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A Modest Crime-Prevention Proposal: If You Want to Raise a Child, First, Get a License

| November 4, 2013

Are you capable? (The Advocacy Project)

Are you capable? (The Advocacy Project)

By Jim McClellan

The U.S. Constitution includes very specific protection for the right of citizens to bear arms. It does not, however, mention any similar right to bear children.

With that in mind, I have an idea that will reduce all types of crime and violence without explicitly infringing on the Constitution in the process. What I propose are some tough new restrictions on people in this country who want to have and rear kids.

According to a National Institute of Justice study, maltreated children are 53 percent more likely to be arrested as juveniles and 38 percent more likely as young adults. And that doesn’t even include the people whose bad parenting didn’t rise to the level of abuse or neglect or the offenders who were never caught.

Of course, not every violent adult is the product of bad child rearing. But those numbers do make a pretty compelling case that reasonable, common sense laws about who can be a parent will make our streets safer.

context floridaWe can start by developing a licensing process. This is basic due diligence that’s required before we’re allowed to drive a vehicle. Surely it’s not too much to ask before we allow someone to take on the responsibility for bringing up a child.

The first step in the process would be a background check to determine whether the prospective parent has a criminal record. If so, there should be solid evidence that he or she has reformed and stayed out of trouble for a length of time that’s set according to the severity of the offense. However, a violent crime or a crime against a child should trigger an automatic, permanent rejection.

Character references from other parents should be required as well. And by “parents,” I mean people whose children have reached adulthood, who are not in prison and who are contributing members of society. At least one of these letters should be from a grandparent or other relative who will agree to assume parenting duties if necessary.

That brings up another important consideration – the family environment. Is it a loving home with caring adults who are emotionally prepared to raise children? We have to be sure the parent or parents will be present for their child, during good times and bad.

Too many kids now are left to the streets because their parents care more about themselves and their own happiness. That’s dangerous for the kids and for the rest of us, so we ought to be working to prevent it.

Assuming the applicant meets these criteria, there should be a binding contract, ensuring unconditional love always, effective discipline when necessary, and consistent guidance until adulthood – and for as long as needed thereafter.

Once licensed parenthood is achieved by birth or adoption, the government should perform spot checks periodically to make sure the terms of the contract are being followed. In the event of a violation, the license should be revoked and the child sent to a better home.

I recognize that there may be some flaws in my plan, but if we have to make some sacrifices in the name of public safety, so be it. After all, if it saves lives, it’s worth it, right?

What’s that, you say? It’s not worth it?

You say this is a completely unworkable scheme, one that would be a gross overreach by the federal government into our personal lives? You think it’s being offered up for purely political reasons rather than any genuine concern for human life?

Well, you’re right. And now you understand how I feel every time some politician, columnist or talking head spouts off about how restricting my Second Amendment rights will prevent psychotic madmen from killing or stop gang violence or end drug wars.

The fact is people are hurt and killed by bad people. When we stop producing them, we’ll stop crime and violence.

Until then, I’ll be among the millions of peaceful, law-abiding Americans who are keeping our guns.

Jim McClellan is a fifth-generation Florida native and a former speechwriter for Governor Lawton Chiles, writes at

15 Responses for “A Modest Crime-Prevention Proposal: If You Want to Raise a Child, First, Get a License”

  1. Steve Wolfe says:

    Even though this is satire, I don’t think it is beyond the liberal mind-set to consider legislation that would define and enforce the politically-correct version of parents, family, and children. That would enable them to close the circle around our society. Just mandate what parents must teach their children, like no guns, no winners, no hate, no fats or salt intake. If the agency of parenting doesn’t think you conform, they can just abort your family.

  2. Genie says:

    It will be workable just as soon as we stop paying mothers to have babies.

  3. BW says:

    First, what I do agree with is the problem and relationship that I think you are trying to address . . . the decline of the family unit and it’s contribution to crime and other social issues. For years many warned about the repercussions of the break down of the family unit, declining values, and the impact on society at large. Well, here we are today, and it seems they are correct.

    On the side of your proposed solution, it is always interesting to me how people think another law is always the answer. I particularly like the mentioning of the Constitution. Although it doesn’t explicitly say a lot of things, there is a spirit in which it was created to protect personal freedoms and not to be used by individuals to create a police-state for any reason.

