|Week of: |
October 15, 2000
|A Land of Opportunity For All Races
by: F.R. Duplantier
Family policy in America is based on the "long-standing conviction on the part of educators, psychologists, and social service professionals that parents really should not be too heavily engaged in the child-rearing process, but rather should abandon it to professionals," declares Dana Mack of the Institute for American Values. "For almost a century now," she observes, "child-rearing 'experts' have challenged the competence of parents and pushed for ever greater institutionalization of child-rearing."
In the newly released paperback version of her 1997 book, The Assault on Parenthood, Mack points out that "even some of the most compassionate scholarly work on the crisis of childhood . . . betrays the fallacious assumption that in the modern world it is up to institutions, and not up to parents, to rear children. These books enjoin government to relieve parents of their child-rearing obligations, rather than to support them in these obligations. In advocating more nursery school, more comprehensive schooling, longer school days, broader school services, more organized children's activities, more institutional child care, more therapeutic intervention, and a broader social welfare net," she concludes, "they reinforce a predilection toward a child-rearing by professionals that parents viscerally resent. . . ."
Mack insists that "families are better equipped to set the tone for child-friendly social policies than government and the many extrafamilial institutions that present themselves as 'advocates' of families and children. There is no ignoring the fact that there are fewer conscientious parents than there once were," she concedes. "But, considering the strains under which family life has been placed, there turn out to be surprisingly few parents who would not rightfully deserve a chance to remake their children's childhood in the image of a richer family life and a more pervasive parental influence."
Mack recommends "child-care credits for at-home parents, not only as an acknowledgment of the social benefits of engaged parenting, but as an impetus to more parental engagement." Convinced that American parents need "work relief" as well as tax relief, she recommends tax incentives to encourage "family-friendly work styles" such as "home-based and flex- time work policies." Mack would further re-empower parents with education reforms, putting the emphasis back on academic achievement and drastically reducing the number of "social programs."
Mack also advocates child welfare reform. "About 700,000 families each year are put through wrenching and unnecessary child welfare investigations," she reports. "Hundreds of thousands of parents each year are falsely or arbitrarily convicted of meaningless offenses and entered in state child abuse registries, their reputations ruined, and their confidence in themselves as parents shattered. Thousands of innocent parents and children each year are subjected to quack psychological treatments and evaluation. Children are routinely strip-searched, homes invaded without legal warrant." Mack recommends "reducing Child Protective Services worker immunities to legal challenges, reviewing CPS therapeutic practices, restoring liability for bogus reporting, rejecting anonymous reports of child abuse and neglect, ending report solicitation in the broadcasting and print media, and conforming investigative and court procedures in child welfare cases to the due process standards of the criminal justice system."
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