Should Children Be Protected?
Society has a certain amount of responsibility for children, and sometimes society’s responsibility overrides the rights of the child’s parents.
This is not a Q1 violation unless you believe that your parental rights are inalienable.
This is not a Q2 violation unless you object to others reasoning as you do about when you should lose parental rights.
It is generally agreed that children, as particularly vulnerable members of society, are due a certain amount of protection that is not offered to adults. It is also generally agreed that parents have a certain amount of freedom in how they raise their children. The question is precisely where do these two concerns come into conflict (assume that they ever do)?
There are four main areas where conflict between social and parental responsibility may occur: physical health, mental health, discipline, and abuse. In all of these, there are many questions that must be answered in terms of what parental behavior should be grounds of removing a child from a household. While considering them, it is important to keep Q2 well in mind.
It is generally agreed that parents should provide their children with the necessities of life — food, shelter, and clothing — to the best of their ability. If parents are not able to provide these basic necessities, you might argue that the parent deserves to lose custody of the child. But how much of a failing in any of these categories is sufficient for removing the child? What if the parents’ ability to provide these necessities is impaired through no fault of their own? Should more leniency be given those who don’t provide because they can’t provide than to those who don’t provide but could? What if a parent isn’t earning as much as she can and accepts a less affluent lifestyle because she would rather have more time to spend with her child?
It is generally agreed that parents should provide their children with an amount of mental stability, but this is a very difficult quantity to measure. To what extent should yelling at, ridiculing, or teasing a child be tolerated (if it is to be tolerated at all)? How "dysfunctional" can a home be before children should be removed? Is lack of what society considers proper role models sufficient reason for removing a child? Is there anything inherently wrong with letting a child read scary stories, watch R-rated movies, or play violent video games?
Some people consider certain religious beliefs to be too stressful for children. Is it abusive to tell a child that if they are bad they will burn in Hell? Is it abusive to tell a child that there is no God?
Some people believe in corporal punishment and some do not. Should the law allow spanking? If not, then is spanking a form of abuse serious enough for a parent to lose custody?
What kinds of punishment are allowable? Lengthy "time out"? Going to bed without dinner? Sitting in a corner? Sitting in a box? The "silent treatment?" Public humiliation?
It is agreed that children should not be abused, but the definition of "abuse" is not always clear cut. Verbal, physical, and mental abuse are all in need of definition, and there is even disagreement on what constitutes sexual abuse (allowing a child to sleep in its parents’ bed, casual nudity at home, bringing a child to a topless beach, etc.).
You are encouraged to leave your answers to the questions posed in this post in the comments section. This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at LuLu.com and Amazon.com. See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.