liberals say we should tolerate all religions, then in another say that state education doesn’t have to and that parents lose any right to bring their children up according to their own belief system as soon as the child goes to school. The rules that apply to you and me about religious tolerance don’t apply to the state when it suits them to ignore religious teachings and impose their own particular brand of orthodoxy.
These state sanctioned norms and values are being taught across the education system, forming the basis of conversations with children and moulding their moral and ethical sensibilities out of the gaze of parents. We’ve already had a school accused of trying to identify the child who had, controversially, voiced admiration for a person disapproved of by the school. Before too long we will see a parent being questioned by the police or social services because they have given a different opinion than the school, when their child has asked for help with their homework about sex and relationships. Accusations of intolerance and discrimination, or child neglect for failing to say ‘everything is acceptable’, are a real possibility.
But as far as police and social services involvement are concerned, the most sinister development has to be the so-called ‘smacking ban’.
If ever you need an example of the state clearly telling parents ‘you’re doing it all wrong’, fixing something that isn’t broken and using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, it’s the smacking ban.
Although we call it the smacking ban (because that is what it is in effect) Welsh Government actually intends to remove the defence of reasonable chastisement from parents where they have struck their children and caused no injury or mark.
I’m not a fan of smacking children, but do you know what, practically nobody else is a fan of it either, not even those parents who have had occasion to smack their child.
The current defence of reasonable chastisement has not proved to be a gateway for abusive parents to beat their children. It does not seem to have been used as a defence to get abusive parents a not-guilty verdict in court, there is no suggestion that it has failed as a piece of legislation and we do not have any reported epidemic of parents smacking their children. The proponents of the smacking ban are unable to identify anything wrong with the effect of the present law and do not even foresee a rise in convictions.
It is purely a piece of virtue signaling to say the state knows best and that ‘parents can’t be trusted’.
With no evidence whatsoever, a child will be able to make an allegation that a parent gave them the lightest of taps and the state will have to get involved. The parent will then be in a guilty until proven innocent scenario, regardless of what the law says on presumption of guilt.
At the moment, if there is a mark left on the child’s body, it can be said that the smack was more than reasonable chastisement, but under the new rules, an offence could have taken place even if the smack didn’t cause any pain or leave any mark at all.
Where does grabbing a child to stop them running into the road sit with this new law? If you grab an adult without their consent, it is assault. With no technical defence, it would be the same if you did that to a child. Presumably in court a parent would be found not guilty if they could show they acted in order to prevent harm to the child in this case, but any initial complaint from the child would have to be investigated in the first place and that threat may well be enough to make some parents think twice before intervening.
It will lead to a very hands-off approach to parenting, asking children to stop fighting instead of pulling them apart, repeatedly asking them nicely to give their little sister her toy back, without being able to grab it out of their hands.
There are far worse forms of abuse than a light smack, emotional abuse for example, but tackling that requires more resources than the government want to spend, (there’s a limit to how much they care) so a simple smacking ban is what they’re opting for.
They can’t stop there being innocent victims of Female Genital Mutilation or grooming gangs, but they can stop parents lightly smacking an unruly child.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not objecting to the lunchbox police, the type of compulsory sex education (or rather dictation) and the smacking ban because I necessarily disagree with the sentiments behind them.
I just think that parents should be allowed to be parents and to bring up their children according to their own conscience. Of course, there should be protections in place to ensure safety of the child, but if you look at the very poor outcomes for children in state care and the targeting of such vulnerable children by grooming gangs, the state is hardly in a position to be lecturing parents about how to raise children. I do not think society is going to fall apart because little David has a sausage roll in his lunchbox, or that he had a smacked bottom for swearing at his Grandad – but it will suffer if the state becomes self-appointed Mum.
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