So It’s Come to This

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Public health academics are now seriously suggesting that the government take obese children away from their parents.

I’m not sure there’s really much debate to be had here. You either find this self-evidently horrifying, or you don’t.


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85 Responses to “So It’s Come to This”

  1. #1 |  Highway | 

    Steve, I can certainly see how it would be effective for some people. And perhaps it’s even been 100% effective so far. But when any program is expanded beyond a few corner cases, there will be a reduction in success rate.

    What I was trying to get at is this question: If we are blaming the parents for the child being overweight, to the point where they are removed from their custody and care, what would then happen if one of the children removed didn’t lose weight. Would there be any vindication of the parents? Would there be blame and punishment for the foster parents? Would there be further transference of the child through different foster parents until they *did* lose weight?

    My concern is that you’re setting up a lot of people to have their lives negatively altered by the actions of a teenager.

  2. #2 |  Big A | 

    Sounds like there are lots of people who actually think this isn’t a completely unreasonable idea. If this issue is of such personal concern, why not take action yourselves? Someone earlier suggested that delivering veggie baskets would be a far less intrusive, far less expensive option to combat the problem. If you agree with the government intervention, why not start up a local organization in which members volunteer $50, ask fat families around the neighborhood if they wanna participate, and deliver some fruits and veggies to those who do? Or gather some people and put in a community garden. “By the people” means that if you see something you want done, rather than legislating a bunch of other people to do it for you, just go freakin’ do it yourself. All action does not have to be taken by the government.

  3. #3 |  John Jenkins | 

    @Steve Verdon: Cherry-picking the most extreme examples to make your case is all well and good, and it might support medical intervention in extreme cases, but that doesn’t support the general case, nor does it say anything about line drawing. No one is denying empirical evidence, because no one is presenting enough evidence from which to draw a conclusion (a few anecdotes regarding extreme outliers don’t really buttress the case, a point I was trying to make in my comment above). None of the “data” being cited is reliable for decision-making purposes. These are editorials and commentaries from doctors, not rigorous studies of anything.

    I can find anecdotes where people lost weight eating nothing but Subway and McDonald’s. You can’t deny that. Does that mean it’s generally a good idea? I don’t think so, and I doubt you do, either.

    Then there are the open issues: Who would make the decisions? What would the diagnostic criteria be? What due process rights would attach? Would the parents be entitled to representation? Would the child have a guardian ad litem representing the child’s interests? To what extent would the child’s wishes be taken into account? Does anyone have a right to be fat and happy versus less fat and unhappy? Why does the state get to make that call?

    In High School I was 6’2″ tall and 230# and the BMI tables say I was obese. You’ll have to take my word for it that I wasn’t what anyone would describe as obese, but should I have been taken from my parents because some tedious government functionary thought my BMI should be lower?

    Finally, as a general policy prescription, this seems unnecessary. If a minor’s weight is truly life-threatening, then child protective services already have the tools available (including foster care) to help children out. Some number that can easily be applied in the field would only take judgment out of the equation and result in unjust outcomes (see, e.g., zero tolerance policies). I don’t see how a broadening of the processes that currently exist (with broad due process rights, and protections for the rights of the child) is necessary or justified.

  4. #4 |  2nd of 3 | 

    “You either find this self-evidently horrifying, or you don’t.”

    I don’t.

  5. #5 |  B | 

    #22 I was referring to extreme absolute poverty and starvation. Not the relative poverty of lower class Americans. Yes I’m aware obesity and low income are correlated in the US. But obesity is also common among the middle class.

    Malnutrition causes much more revulsion because it is exclusively a problem of the extremely poor (Africa, India, etc). We hear campaigns all the time that nobody in America should have to go hungry.

  6. #6 |  Chris in AL | 

    The really scary part to me is that so much of this kind of thing does not start with the government. It starts with common US civilian. The kind who says they love America, have a bar-b-q and fireworks on the 4th of July, fly the flag from their doorway on Memorial day.

    When they are the ones suggesting the government should steal people’s kids or make moronic laws named after dead babies, or take away constitutional protections ‘to protect the children’ or so ‘the terrorists don’t win’ why shouldn’t the government jump at that. They don’t have to claim more powers for themselves if people are actually asking them to take it. Hell, when the government knows they already having the backing of some people when they do this crap how can they not jump at the chance?

    People are just too stupid to realize that the government they inflict on other people now will someday be turned on them, when one of their bad habits falls out of favor.

