The "Emancipated" Child
By: William Norman Grigg
June 3, 2002
Parents in every country can testify that trying to restrain the hormonal impulses of teenagers can be like trying to lasso a locomotive. But special challenges confront traditionalist parents in Holland.
Graphic pornography is peddled openly in Dutch supermarkets and newsstands; graphic nudity is a staple of prime-time television. Prostitution and homosexual “marriage” are legal in Holland, and hard narcotics are available in so-called coffee houses. However, the most formidable obstacle for Dutch parents seeking to guide their teenagers through the minefield of Dutch popular culture is the central government’s “Council for the Protection of Children” (CPC).
The April 13th New York Times noted that Dutch parents trying to prevent a teenager from becoming promiscuous “can overrule their child’s wishes only if they persuade the Council for the Protection of Children that they are acting in the child’s best interest.”
In the Netherlands, the official age of consent for sexual activity is 16. But as the Holland Sentinel has reported, Holland’s age-of-consent law “permits sex between an adult and a young person between 12 and 16 if the young person consents. Prosecutions for coercive sex may be sought by the young person or the youth’s parents.” But under Dutch law, parents have no clearly defined power to prevent or terminate “consensual” sexual relations between a 12-year-old child and an adult — much to the delight of that nation’s homosexual lobby.
Not surprisingly, the Dutch Association for the Integration of Homosexuality played a key role in lowering that nation’s age of consent. A brochure produced by the group explains: “In the ‘shady’ area between 12 and 16 sexual contacts are punishable only when a complaint is lodged.... [O]nly the child itself [sic], his or her parents and the Council for the Protection of Children may bring in charges.”
But what if the child — say, a 12-year-old boy lured into a homosexual relationship — doesn’t want to end the “relationship”? The brochure points out that “the Council assumes authority in case the situation within the family has got out of hand or when children and parents see no way of coping with the situation. Usually the Council will first try and find a solution with the help of social workers and therapists. Should the Council fail to see any feasible solutions, it may decide to contact the Justice Department.” So while it is possible to prosecute Dutch adults who seduce children, prosecution is apparently the final option.
Under Dutch law, concludes the pamphlet, “nobody is allowed to interfere” with adult-child homosexual contacts “as long as the situation is mutually agreeable, but should problems arise, then the sexual relation is certainly punishable.” In other words, it’s open season for Dutch homosexuals to prey upon 12-year-olds, as long as they’re careful.
Holland’s sexual “emancipation” model for youngsters has been cited by Judith Levine, author of the controversial new book Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex, as an enlightened alternative to America’s conventional moral standards. According to Levine, “the threat of pedophilia and molestation is exaggerated by adults, who want to deny young people the opportunity for positive sexual experiences.” She also insists: “The research shows us that in some minority of cases, young — even quite young — people can have positive [sexual] experience with an adult.” “America’s drive to protect kids from sex is protecting them from nothing,” insists Levine. “Instead, often it is harming them.”
With a foreword by former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders, Levine’s book has triggered an outpouring of protest by traditionalists and an equally effusive outpouring of praise from the academic establishment. Stephanie Dallam of the Leadership Council for Mental Health, Justice and the Media observes that the sexual revolution leaders and foot soldiers “view children as the next sexual frontier.”
What if those radicals had the means to define parental “interference” in the intimate affairs of children as criminally violating their “best interests,” as defined by the state? What if they had a legal weapon they could turn against parents discouraging their children from consuming pornography, or seeking sexual liaisons with adults? For advocates of the sexual “emancipation” of children, the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child — to which Holland was an early and enthusiastic signatory — may prove the legal equivalent of a daisy-cutter bomb.
Parents vs. Children?
Before the advent of the UN, it was understood that treaties were intended to regulate how sovereign nations interact, rather than alter the domestic institutions of a given nation. UN “human rights” treaties are designed to restructure the legal and political systems of signatory nations. The UN’s “children’s rights” treaty is even more radical since it claims power to regulate relationships within the home.
In an address to the 1997 Second World Congress on Family Law and the Rights of Children and Youth in San Francisco, East Timorese Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta explained that the Convention “challenges the dichotomy between the privacy of the family and the public domain of the State and its instrumentalities. The Convention disaggregates the rights of children from the rights of families and constitutes children as independent actors … with respect to both parents and with respect to the State.”
Simply put, the Convention fundamentally assumes that the state, not the parents, is the primary custodian of children. “The state is the custodian of the rights of children,” declared acting UNICEF director Dr. Richard Jolley at the 1995 UN Social Summit in Copenhagen. “The state is the guardian of the law. Who but the state can enforce the law and protect the rights of individuals, including children?” If the state is the primary protector of children, it follows that parents are the greatest and most constant threat to the well-being of the state’s children. This point was made forcefully in a presentation at the 2001 Special Session on Children at UN headquarters. During a video presentation at that session, a Salvadoran youngster declared: “Parents are the principal violators of our rights!”
Scattered throughout the Convention’s 54 articles are numerous claims of “rights” that can be used to undermine duly exercised parental authority. Article 13, for example, asserts: “The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds....” The text states that the “rights” mentioned in this article “may be subject to certain restrictions … as are provided by law” for “the protection of national security or of public order … or of public health or morals.”
But what of parents wishing, for instance, to regulate a child’s consumption of movies, videos, Internet sites, and other media? The text makes no provision for this parental role. Strictly applied, Article 13 of the Convention would permit a national government to censor a child’s access to “anti-government” websites, yet authorize action against a parent refusing to let a youngster download cyberporn.
