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Author Topic: How would a truly libertarian society protect children from abusive parents?  (Read 3710 times)

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salimfadhley

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A few months ago everybody in England was shocked to hear the story of "Baby P" who was abused and brutally killed by his mother and step-dad. You can find details of the story here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Baby_P

As in many of these neglect cases the state had a role: Social services had seen the child repeatedly and failed to notice that the child was being abused. Following an inquiry most media and politicians agreed that this case as a systematic failure of the state in it's duty of protection.

The question is, can we do any better than this? What (if any) is the role of the state in the protection of vulnerable children? What non-state institutions might do a better job of ensuring that children born into violent or abusive families have a chance to prosper?
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Diogenes The Cynic

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We cant do much, admittedly. A privatized system would not have the teeth or muscle to prevent abuse (NAP after all), so it would be up to well meaning individuals and social networks.
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anarchir

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Yep social networks, and family.

Edit: they would be the one's to notice or report the problems anyway right?
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salimfadhley

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I suppose that in a nation without social-services people would have to look out for each other more - the old pioneer spirit.

I do not believe that the solution is as easy as you make it out to be: Firstly, people can opt-out of social networks and no well-meaning private individual can simply intervene in another family's affairs.

Supposing you heard (via the social network) that your neighbour was being cruel to his cat. You might justifiably say that since the cat was his property what he chooses to do in his own home is none of your business: Live and let live.

On the other hand supposing you heard that your neighbour was being cruel to one of his children, what actions could you take? We dont believe that a child is "property" in the sense that a cat might be, so the live and let live argument is less persuasive. But if we want to intervene and stop the cruelty what can we actually do in the absence of a state to complain to?

That reminds me of a story discussed on the radio show: A couple refused to give their child medical assistance and as a consequence the kid died. A caller to the show asked what punishment would be appropriate for negligent parents who do not allow their children to be treated for an easily curable but potentially fatal condition. I thought it was telling that nobody asked what might have been done to prevent this sort of thing?
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anarchir

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I dont think there can be a "catch-all" solution. It will be flawed no matter what system.
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Rillion

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As in many of these neglect cases the state had a role: Social services had seen the child repeatedly and failed to notice that the child was being abused. Following an inquiry most media and politicians agreed that this case as a systematic failure of the state in it's duty of protection.

The question is, can we do any better than this?

That's the question you have to ask-- if something like the case of "Baby P" can happen in a place where the government has a very intrusive role in the child-rearing of private citizens, could things honestly be worse without that happening?

The worst things that humans can do to other humans, government can't prevent without society going into complete police state lockdown.  Sure, you could  prevent people from stabbing, shooting, raping, kidnapping, or even just punching each other if we all lived in padded cells with a 24 hour security patrol.  That would work.  But at what cost?  The further government goes in order to prevent people who don't care about the law in the first place from breaking it, the more freedom it costs the rest of us.  This is why libertarianism can never be described as a utopian philosophy.  Libertarians know that government can never  build a perfect society, in which people always respect each other and do what they're supposed to do.  So a libertarian political philosophy focuses on damage control, on making it possible for individual humans to get as close as possible to their own individual utopias without fucking up somebody else's in the process. 

Normal human beings, the kind who aren't psychos, spend a very small amount of time being shitty to each other and they do so on a small scale.  This will not change no matter how much or how little government involvement exists in their lives.  And the psychos will be psychos until you literally chain them to the wall.   Then they'll still be psychos; they just won't be able to do anything about it.  So when you go for the lowest common denominator and inhibit the lives of normal people in order to try and catch the few abnormally immoral people, your logic is fundamentally flawed.  The expression that "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" can be applied to pretty much anything.  The very people you're trying to stop using the law are the very people who don't give a damn about the law in the first place. 
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Mr. Schlinky

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I think that a "protective service" in a free market would be allowed to take part in remedying this situation. Of course, if the service was wrong, they expose themselves to risk of loss. Children are not "property", they are young humans who have rights just as any other, and the parents have a responsibility to protect them from harm. I would think that knowingly allowing a child to come to harm that could have been prevented would be signs of mental illness on the part of the parents, just as certain people are still going to hurt each other due to a similar condition. Total ostracism would not work, as the parents are likely already intentionally insulated from society, but I think it would be up to the community to express their concerns to the parents, and offer solutions that result in the child receiving proper care. Proper incentives would have to be in place to get the parents to want to care for their child, and failing that, to prevent the death of the child who cannot protect themselves.

