Wednesday, March 11, 2009

When do your rights start?

This story from today's Boston Globe is more than a little disturbing to me. I understand and agree with curfews. It keeps everyone, teens included, a bit safer. What really makes me uneasy about it is if the Massachusetts Supreme Court upholds the decision and rules that curfew laws are unconstitutional. With one simple ruling, the courts will effectively remove the last shreds of control parents currently have over their children. The key is all about the right to free movement.

At what age do the rights written into the Constitution take effect? That is the main issue here. Should the Supreme Court decide that minors have the right to free movement, what is to stop a 13 year old from trying to have his parents arrested for not letting him or her out of the house at midnight? An extreme example? Probably, but in this day and age definitely not unlikely.

Everyone agrees that the freedoms and rights in our Constitution are what set us apart from a lot of the world. That's why so many people are risking their lives to come here. But where do we draw the line? When do we decide that someone is old enough to be protected by those rights? That's the sticking point. There's a extremely large grey area here. Nobody, I believe, is going to argue that a 9 year old can go wherever they want whenever they want. It's once those teen years come around that causes a problem.

In my opinion, the teen years is when parents need control over their kids. That is when kids are most at risk. Too much peer pressure, the stresses of growing up, and the mixed messages that are constantly thrown at them by the media can be too much for most teens. Without a strong hand from their parents guiding them, who knows where they will end up. It's bad enough that the last few generations (yes, mine included) have had their "rights" spewed at them by the schools. If you take away all of the parents ability to discipline their kids, you will end up with an entire generation of people who think that they can do anything they want whenever they want and they can't be held responsible. If you think our country is bad now, just wait until this happens.

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