    And anybody who thinks that these kids would be better off with the state knows absolutely nothing about the overcrowded, under-manned, under funded, massive cluster fuck that is the foster care system.

    Of course, if they are going to force unhealthy parents to give up their kids, I guess they can just force athletic ones to raise them. It is, after all, for the children.

  7. #7 |  Mattocracy | 

    “Right, which is why we execute people for jay walking now.”

    But we do arrest grandma’s for buying too much pseudoephedrine. Ya know, for the children.

    http://reason.com/blog/2009/09/28/hoosier-grandmother-arrested-f

    I get where you’re coming from. A kid’s lifestyle is largely influenced by their parents. Allowing your kids to get obese is shitty parenting and that kid has done nothing to deserve it. But an obese child doesn’t justify the inevitable abuse of authority a government agency will engage in.

    I don’t understand why you’re dismissing the inevitability of government over reach here. This is a legitimate concern given the horrible track record our government has with overstepping it’s bounds when trying to help or protect us.

  8. #8 |  David M. Nieporent | 

    “Public health academics are now seriously suggesting that the government take obese children away from their parents. I’m not sure there’s really much debate to be had here.”

    Well, there’s one thing to debate: what to call these people. Please don’t buy into their misappropriation of the term “public health,” when what they mean is private health.

  9. #9 |  JThompson | 

    Whether I find it horrifying or not depends on what the cutoff is. Are we talking clear cases of abuse/neglect? Like a preteen that weighs twice what an adult is supposed to weigh abuse/neglect?

    Or are we talking about kids that are slightly above what the ridiculous BMI scale says they should weigh?

    Those are drastically different situations.

    If we use the “creep” excuse to never make endangerment and neglect laws there wouldn’t BE any endangerment or neglect laws. The answer isn’t “Less laws!”. The answer is adding laws that are pointed at the people enforcing the other laws, and strictly enforcing them.

  10. #10 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    B,

    For me, it’s a matter of timing. If we weren’t in the middle of a hysterical panic over obesity, I would be more inclined to consider this. unfortunately, we ARE in the middle of such a panic, and I am inclined to be dubious of anything that seems to be connected.

    Let me see if I can put across my point of view here…

    We have supposedly sane people wringing their hands because, after a few millennia of human history in which famine was so common that it was one of the Four Horsemen, we have created a society in which (according to the alarmists, anyway) the most common dietary problem is gaining too much weight.

    If I believed it, and thought that the rest of humanity would follow suit, I’d be dancing in the streets.

  11. #11 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    If parents refuse to acknowledge the problem, then yes. But, bluntly, most cases can be solved with educating the parents, and if necessary getting a little help to the parents to allow them to buy more healthy food.

    Of course you need to take things on a case by case basis – if a kid’s BMI is simply slightly high, then the appropriate action is giving the parents a leaflet on child nutrition. It’s cheap and surprisingly effective.

  12. #12 |  Marty | 

    it’d be interesting what would happen if corn subsidies stopped and how that changed the food market- people keep advocating for the govt to fix obesity, but some of the policies they push cause obesity.

  13. #13 |  Marty | 

    another interesting tidbit is that a high percentage of obese people have been sexually molested at a young age- they become obese to keep people from touching them. at least this is what a local sex abuse counselor told me…

  14. #14 |  Steve Verdon | 

    John Jenkins,

    @Steve Verdon: Cherry-picking the most extreme examples to make your case is all well and good, and it might support medical intervention in extreme cases, but that doesn’t support the general case, nor does it say anything about line drawing.

    Cherry picking? Nobody here is talking about taking all obese children from their families. The discussion (here) is on those kids who are extremely obese. So obese their health is seriously at risk.

    Maybe there is a slippery slope here, but right now that is not what is happening. The cases where this has happened are the extreme examples. So no cherry picking.

    No one is denying empirical evidence….

    Yes they were. See Jerri Lynn Ward’s comments as well as those by Mattocracy and Highway (comments #s 17, 31 and 33).

    In High School I was 6’2″ tall and 230# and the BMI tables say I was obese.

    Nobody is suggesting using just the BMI tables. The cases where intervention and removal has happened is where not only were the kids fat according to BMI but by any other rational standard. When a 12 year old has issues with sleep apnea or trouble breathing it is more than just looking at the BMI.

    ….but should I have been taken from my parents because some tedious government functionary thought my BMI should be lower?

    That was stupid. Nobody has made any such recommendation. Knocking down a strawman is fun, but serves little purpose.

    Mattocracy,

    I don’t understand why you’re dismissing the inevitability of government over reach here.

