Thursday, July 11, 2002

I really don't agree with these criminal trials of parents just because of a lapse in child care judgment that resulted in a tragic accident. They suffer enough by having to live with the events. In Silicon Valley, a manslaughter trial is just beginning for a father who left his baby in a car. He faces four years if convicted. He could have avoid jail time with a plea bargain. The story is here.

Previously, a mother here was sentenced to four years in jail because she left her baby in the care of a boyfriend who scalded the baby with a hot bath, and because she delayed getting medical care while she looked for an emergency room that would not turn them into the police. The story is here.

I object because (1) I don't believe the parental behavior is criminal, (2) I think that the prosecutions are cruel, and (3) state interventions into family situations like this almost invariably make the situation worse for all parties involved.

The people who write these laws and prosecute these cases have one main purpose. They want to set a public example so that everyone will be in fear of the authorities in their child-rearing practices. They want social workers from Child Protective Services to be able to knock on a family door, and have the parents so totally intimidated that they will do whatever the social worker says. Well, I don't agree with it.

I also object to these prosecutions because of the way that they breed fear, distrust, and privacy invasions in our society.

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