Couching this sort of neglect in "religious belief" just ignores the fact that neglect is causing real harm to the child. It is not liberty or freedom that allows people to hurt other people, regardless of their relationship and age. It is a slippery slope that needs to be managed carefully by the market, which I'm sure would eventually happen.

The current CPS/C&Y "services" provided by the government do far more harm than good in most cases. Their only incentive is to process families through the system as fast as possible, and to protect their budget at all costs. I used to work with many C&Y people who are wonderful, caring human beings who really are trying to help, as opposed to some of the horror stories that we hear in other areas. Even with the high percentage of decent, loving people, there are still caseworkers that I don't want to be in the same room with, let alone trust any part of my child's welfare to.
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YixilTesiphon

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What Rillion said. "The best we could."
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Richard Garner

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I think that a "protective service" in a free market would be allowed to take part in remedying this situation. Of course, if the service was wrong, they expose themselves to risk of loss. Children are not "property", they are young humans who have rights just as any other, and the parents have a responsibility to protect them from harm. I would think that knowingly allowing a child to come to harm that could have been prevented would be signs of mental illness on the part of the parents, just as certain people are still going to hurt each other due to a similar condition. Total ostracism would not work, as the parents are likely already intentionally insulated from society, but I think it would be up to the community to express their concerns to the parents, and offer solutions that result in the child receiving proper care. Proper incentives would have to be in place to get the parents to want to care for their child, and failing that, to prevent the death of the child who cannot protect themselves.

Couching this sort of neglect in "religious belief" just ignores the fact that neglect is causing real harm to the child. It is not liberty or freedom that allows people to hurt other people, regardless of their relationship and age. It is a slippery slope that needs to be managed carefully by the market, which I'm sure would eventually happen.

The current CPS/C&Y "services" provided by the government do far more harm than good in most cases. Their only incentive is to process families through the system as fast as possible, and to protect their budget at all costs. I used to work with many C&Y people who are wonderful, caring human beings who really are trying to help, as opposed to some of the horror stories that we hear in other areas. Even with the high percentage of decent, loving people, there are still caseworkers that I don't want to be in the same room with, let alone trust any part of my child's welfare to.

This.

What would happen is that a big ass children's charity, like Bernardos, would pay for a protection agency to protect their officers whilst they came and took "baby P" off the parents. If they tried this against normal parents, those parents would hire protection against them, but why the hell would a neglectful family then spend money out bidding Bernardo's to get a court that will let them keep a baby they are neglecting?
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Diogenes The Cynic

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I think that a "protective service" in a free market would be allowed to take part in remedying this situation. Of course, if the service was wrong, they expose themselves to risk of loss. Children are not "property", they are young humans who have rights just as any other, and the parents have a responsibility to protect them from harm. I would think that knowingly allowing a child to come to harm that could have been prevented would be signs of mental illness on the part of the parents, just as certain people are still going to hurt each other due to a similar condition. Total ostracism would not work, as the parents are likely already intentionally insulated from society, but I think it would be up to the community to express their concerns to the parents, and offer solutions that result in the child receiving proper care. Proper incentives would have to be in place to get the parents to want to care for their child, and failing that, to prevent the death of the child who cannot protect themselves.

Couching this sort of neglect in "religious belief" just ignores the fact that neglect is causing real harm to the child. It is not liberty or freedom that allows people to hurt other people, regardless of their relationship and age. It is a slippery slope that needs to be managed carefully by the market, which I'm sure would eventually happen.