    Because the government doesn’t always over reach. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. If your argument is

    JThompson,

    Whether I find it horrifying or not depends on what the cutoff is. Are we talking clear cases of abuse/neglect? Like a preteen that weighs twice what an adult is supposed to weigh abuse/neglect?

    Yes, we are talking about 12 year olds that weigh 400 pounds and 14 year olds who weigh 555 pounds (he is approaching 3x even for some of the bigger adults).

    We aren’t talking about a kid who is a bit over-weight. We aren’t talking about a kid who is even obese. We are talking about the extreme cases where if things continue the life of the child is in serious jeopardy.

    And removal, I think, is too extreme. An intervention is almost surely required, but one where the family is left intact would be the best course. I don’t think many are defending removal except maybe in the most extreme of extreme cases.

    C. S. P. Schofield,

    For me, it’s a matter of timing. If we weren’t in the middle of a hysterical panic over obesity, I would be more inclined to consider this. unfortunately, we ARE in the middle of such a panic, and I am inclined to be dubious of anything that seems to be connected.

    While I agree the hyperventilating over obesity is nauseating, pointing to a 400 pound 12 year old who is developing a host of weight related health issues (sleep apnea, diabetes, cholesterol problems, etc.) is not hysterical panic. If you found a loved one ballooning up to 3x or 4x a their normal weight and expressed concern and I said, “Stop being a hysterical twit,” you’d be right to consider me a jerk.

    The problem here isn’t just simply obesity.

  15. #15 |  theotherjimmyolson | 

    Mattocracy, I find your assertions incredible and without merit.If you can’t respond to and refute the phrase, “that’s why we execute Jay walkers now” you have nothing of value to add.

  16. #16 |  Zeb | 

    Kids don’t end up weighing 400 lbs just because of what their parents feed them. If a child is morbidly obese, there is some other problem besides diet.

  17. #17 |  Highway | 

    Steve, I take exception to your continued misrepresentation of my argument. I have *not* denied any empirical evidence. See my comment at #48. Unless you are hereby asserting that every child would definitely lose weight in every situation of intervention, and I don’t see how that can be known.

  18. #18 |  John Jenkins | 

    @Steve Verdon: If you admit to the possibility of the slippery slope, then when I present a condition that’s along that slope, how is it a straw man or stupid? Now we’re line drawing. Okay, so 30 BMI isn’t your line. Where is it? Who decides? How do we evaluate the determination? I reject the assertion that these are stupid question or that the slippery slope is a straw man argument (or that any point along the slope is a straw man, in the context of that argument).

    You blithely assert that the government won’t overreach here, and your argument for that is that government doesn’t always overreach. Suppose we grant that to be true (I am not sure I would, I think government always expands to the limits it is allowed, like any power would), we have know of a lot of instances where the government does overreach (see, e.g., drug interdiction efforts, eminent domain abuse the child sexual abuse hysteria of the 1990’s, which was entirely fabricated in many instances, police overreach in eliciting false confessions, etc.), which share one of two attributes with this policy (the aforementioned “for the children” and impact on the poor and minorities). So, the question is what differentiates this from other cases where the government does overreach, and I don’t think you’ve addressed that (one possibility is diagnostic criteria, but I think that feeds back into my question regarding the existing apparatus of child protective services, and the question of who makes these determinations).

    You want to be breezy and say of course this is a good idea, but not actually deal with the issues presented by it, which I find troubling (and that’s ignoring the weak ad hominems to which you’ve repeatedly resorted above).

  19. #19 |  TFG | 

    Dr. David Katz obviously had parents who turned him into a tyrannical prick.

    He should have been taken away by the State as a youth which would have prevented this terrible outcome.

  20. #20 |  Vlad | 

    Okay, so 30 BMI isn’t your line. Where is it? Who decides? How do we evaluate the determination?

    Well, let’s look at the eight-year-old girl who was 550 pounds. The video didn’t say how tall she was, but average height for an eight-year-old girl is about 45 inches. Plug that height and weight into a BMI calculator and you get a figure of 190. I think pretty much everybody would agree that a little kid with a BMI of 190 (and a history of respiratory distress) is in significant danger.

    How about a threshold of a BMI of 100? That’s the range you’d have for someone who’s five feet tall and a little over 500 pounds, or four feet tall and about 325, or three feet tall and 185. Is there anyone here who wouldn’t be seriously concerned about a twelve-year-old girl who weighed 500 pounds, or a nine-year-old boy who weighed 325, or a four-year-old who weighed 185 (i.e. as much as a full-grown man)?

