Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World ReviewMay 4, 1999 /18 Iyar 5759

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Tony Snow
Dr. Laura
Paul Greenberg
David Corn
Sam Schulman
Philip Weiss
Mort Zuckerman
Richard Chesnoff
Larry Elder
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Don Feder
Linda Chavez
Mona Charen
Thomas Sowell
Walter Williams
Ben Wattenberg


Holding parents responsible

(JWR) ---- (
OF ALL THE IRRATIONAL IDEAS that have been thrown around in the wake of the high school shootings in Littleton, Colorado, one of the most reckless is the proposal to hold parents legally responsible for what their children do.

Whether the particular parents of the particular young killers who committed this particular massacre had knowledge in advance that would make them criminally liable is something for a court of law to decide. What is at issue is whether parents in general should be held legally liable for their children's acts.

Responsibility and control go together. For decades now, our laws and our educational system have consistently undermined parental authority. Yet new legal responsibilities for parents are being proposed after parental control has been eroded.

Preschoolers are taught that their parents have no right to spank them. All sorts of propaganda programs in the schools -- from so-called "drug prevention" to "sex education" -- stress that each individual makes his or her own decisions, independently of parental or societal values.

Most people have no idea how pervasive and unremitting are the efforts to drive a wedge between children and their parents and to replace parental influence with the influence of teachers, counselors and even the children's similarly immature peers. Many of the books, movies, and other materials used in the public schools mock parents as old windbags who are behind the times. "Trust-building" exercises teach students to rely on their classmates.

Handing out condoms in school and giving girls abortions behind their parents' backs are just isolated manifestations of this underlying philosophy, which reaches far beyond sexual matters. Nor are these just idiosyncrasies of particular teachers or schools. There are nationwide networks -- some of them government-sponsored -- which have disseminated pre-packaged programs designed to wean school children away from the values with which they have been raised and mold them to the values of self-anointed agents of "change."

The materials used and the things said in these materials would simply have to be seen to be believed. I certainly would never have imagined such things before doing research for my book "Inside American Education." My assistant said she had trouble sleeping after seeing some of the movies shown to school children.

Invasions of family privacy with diary assignments and other intrusions are all part of the same mindset. So are groups like the so-called Children's Defense Fund, which seek legal powers to impose their notions of how children should be raised. Hillary Clinton's pious hokum that "it takes a village" to raise a child is more of the same.

What all these efforts have in common, aside from an arrogant presumption of superiority, is a drive for power without responsibility. They don't even take responsibility for their own activities, which are hidden, denied or camouflaged. Above all, they are not prepared to be held accountable for the consequences of their playing with children's minds.

Columbine High School was in the news long before the recent tragic shootings there. It was featured in a "20/20" broadcast about "death education" back in 1991. This macabre subject is one of the endless procession of brainwashing programs that are taking up time sorely needed for academic work in schools across the country. One of the Columbine students who is now grown blames the course's morbid preoccupation with death for her own unsuccessful attempt at suicide.

Zealots who are pushing New Age notions of death under the guise of "education" are undeterred by parental protests that their children are having nightmares or depression. The "educators" who have been on a brainwashing ego trip have done their best to cover their own tracks.

Manuals accompanying some of these programs show how to evade and mislead parents and the public.

Running through all these programs is the notion that morality is optional: If it feels good to you, do it!

We will never know how good it felt to those young killers to shoot down those around them. Nor can we know how much the school's own reckless experiments with brainwashing contributed to the tragedy.

But it is truly galling to have those who have been undermining both morality and parents for years now demand that parents be held legally responsible for the acts of their children.