The current CPS/C&Y "services" provided by the government do far more harm than good in most cases. Their only incentive is to process families through the system as fast as possible, and to protect their budget at all costs. I used to work with many C&Y people who are wonderful, caring human beings who really are trying to help, as opposed to some of the horror stories that we hear in other areas. Even with the high percentage of decent, loving people, there are still caseworkers that I don't want to be in the same room with, let alone trust any part of my child's welfare to.

This.

What would happen is that a big ass children's charity, like Bernardos, would pay for a protection agency to protect their officers whilst they came and took "baby P" off the parents. If they tried this against normal parents, those parents would hire protection against them, but why the hell would a neglectful family then spend money out bidding Bernardo's to get a court that will let them keep a baby they are neglecting?

This smacks of wishful thinking. Some people out there are controlling.
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Kevin Freeheart

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How would a truly libertarian society protect children from abusive parents?

To be fair, I don't think any system without much advanced technology and total lack of freedom could PROTECT children - not fascism, nanny-statism, free market capitalism, et cetera.

It would provide more remedies for victims though. One would be self-emmancipation so a child could leave an abusive home. Today, if a charity opened it's doors that took in abused kids AGAINST THE PARENT'S WISHES, they'd be jailed for kidnapping, even if the child said they wanted to be at the charity. This wouldn't be the case in a truly libertarian society.

I'd like to think, though it might be a pipe dream, that less abusive parents actually would have children. Like it or not, children are a burden IF you're not 100% committed to parenting. Today that burden is eased with welfare from the block cheese to the government school kind. In a libertarian world, a child wouldn't have free education tossed at them. If they actually wanted to seek out some kind of skill, the would have to look outside of their parents which again opens up that emmancipation thing.

No systems is really going to be able to deal with absolute sicko nutjobs. Some people are really willing to deal with anything to aggress against others, and the only thing we can do with that is make a system that lessens the damage done by those sickos.
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Alex Libman 15

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Children and other legal dependents have only two natural rights: the (negative) right to life, and the (positive) right to emancipation.  The former means that from the point when a baby becomes physically autonomous (i.e. birth) to the point of death killing a human being is a major no-no: regardless of age, mental capacity, dependency status, and so on.  The latter means that the parents can't do anything to prevent the child from becoming a self-owning individual upon reaching an age of maturity, or to prevent them suing to be adopted or emancipated early, or to prevent someone else suing on the child's behalf.  If a parent / guardian violates those rights, then use of violence to protect their children (i.e. by abducting them) is fully justified.

This means the parents have an obligation to disclose some information to the community at large: that they have a child, the age of that child, if that child is mentally handicapped, if they can't afford / don't intend to take care of that child so that it may die, and so on.  Aside from that - parents have the right to do whatever the hell they want.  There are plenty of natural mechanisms that will discourage child abuse: ostracism, explicit contractual obligations to follow a code of conduct that are created through marriage / church / school / homeowner association / employment, and so on.

Yes, some parents will have children, not tell anybody, and keep them locked up in a basement for the duration of their short and miserable lives with no one knowing their rights are being violated.  This happens from time to time in spite of all the government "child protection" bureaucracy that is already in place, and it will happen in a free society as well.  This mere possibility does not create a "divine right" for a government entity to go around searching everyone's basement.

Yes, some parents can refuse private child welfare agencies / NGO's from checking up on a child, but those refusals will be tracked and after a while there'll be a serious cause for concern.  Those agencies will be fully justified to assume the worst and publish blacklists of suspected child abusers, which is a strong encouragement for cooperation.

Yes, some parents will use "inappropriate" levels of violence or sexual contact with their children, but inappropriate according to whom?  Child sexuality has been widely recognized in most cultures of the world before those cultures were affected by the prudish Abrahamic religions.  Those subjective mores should be dealt with through public opinion -- reputation and ostracism -- not law!  Hurting a child to the point of death or brain damage violates that child's natural rights, but that aside - the parents make the rules.