  21. #21 |  Vlad | 

    Just for reference, a BMI of 100 is more than triple the level typically described as “obese”.

  22. #22 |  supercat | 

    Allowing parents to do whatever they want to their kids, without limitation, would result in a certain amount of unfortunate mischief, but it would be limited by the fact that many if not most people with children value the well-being and success of their children more than anything else in their lives. The offspring of those who value and care for their children will thrive and take over the world, while the families of those who do not will wither away.

    Allowing government authorities the authority to inject themselves into any families, even those where such intervention would be the only way to prevent serious mischief, creates a very real danger that government authorities will themselves cause harm far beyond anything that would occur from individual parents having their way with their own children.

    Sometimes it may seem cruel and heartless to allow wrongs to go unchecked, but eagerly trying to solve problems one sees without regard for what problems one may create, is the act of a self-righteous person, not a righteous one.

  23. #23 |  Dr. T | 

    The Slippery Slope Is Real:

    We already have a situation where private physicians and local governments (schools) spent two decades redrawing diagnostic lines and classifying more children as diseased. That situation is Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Two generations ago, the prevalence of those conditions combined was under 1%. Current statistics are that 10% of children have been diagnosed with ADD or ADH. Three-fourths of those children are boys, and nearly all the children receive amphetamine-like drugs that supposedly focus their attention. Does anyone believe that we truly had a 10-fold increase in ADD/ADHD in just 40 years? Does anyone believe that in the 1970s we failed to diagnose 9 of 10 children with ADD/ADHD? The schools want passive students. Greedy physicians are happy to classify bored, fidgety kids as mentally ill children in need of continual drugging (and repeated revenue-generated office visits). We are harming 9% of our children due to bad government policies supported by incompetent or evil physicians.

    A parallel situation easily could arise with obesity. Federal government agencies have twice changed the definition of obesity (by switching from weight tables to BMI in the 1980s and changing the BMI cutoffs in the late 1990s). Each change had no scientific basis and put more people into the obese category. If childhood obesity triggered government interventions, then the leeches would emerge: nutritionists, diet counselors, psychologists, child protection workers, pediatricians and family practitioners, etc. would feed off the fat of the kids and would exert continuous pressure to broaden definitions and add more “nutritionally-abnormal” kids to the list of those needing government-mandated and government-funded interventions. Anyone who believes that government interventions would be limited to cases where bad parents have risked the life of their child by inducing morbid obesity is either a fool or a potential leech.

  24. #24 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    Funny how this entire comment thread is synopsized in the last line of Radley’s post.

  25. #25 |  Mattocracy | 

    @ theotherjimmyolson,

    I think I refuted the execution of jaywalkers pretty well personally. We may not execute jaywalkers, but we do a lot of draconian shit in the guise of helping or stopping some scurge.

    And my assertions are without merit? Guess you don’t read this site very often. The government always over steps it’s limitations with everything and hurts a lot of innocent people in the process.

  26. #26 |  Mattocracy | 

    I can understanding stepping in to protect a child from physical abuse. We have a natural right not to be physically accosted, and if we are, to have our abuser held accountable. Same thing with sexual assault at any age.

    But I can’t hold someone else accountable for my weight as an adult. Extending that idea to a child and their parents is a very dangerous and slippery slope. Obesity isn’t forced onto people. Unless it’s a response to some other trauma. In which case, you hold people accountable for that, but not the weight.

    If you argue neglect on the part of the parent, where does it stop? How about that kid you got killed and chopped up on his way home in NYC. Are you gonna charge his parents with neglect for letting him walk home alone?

    Some of you might scoff and say “no, that ridiculous.” But some people won’t. And those people are trying to concur the next great plague on man kind for they own personal gain.

    I stand by my comments. There is always collateral damage involving innocent people when government gets involved in these kinds of things. All. Ways. I don’t it’s worth it, even if a kid is several hundred pounds overweight.

  27. #27 |  random_guy | 

    Actually I think a community saving children from criminally negligent parents is one of the few legitimate uses of government.

    Where do we draw the line?
    1) The child must have no diagnosed medical issues regarding their weight (obviously a child with legitimate medical reasons for obesity would not benefit for simply having different parents)
    2) If the child weighs twice the mean for their height and sex, using national statistics, then Child Protective Services begins visitation and counseling.
    3) If the child weighs three times the mean for their height and sex, they are removed from the general care of the parents who would still be allowed contact and visitation.
    4) If the child returns to a safe weight (less than 2X the mean) and the parents demonstrate a better understanding of nutrition and supervising the child’s diet, custody is returned. CSP will continue monitoring the child’s weight and living conditions for a year to see if there is a return to the old habits.