    The problem with escalating crime, poverty, and many other social problems aren’t corrected by rules. They are corrected by changing hearts and minds by opening up people’s eyes. We have spent decades now erasing “lines” (values) that were once clear in society all in the spirit of “freedom” but the reality is that those things we herald as “ok” today are the same things eating away at freedom and safety for all. This is not contained just at the lower income levels of our society either, income disparity is a very real problem self-created and one we continue to promote and defend everyday. As a society we need to take a good hard look in the mirror.

    • Steve Wolfe says:

      It is good to understand that legislation often fails to affect the change in human behavior that it is aimed at. Only people who routinely honor the law are actually inhibited from behaving in an unruly manner, because law-abiding people aren’t in need of external controls. Most law-abiding people have internal control, which is precisely what the Founding Fathers envisioned when they enumerated our freedoms from tyrannical government. Self-government without self-control won’t work. Self-government and self-control are from the conscience. Some folks don’t have much of that. That’s why we are well-served by jails.

  4. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    While I somewhat agree with the conclusion, I think there’s a better way. (especially since the constitution certainly does reference parenting, it’s called liberty!) Rather than licensing parents, we should simply offer voluntary cash payouts for sterilization. i.e. single mother applies for welfare, the Government offers a one time cash payment of $10,000 on top of whatever welfare she would normally get if the mother agrees to be sterilized. Purely voluntary, if she wants to do it she can, if she doesn’t, no problem. $10k would be a pittance compared to the overall costs to society if she follows the statistics and has more children and unilaterally assigns the cost of raising those children to the taxpayer.

    • nomad says:

      Good suggestion except that $10,000 in these times is a pittance. It needs to be more plus whatever welfare, disability, and other freebies the mother would normally get. In countries where under population is a problem, governments pay very handsome amounts for married people to have kids, in addition to providing them with all the comforts – home, food, clothing, etc – to make this situation as pleasant as possible. These highly valued and sought after kids are also guaranteed free and quality education all the way to college. For poor, desperate, and weak people, America makes having a kid too easy. Free and easy access to abortion which turns women into cold hearted monsters is not the solution either.

  5. JIM.R says:

    I would agree with that but only if they also pass a law to sterilize the Bush, Trump, and Palin family members. While we’re at it we may as well include all the bankers and billionaire parasites that have managed to steal the wealth of the country. Sterilize them all

  6. Nancy says:

    Been saying this for years. Kids need to be protected from some parents [and shockingly teachers] down here in FL who see nothing of beating a child with a 2 foot wooden board.. Sometimes when their ‘guardians’ are extra incensed they can even use the board with holes in it for extra pain. Need to be licensed first and if caught beating a child, off to jail. I certainly have no qualms about calling the police to intervene. There needs to be standards to be given the gift of children.

    Not to mention assault rifles.

  7. Genie says:

    When we were kids, any damages done by kids were charged to the parents. They were held financially accountable for the actions of their children.

    And then we decided that RESPONSIBILITY isn’t a part of the language anymore. We’ve even done away with the basic Ten Commandments.

    You can’t police everyone, but you can teach them to be responsible for their actions.

  8. Rufus McCoy says:

    How about we just spray sterilizing gas across the whole United States and make sure NO ONE has anymore children. That way we can be sure that Islam will definitely take over this planet in 10 years. What a dumb article !

  9. Outsider says:

    I agree with Genie: the biggest problem is that the government encourages people to have children that they can’t afford to raise. If we actually went back to a system where people felt pain for making bad decisions we wouldn’t be in this predicament. Liberalism, welfare programs in particular are the root cause of many of these bad parents having children.

  10. Sherry Epley says:

    Excuse me. . . it isn’t only poor people on welfare who are bad parents, and it isn’t the just our welfare system that needs to be reformed to DISCOURAGE people from having children they cannot raise in a healthy environment. Our religions that do NOT allow for birth control of any kind and those “right to birth” advocates who INSIST that children be born into unhealthy circumstances, against the will of many women, have much of the responsibility in this terrible situation as well!

  11. Rocky Mac says:

    Johnny, you failed to mention sterilizing the men too. Who do you think is impregnating these women?

  12. Sherry Epley says:

    Right on Rocky Mac!

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