SACRAMENTO, Calif. In recent years, the state legislature has spoon-fed California parents a steady diet of "state-mandated parenting." Supported by the notorious 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appealsthe same court that declared the Pledge of Allegiance "unconstitutional"mom and dad are being micromanaged and incrementally stripped of their rights.
On the one hand an emerging "nanny government" is attempting to impose more and more uniform rules for parenting. On the other hand, the state is increasingly undermining parents' ability to protect and guide their children safely to adulthood. he trap is being set, and kids are caught in the middle.
Mountains of research have proven that the traditional family is the best environment for raising children. The wisdom of this design is that it provides a mother and a father intimately observing the daily behavior and personality of a child. This close family relationship is what makes parentsnot legislatorsuniquely qualified to raise their children.
The spanking ban is a classic example of parenting by rule of law. In January, state Sen. Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View, proposed a statewide ban on spanking children under 4 years old. Offending parents could be punished by one year in prison and/or a $1,000 fine.
While we all agree that government should establish and enforce laws against child abuse and neglect, nearly all parents think that a swat on the "seat of learning" is acceptable. If passed, children would be unnecessarily subjected to a traumatic interrogation, search and removal from their homes.
If our legislators think that sending parents to jail and forcing children into foster care for a spanking is a reasonable response, then perhaps those same legislators would benefit from a swat on their fanniesas an appropriate means of gaining their attention and keeping them from further harm to themselves or others.
Legislators are also considering Assembly Bill 16, a "mandatory" human papillomavirus vaccine or HPV for minor girls entering middle school. While the bill is well-intentioned, it could trample on parents' rights. While making the vaccine available for health considerations is a good idea, making it mandatory is not.
As with other vaccines, parents can "opt out" for reasons of belief. The lack of awareness of this option, however, and the use of the word "mandatory" in the legislation would discourage such. Unlike the measles, HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. An "opting in" measure is a better plan in that it allows each parent to make the best choice. The government is not equipped to make decisions about what kinds of drugs parents allow in minor girls' bodies.
A generation of California children is at risk of becoming guinea pigs for legislators' pet projects and personal ideologies. The state is increasingly using the force of law to impose special-interest values through public schools and other public institutions. This has the effect of eroding traditional, time-honored models for child-rearing. When tradition is undercut, it is replaced by untested, potentially dangerous "social engineering."
Two years ago, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that "parents have no constitutional right ... to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide sexual, or otherwise, when and as the school determines that it is appropriate to do …. Parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools." (Fields v. Palmdale)
Last year, the state Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 1437, a bill that would have transformed California public schools into "social-engineering" laboratories for homosexual indoctrination. The legislation called for a revision of all K-12 textbooks to reflect positively on homosexual behaviors. Anyone who disagreed with the radical pro-homosexual agenda, including parents and people of faith, would have been barred by law from contributing to discussions of homosexual behaviors.
The author of SB 1437, Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, unabashedly admitted in a committee hearing that her bill was "social engineering." Thankfully, after being inundated with calls from concerned parents and grandparents, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 1437.
The court's decision and the Legislature's disdain for parents and their values, however, clearly highlight how government has overstepped its proper role and is actively interfering with parents' rights.
A wall of separation
Sadly, California state legislators have created a legal wall of separation between parents and children. Instead of interference, the state should be taking steps to support familiesreinforcing traditional marriage and allowing parents to make choices that reflect the morals and values of their homes.
The popular misconception that the government knows better than mom and dad has left children vulnerable. The state and courts are not a substitute for parents' judgment and intimate knowledge of their children.
Abby Llewellyn Bailes is a public policy specialist for the California Family Council.