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.
We 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 www.outdoorsdownsouth.com.