    I don’t think any of the above is unreasonable, no one in their right mind can maintain that a healthy child should weight twice as much as someone their own height and sex. Age would be a poor metric because height among kids can vary so greatly.

    Yeah I understand there is potential for government abuse, just like everything else. You either live in a society that lets idiots slowly kill or cripple their children, or you as a citizen manage the government institutions designed to stop that. There are risks associated with either choice, I accept the one that doesn’t treat children like chattel.

  28. #28 |  Bill | 

    So many issues here it’s hard to decide where to begin. First, many of those advocating state intervention seem to have more faith in medical science as an indicator for when state action is appropriate. Remember that real science is not set in stone. A cause for overweight that may not be apparent today could be discovered tomorrow (see Radley’s posts on Shaken Baby Syndrome to see what happens when changing science is used to establish fixed legal outcomes).

    Second, so many factors enter into one’s weight that even for children, parents may not be the overriding factor, and state intervention can easily make matters worse. Bear in mind that peoples’ well being is not determined solely by a number on a scale, so even if a child is taken from his or her home and their weight moves closer to someone’s ideal, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is better off.

    Even though we’re focusing on overweight kids, consider the eating issues of anorexics or bulemics. Do those who end up dying from the effects of those ailments only succumb to them because the government failed to rescue them from their parents?

    The law is a blunt instrument, and families and childrens’ health are delicate, complicated things.

  29. #29 |  BoogaFrito | 

    Right, which is why we execute people for jay walking now.

    Exactly. Until the jaywalking executions commence, there will be no valid complaints about government mission creep.

  30. #30 |  Chris in AL | 

    You know, as long as we are talking about taking people (in this case kids) from their homes and putting them in the system because they have greater health risks in their homes…

    This study shows that black men live longer in prison and are half as likely to die at any given time if they are in prison rather than out. So the inequitable convictions and sentences of black men is not only not racist, it is for their own good. And clearly, since it is the government’s job to make everybody safer, and black men are safer in prison…

    http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/07/15/black-men-survive-longer-in-prison-than-out-study-finds/?test=latestnews

    /yeah, its Fox.

  31. #31 |  CyniCAl | 

    #77 | random_guy — “Yeah I understand there is potential for government abuse, just like everything else. You either live in a society that lets idiots slowly kill or cripple their children, or you as a citizen manage the government institutions designed to stop that. There are risks associated with either choice, I accept the one that doesn’t treat children like chattel.”

    Much better to treat parents as chattel. Especially innocent parents.

  32. #32 |  Deoxy | 

    Based on the things I have personally seen regarding Child Services, I would only CONSIDER reporting something about a child to Child Services if I actually thought their life was in danger. And I’d have to think about it.

    Yes, that is completely serious. The system is completely and utterly broken. Only a very few lucky individuals manage to make it out of the system without major abuses of some kind (or several kinds).

    400 pound 8YO? well, how tall is the kid… ok, it’s life-threatening, but not immediately so. Seems to have turned out well (so far) for that kid – lucky.

  33. #33 |  Steve Verdon | 

    John Jenkins

    @Steve Verdon: If you admit to the possibility of the slippery slope, then when I present a condition that’s along that slope, how is it a straw man or stupid?

    It is a strawman because nobody anywhere has ever advocated taking an athletic person who is the exception to the BMI as a measure of health away from their family. It is just stupid. If you, as a teen were muscular due to playing sports and in good physical condition and your BMI was indicating you are “obese” then the BMI is wrong. BMI is NOT being suggested as the only measure here.

    Get your facts straight first before wading in. It is a host of medical assessments, but most of us could probably make the same call. These kids are giant jiggling masses of fat, not muscular football players or wrestlers or the likes.

    Okay, so 30 BMI isn’t your line. Where is it?

    Again, it isn’t just the BMI. But consider Vlad’s post where he suggests a BMI of 100. You indicated that in high school you were 6’2″, to have a BMI of 100 you’d have to clock in a whopping 779 pounds. My guess is you’d have trouble getting up, you couldn’t tie your shoes, Hell you probably couldn’t see your feet. You’d probably be short of breath just after standing up. You’d be a freakish sight. With a BMI of 150 you’d weight over half a ton. My guess is you’d be totally bed ridden. Your heart would probably have issue moving blood through your body. You’d probably stink since cleaning you would be nearly impossible. In short you’d be a giant blob of fat, and we wouldn’t be far off the mark calling you Jenkins the Hutt. A BMI of 190 means you’d be close to 1,500 pounds. My guess is that with a BMI that high you’d never reach your current age.