The issue of parents' rights isn't just a moral issue, but an essential pragmatic one as well.  It has been clearly demonstrated that making parents the servants of their children, as has become the case in most industrialized countries throughout the world, leads to unsustainably low birth rates, and thus tremendous (though initially invisible) economic loss.  Who in their right mind wants to waste so much time and money, as well as physical and emotional energy, raising little snitches for the state?!  As religious brainwashing gradually wears off, ever-fewer people choose to have children, and especially more than one, while a societal average of below ~2.2 kids per woman leads to a shrinking and aging population, thus fewer and less innovative workers, skyrocketing prices, falling IQ levels, and falling quality of life.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2009, 07:31:08 PM by Alex Libman 2012 »
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markuzick

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I do not believe that the solution is as easy as you make it out to be: Firstly, people can opt-out of social networks and no well-meaning private individual can simply intervene in another family's affairs.

If one opts out of civilized society in order to engage in what some see as abusive behavior, then they also give up the protections that come from the participation with any of the governing bodies that comprise civilization. They become vulnerable to well armed campaigns waged by organized charitable private agencies that are devoted to the protection of the rights of the defenseless.

If they hire private police and a private court to "protect their way of life", they would need to conform to at least the bare minimum of what a voluntary society would judge to be defensible behavior and in so doing, would be reintegrated back into civilization.

The burden of proof and liability would be on private policing agencies and so the abuse and corruption, that's typical of state policing agencies, would not survive for long in a system of free market government.
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To claim "economic rent" from someone Else's labor when applied to land, which is something no one can own outright, is in itself, to claim landlord status over raw nature. It is an attempt at coercive monopoly power that is at the root of statism.

Diogenes The Cynic

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I do not believe that the solution is as easy as you make it out to be: Firstly, people can opt-out of social networks and no well-meaning private individual can simply intervene in another family's affairs.

If one opts out of civilized society in order to engage in what some see as abusive behavior, then they also give up the protections that come from the participation with any of the governing bodies that comprise civilization. They become vulnerable to well armed campaigns waged by organized charitable private agencies that are devoted to the protection of the rights of the defenseless.

If they hire private police and a private court to "protect their way of life", they would need to conform to at least the bare minimum of what a voluntary society would judge to be defensible behavior and in so doing, would be reintegrated back into civilization.

The burden of proof and liability would be on private policing agencies and so the abuse and corruption, that's typical of state policing agencies, would not survive for long in a system of free market government.


It sounds like you believe in the social contract theory.
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markuzick

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I do not believe that the solution is as easy as you make it out to be: Firstly, people can opt-out of social networks and no well-meaning private individual can simply intervene in another family's affairs.

If one opts out of civilized society in order to engage in what some see as abusive behavior, then they also give up the protections that come from the participation with any of the governing bodies that comprise civilization. They become vulnerable to well armed campaigns waged by organized charitable private agencies that are devoted to the protection of the rights of the defenseless.

If they hire private police and a private court to "protect their way of life", they would need to conform to at least the bare minimum of what a voluntary society would judge to be defensible behavior and in so doing, would be reintegrated back into civilization.

The burden of proof and liability would be on private policing agencies and so the abuse and corruption, that's typical of state policing agencies, would not survive for long in a system of free market government.


It sounds like you believe in the social contract theory.

Certainly not! Why would you say so?

I believe in a society where the state doesn't exist; that is based on voluntary contract; where governments have no monopoly; where competing civil governments may only rule by the consent of the individual that is governed, not the consent of the collective.
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As the state feeds off of the limitation and destruction of legitimate government, anarchy is its essence.

To claim "economic rent" from someone Else's labor when applied to land, which is something no one can own outright, is in itself, to claim landlord status over raw nature. It is an attempt at coercive monopoly power that is at the root of statism.
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