Magazine article The World and I

Do We Need the Parental Rights Amendment?

Magazine article The World and I

Do We Need the Parental Rights Amendment?

Article excerpt

What is the proper relationship among the state, parents, and children? If the state (in the form of its judges, schools, social workers, or other bureaucrats) and parents disagree about the nurture, discipline, or education of children, whose opinion should take precedence? Is there any general solution to that problem, or must it be decided on a case-by-case basis? Is current practice on this set of questions the best that can be achieved, or is a drastic change necessary? Do we now have, as some say, the worst of all worlds in the arena of child welfare? If so, would adoption of a constitutional amendment--the so-called Parental Rights Amendment (PRA)--asserting that the right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right, help our situation?

Our theme this month takes up this question by presenting the views of advocates, pro and con, on the PRA.

Colby May, an attorney with the American Center for Law and Justice, presents some background information on the way that law, the courts, and tradition have handled the question of parental rights in American history.

Shannon Royce, from the advocacy group Of the People, claims that recent changes in elite attitudes, court rulings, and bureaucratic intrusions into family matters have made adoption of the PRA overwhelmingly necessary. She claims, furthermore, that adoption of this amendment, with a clause asserting that the state maintains a compelling interest in investigating, prosecuting, and punishing child abuse or neglect, will solve the supposed problem of the PRA's making it increasingly impossible for the state to intervene in cases where parents are engaging in genuine child abuse or neglect. …

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