    It isn’t just, calculate the BMI, oh…you’re obese, take the kid away. It would be more along the lines of the kid is morbidly obese, extremely so. Do medical tests. See if there is a medical reason for the extreme weight. If not, and it is poor parenting and the child’s health is in serious jeopardy, then help the family deal with the problem, and no, don’t take the kid unless the parents are completely unwilling to admit there is a problem.

    You want to be breezy and say of course this is a good idea, but not actually deal with the issues presented by it, which I find troubling (and that’s ignoring the weak ad hominems to which you’ve repeatedly resorted above).

    Because, your example was stupid in the extreme. You had a BMI of 30, Vlad has pointed out we are talking about people with BMIs in the three digit range. You weren’t even close to that limit, and if you were muscular and big for your age in part due to playing sports then you’d never even show up on the radar of this kind of a problem.

    Mattocracy,

    Are kids who have a BMI of 100+ being forced? No maybe not, but at the same time it isn’t like they have the same choices as an adult. They can’t demand that their parents provide them with better/healthier food. Help them be active and put them in sports or the like. This is one of those grey areas that many libertarians just blithely say, “Oh, no overt force is involved so therefore no problem.” But the notion that these children have the same ability to choose as an adult is also rather dubious, IMO. An adult with a BMI of 150 does have the ability to make different choices. A child on the other hand often does not…because the parents have been given the power to make those choices.

    When a child has a BMI of 100+ the parent has made very, very poor choices (unless there is a medical condition that results in such extreme weight).

    Now, the first article Radley links to by Dr. Katz is stupid. Giving your kid a soda periodically is not abuse or neglect. Dr. Katz should be professionally bitch slapped for that one, IMO. For example, my son is in amazing physical condition, and every now and then likes a sprite. Typically he goes with orange juice, pineapple juice, water, or 2% milk. Given his overall health and physique a sprite when we eat out or go to a movie is fine.

    Taking kids away who are obese is also stupid and likely to cause more harm than good. Looking at the 0.001% (or whatever miniscule portion or) the child population that has a BMI over 100 is something else altogether. Especially considering that these are children who do not have the same set of choices adults have because you, and I and the rest of society lets parents make many of those choices.

    Deoxy,

    400 pound 8YO? well, how tall is the kid… ok, it’s life-threatening, but not immediately so. Seems to have turned out well (so far) for that kid – lucky.

    To have a BMI of 50 at that weight the person would have to be 75 inches tall (6’3″), a damn tall 8 year old. At that height there would have to be other serious medical issues and taking the kid away would almost surely not help.

  34. #34 |  JOR | 

    “Much better to treat parents as chattel.”

    Interfering in the raising of children is a lot of things, but one thing it is not, is “treating parents like chattel” (to claim otherwise just is to claim that children are chattel).

    The state is just a bunch of people. They’re justified in doing whatever anyone else would be justified in doing. If there are cases where it’s justified to interfere in parenting (and unless you accept the claim that children are chattel, there are), then the state is justified in interfering (proportionately) – for the same reason anyone else would be.

    None of this is to say that the state is likely to use any precedent in favor of its free discretion wisely or justly. But that argument should be played from where it lies, instead of relying on premises that make children into property.

  35. #35 |  random_guy | 

    Thank you JOR,

    I can’t fathom how the idea that parents are free to do whatever they want to kids falls under the banner of “personal freedom” to some people. Children have rights, diminished though they may be, and I think not being killed by the people entrusted to your care is chief among them.

    This isn’t the 1700’s, medical science has advanced quite a bit in terms of what we know works and doesn’t. You can’t pray away pneumonia or cancer. Refusing a life saving surgery for a seven year old because mommy and daddy don’t believe in blood transfusions is fucking monstrous. And pretending that a 400lb eight year old does not need some kind of intervention on their behalf, is callous at best.

    How these issues are resolved within the very human limitations of government policy is an entirely different debate. The fact that lines need to be drawn is not an argument for the elimination of all lines. The idea that parents should have final say in every aspect of child’s life, up to and including killing them, is the moral stance of a slave owner. Not someone who believes in the rights and dignities of other human beings.