05/03/99: Exit strategies
04/28/99: Tragedy and farce
04/26/99: Guilt and cop-outs
04/21/99: Choosing a college
04/16/99: When success fails
04/13/99: A photo-op foreign policy
04/09/99: Russia and the Serbs
04/06/99: Random thoughts
03/31/99: Irresponsible "experts"
03/29/99: Another Doleful prospect?
03/23/99: Random thoughts
03/22/99: Loving enemies
03/19/99: Naming names
03/15/99: Undermining the military
03/10/99: Joe DiMaggio -- icon of an era
03/02/99: Facts versus dogma on guns
03/01/99: Losing the cultural wars
02/22/99: "Saving" social security
02/18/99: Too many Ph.Ds?
02/8/99: A national disaster
02/8/99: Economic fallacies in the media: Part II
02/5/99: Why economists visit dentists so often
02/2/99: Warning: Good news
01/29/99: What is at stake?
01/26/99:Moral bankruptcy in the schools
01/22/99: Who is going to convict Santa Claus?
01/19/99: Seeing through the spin
01/13/99: A trial is a trial is a trial
01/11/99:Trials and tribulations
01/08/99: Rays of hope
01/04/99: Random thoughts
12/31/98: The President versus the presidency
12/29/98: The time is now!
12/23/98: World-class hypocrisy
12/21/98: The spreading corruption
12/17/98: Politically "contrite"
12/16/98: Polls and partisanship
12/14/98: The "non-profit" halo
12/11/98: Corruption and confusion
12/03/98: The health care "crisis"
11/30/98: Knowing what you are talking about
11/23/98: The impeachment legacy
11/23/98: Random thoughts
11/19/98: Tales out of bureaucracies
11/16/98: Scholarships based on scholarship
11/12/98: Forward march
11/09/98: Moral outrage
11/05/98: Will the Republicans ever learn?
11/02/98: A voter's duty
10/30/98: The poverty pimp's poem
10/29/98: Random thoughts on the election
10/27/98: "Partisan" and "unfair"
10/23/98: Ed-u-kai-tchun
10/21/98: McGwire, Maris and the Babe
10/16/98: Lightweight Boxer
10/14/98: A strange word
10/09/98: Impeachment standards
10/08/98: Alternatives to seriousness
10/07/98: Heredity, environment and talk
10/02/98: A much-needed guide
10/01/98: Starr's real crime
9/24/98: Costs and power
9/18/98: Are we sheep?
9/16/98: Judicial review
9/15/98: Hillary Rodham Crook?
9/14/98: Taking stock
9/11/98: Moment of truth
9/04/98: Random thoughts
8/31/98: The twilight of special prosecutors?
8/26/98: "Doing a good job"
8/24/98: America on trial?
8/19/98: Played for fools
8/17/98: A childish letter
8/11/98: Hiding behind a woman
8/07/98: A flying walrus in Washington?
8/03/98: "Affordability" strikes again
7/31/98: Random thoughts
7/27/98: Faith and mountains
7/24/98: Clinton in Wonderland
7/20/98: Where is black 'leadership' leading?
7/16/98: Do 'minorities' really have it that bad?
7/14/98: Race dialogue: same old stuff
7/10/98: Honest history
7/09/98: Dumb is dangerous
7/02/98: Gun-safety starts with
parental responsibility
6/30/98: When more is less
6/29/98: Are educators above the law?
6/26/98: Random Thoughts
6/24/98: An angry letter
6/22/98: Sixties sentimentalism
6/19/98:Dumbing down anti-trust
6/15/98: A changing of the guard?
6/11/98: Presidential privileges
6/8/98: Fast computers and slow antitrust
6/3/98: Can stalling backfire?
5/29/98: The insulation of the Left
5/25/98: Missing the point in the media
5/22/98: The lessons of Indonesia
5/20/98: Smart but silent
5/18/98: Israel, Clinton and character
5/14/98: Monica Lewinsky's choices
5/11/98: Random thoughts
5/7/98: Media obstruction of justice
5/4/98: Dangerous "safety"
5/1/98: Abolish Adolescence!
4/30/98: The naked truth
4/22/98: Playing fair and square
4/19/98: Bad teachers"
4/15/98: "Clinton in Africa "
4/13/98: "Bundling and unbundling "
4/9/98: "Rising or falling Starr "
4/6/98: "Was Clinton ‘vindicated'? "
3/26/98: "Diasters -- natural and political"
3/24/98: "A pattern of behavior"
3/22/98: Innocent explanations
3/19/98: Kathleen Willey and Anita Hill
3/17/98: Search and destroy
3/12/98: Media Circus versus Justice
3/6/98: Vindication
3/3/98: Cheap Shot Time
2/26/98: The Wrong Filter
2/24/98: Trial by Media
2/20/98: Dancing Around the Realities
2/19/98: A "Do Something" War?
2/12/98: Julian Simon, combatant in a 200-year war
2/6/98: A rush to rhetoric

©1999, Creators Syndicate