Could this be happening here, in your backyard? Parent! Beware! Be informed about state and federal school programs (Don’t ask Matt Miller, though!) Schools Infringing on Parents’ Rights, and Doing It Secretly
In an article published in Zenit by Rebecca Oas, PhD (Washington, D.C., April18, 2012),
she reports that in 2010, an article appeared in the UK newspaper The Telegraph reacting to a proposal to cut government funding for a certain beverage in schools. The author made the argument that the drink might be “doing more harm than good” and cited “negative side effects,” while noting that his viewpoint was heard relatively rarely in comparison to the large industry which vigorously promoted its product through advertising and with the support of government subsidies. The substance in question was milk, which would seem on the surface to be more innocuous than those fearsome beverages that have also come under fire for being available in schools in recent years, soft drinks.
While the role of government in regulating access to these beverages in schools has varied from place to place, it can’t be disputed that a key factor influencing school policies is the input of parents.
A 2005 survey found that parents of adolescents had strong opinions regarding nutrition in schools, and urged health professionals in school settings to work with parents in promoting good nutrition in schools. While it may not be practical or even possible for a parent to monitor everything a child consumes while at school, this fact reflects only that substances like soft drinks are widely available, and not subject to restrictions under the law. There’s no excuse for parents are not expressly prohibited from knowing their children’s dietary habits by not being aware of what goes on in schools, neither the school or the government has any right to prohibit a parent’s demand for information.
But here’s the real shocker: Dr Oas writes, “However, while parents’ input may be welcomed with regard to students’ intake of sugar, substances available only by prescription are being distributed to students at school-based clinics without their parents’ knowledge or consent. Recent reports from both the US and the UK reveal that students are receiving oral and implanted contraceptives while on school property, through government-funded initiatives.”
A story aired on National Public Radio in March, discussing a provision of the new health care law that increases funding for school-based health centers, which exist to treat sick students, but which are also widely used to distribute condoms and oral contraceptives to students. The story focused on one such clinic located in California, where, according to state law, students older than 12 years of age can legally obtain prescribed contraceptives without their parents’ knowledge or permission. [Editor’s Note: 21 states explicitly allow minors to give consent to contraceptive services, meaning that parental consent, and consequently, knowledge, is not required.] This reflects an international trend. [For school implanation of contraceptives, please see the entire article.] Just as in the US, the contraception initiative in the UK was supported by a government effort to reduce teenage pregnancy.
These published news stories point to another key issue: the duties of parents and the larger society toward children, including older minors still under their parents’ legal guardianship.
It is worthwhile to note that the controversy regarding milk distribution in schools was in reference to children five and under, and the distribution of contraceptives is occurring among minors 13 and older. Clearly, society recognizes that personal responsibility increases as a child becomes more capable of making his or her own decisions, as evidenced by the fact that minors can be held liable for criminal activity. In the US, a parent or guardian must not only give consent, but must physically accompany a minor under 17 who wishes to go to a movie with a “Restricted” rating. It would seem that government regulations are frequently willing to defer to the wishes of parents with regard to the health and well-being of their children – except where their reproductive capability is concerned.
Nevertheless, parents who entrust their children to educational institutions rightly have concerns regarding their children’s exposure and access to many things on school grounds, from substances such as soft drinks or contraceptive pills to controversial curricula, to the influence of questionable teachers. That this access frequently occurs without the parents’ knowledge and is disturbing to many informed parents, but that such information is deliberately being kept from them constitutes a dangerous shift in the role of the parent and the local, state, and federal institutions making decisions relating to children in schools “in safeguarding the well-being of those who are not yet legally adults.”
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