Article 14 asserts that the child’s “freedom of thought, conscience and religion” must be recognized, which — as applied in the home — has troubling implications for parents desiring to pass their religious convictions on to their young (or, for that matter, for parents seeking to discourage involvement in the occult). Article 15 refers to a child’s right to “freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly” — freedoms that diligent parents concerned about the quality of a child’s friends and associates must occasionally infringe upon.
Parents who practice spanking and other forms of physical discipline run afoul of Article 19, which supposedly protects children from “all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse....” UNICEF’s Dr. Jolley, asked about whether the Convention forbids spanking, replied: “There are some people, I think, that want to maintain the right of being able to beat their children, which the Convention discourages.”
Following Britain’s ratification of the Convention, reported the January 28, 1995 issue of The Guardian of London, the UN’s “children’s rights” committee demanded that the British government “ban corporal punishment in private schools and … outlaw ‘chastisement’ of children at home.” Canada’s ratification of the Convention may similarly impact families living north of the border.
Attorney Gwen Landholt, national vice president of REAL Women of Canada, told THE NEW AMERICAN: “After we ratified the Convention, we learned that the UN treaty monitoring committee intended to interpret it in a way that would ban spanking. There is language in Section 43 of the Canadian Criminal Code recognizing that parents or teachers can use ‘reasonable’ physical punishment in disciplining children. But the treaty committee, in its report on Canada’s compliance with the treaty, has insisted that this language must be changed in order to comply with our ‘international obligations.’”
While the language in Canada’s Criminal Code remains intact, “the [central] government in Ottawa is trying to get rid of it, even though it’s not politically possible to do so through the legislature. So it has used a tax-funded group called the ‘Foundation for Children, Youth, and the Law’ to mount legal challenges to Section 43, claiming that it ‘discriminates against children.’” Although the pro-spanking language survived two separate legal challenges, “the issue is now going to the Supreme Court,” notes Mrs. Landholt, “and the language of the legal appeal is based entirely on the report issued by the UN committee monitoring our nation’s compliance with the children’s rights treaty.”
The Canadian anti-spanking movement’s legal challenge to Section 43 has been subsidized by the Court Challenges Program, a $4.4-million-a-year program directed by a board of radical “human rights” activists. One member of that board is Shelagh Day, who headed the “lesbian caucus” at the 1995 UN World Conference on Women in Beijing.
Mounting the legal challenge, the Foundation for Children, Youth, and the Law staged a successful campaign to lower the Canadian age of legal consent for homosexual acts to 14.
“These two campaigns are part of an effort to destroy the autonomy of the home and undermine parental authority,” notes REAL Women’s Landholt. “In their legal argumentation on behalf of banning spanking and lowering the age of consent, these radicals have used language and concepts taken directly from the children’s rights convention. And that same language has been found in decisions handed down by radical feminist judges.”
Radical activists in the U.S. legal system are eager to use the UN children’s rights Convention similarly. At the 1997 Congress on Family Law and the Rights of Children in San Francisco, a workshop dealing with “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Questioning Youth” examined ways to use the Convention to fight “homophobia” both in the classroom and the home.
One presenter at that session was Shannon Minter, a “transgendered” legal activist with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). Minter distributed an NCLR report entitled Protecting the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Questioning Youth: Resources for Youth and Youth Advocates. The report calls the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child “the single most important articulation of youth rights. As such, it can be a powerful educational and advocacy resource for [homosexual] youth and youth advocates.”
According to the NCLR, Article 28 of the Convention, which cites a “right to education,” mandates government action to suppress expression of “homophobic” sentiments in public school classrooms. Claiming that children have the right to enjoy “the highest attainable standard of health,” Article 24 can be employed to purge “homophobes” from the medical profession. The “privacy” right asserted under Article 16, the NCLR insists, requires that school counselors withhold from parents anything they might learn about their child’s sexual orientation or practices. Another NCLR report, Legal Challenges Facing Lesbian and Gay Youth, recounts how the organization used the “rights” outlined in the UN Convention to arrange the “divorce” of a lesbian teenager from her mother, and her 1992 adoption by a lesbian couple in San Francisco.
Liberty, Order, Family
Notes Dr. Allan Carlson of the Howard Center on the Family, “The Founders understood the family to be the social unit that reconciled liberty with order, that kept the individual’s interests in balance with the interests of community and posterity.” That the U.S. Constitution “gives no attention to the institutions of marriage and family” is not an oversight, continues Dr. Carlson. This omission was designed to protect these foundational institutions from central government encroachment. The Convention, by contrast, would make our central government the chief custodian — under UN supervision — of all American children.
As with all other UN “human rights” instruments, the Convention on the Rights of the Child is an outgrowth of Communist concepts of law and society. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels candidly endorsed the “abolition of the family” and issued this defiant rebuke to critics of the Communist conspiracy: “Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this charge we plead guilty.” Under Communism, the state exploits the supposedly emancipated children. It is tragically ironic that liberating children from their parents and from traditional morality will result, not in greater freedom, but in the loss of freedom. Emancipated children fortunate enough to live in a free society do not understand this, of course. They are too busy having “fun”! They do not realize how their uninhibited “choices” will ultimately destroy not only themselves but their civilization.
As intended, Communist efforts to end parental “exploitation” have contributed greatly to the ruin of scores of nations. Sexual predators determined to overcome the obstacle of parental authority are eagerly promoting similar efforts to “emancipate” children today. But whether the cultural subverter seeks perverted sex or unrestrained power, the result of “emancipating” children is the same: moral anarchy followed by the rise of the total state. Those seeking to abolish the family will find no better approach than that outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.