Tuesday, November 02, 2010

To say the least...

I want to discuss a legal matter I am most concerned about: children. There are many factors I find disturbing about this issue, but … let's say, sometimes I am ashamed to be an American. First, throughout history, we recognize the values Americans have upon children's rights; we read about service programs, people who contribute their time and money on making lives better for children, charities, poor kids smiling and being happy with their old but new toys during the holidays, we read about adoption successes and how policies on foster care are improving. We see organizations taking action on child molestation, ensuring zero-tolerance policies in schools, re-evaluating parental rights… and so on. America (I'll blame it all on the media but that is for some other time) is so fake, I can't stand it.

Recognizing is one thing, and to dissect the American legal system is another. We need to take a notice on whether the system is successive or not. In order to do this, we must be clear on what is the legal goal for children. The goal, to me, is to empower the children and have them being a part of legal decisions that involve them.

We have failed doing so. Failed miserably.

In the case of 1923 Meyer v. Nebraska, reputable that the Liberty Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment authorizes the parents as the primary caretakers of their children. In short, as parents, they have the full right to raise their children. Like I always say, responsibility also comes with individual rights. As a citizen, you are responsible for your rights. So basically, parents are responsible of their rights as caretakers. Unfortunately, there are parents who fail doing so. Also miserably.

Here goes! Congratulations, our justice system. You done us proud! You and them caretakers got something in common. Oh I bet it feels wonderful.

Children have the every right to be of no burden from starvation, violence, abandon, and other atrocious situations. If you think otherwise, you have no soul.

As much as I wish they could, not all children have parents. Many children who do have parents experience neglect and abuse. Now, when ANY kinds of abuse are evident, our system must be effective in providing them proper care and justified privileges. Must. Our system can't just give the parents a slap on the wrist and say, "If I catch you doing this one more time … consider this as a warning." Often times, the unthinkable happens after that one more time.

In many situations, more have done discussing the children's constitutional rights rather than actually initiating them.

Last spring when taking legal classes at Kaplan, I came across a pending case in Oklahoma (D.G. v Henry, 2008), which is one of many cases we face today. According to Children's Rights, a national movement for child rights, because of child welfare ineffectiveness, right now there are 10,000 of children in Oklahoma who are suffering. The state holds the highest rate of disadvantaged children. Also stated by the Children's Rights, orphaned children in Oklahoma "get dumped and left in overcrowded, understaffed, and profoundly unsafe shelters and group homes. Thousands of children have been bounced around to four, six, even dozens of foster homes during their time in state custody."

Not to give Oklahoma (my dear Okies, I still love you guys!) the bad rep considering it's not the only state who been found responsible for child neglect. Class actions against states concerning child welfare programs are happening everywhere, this shows how flawed our legal system is. The state level legislation must adhere the federal criteria when it comes to providing any kind of services for children. The federal government must take those legal actions more seriously.

I have seen authoritative figures saying they are denying the rights to children because to what extent can we trust that they are competent of decision-making? What? Oh! So you are going to leave them on the curb somewhere in that flat and hopeless Oklahoma, only for them to die? If they don't starve to death, many will grow up being the victims of YOUR society.

Gosh. Of course they are not competent of decision-making… they are only KIDS. Do you get it? Kids. Many have not yet understood that the top of the stove can burn your hand. Many have not yet developed cognitive skills, abstract thinking, and necessary survival tactics. Many have not yet learned how to multiply, or to tie their shoes. They are still fresh to the world. Do you really expect for them to … know their rights?

I strongly feel the decision-making competency holds no affliction as to whether the children should receive full legal rights or not. They must, period. They need people to protect them. With professional (and neutral) help, I assure you the children will be able to explain themselves, and of course, on their own behalf. Not only that, but by encouraging children to express themselves, we are also giving them a taste of what it takes to feel good. Also helps them have healthy relationships with others (and themselves, as well). You can never be too young to start doing some self-advocacy. Guide them onto the right path, which I believe is the best survival tactic (empowerment at its finest!).

Let those children feel proud by acknowledging them as people of worth.

Now, how far should we go to allow children to partake in legal cases, ones that will account for their fate? Yes, I know this proves a difficult legal challenge.

Oy. I could ramble all night long on this-- still so much more I want to say. Don't be surprised if I end up adding some more things to this post.

Best if I shut up now. In a nutshell: I am inspired to make a difference.