Monday, August 10, 2009

Maybe The Kids Are Not Quite So All Right……

Is there a cultural left bias in Jersey’s Health and Social Services towards subverting parental authority and undermining the role of the family by condoning under-age sex?
Tracking at random through a few recent back editions of the Jersey Evening [sic] Post, Clameur de Haro’s eye was caught by one of the facts given by Brook Jersey executive director Bronia Lever on the numbers of teenagers and young adults said to be seeking contraception advice and emergency contraception, “…some as young as 12….”.
For the record, and in case anyone should allege otherwise, CdeH thinks that Brook generally, and its Jersey clinic in particular, fulfils a vital function in the community, and that the advice and contraception sensitively dispensed by the Brook counsellors contribute significantly to reduced incidences of, particularly, early to mid-teen pregnancy – and also that it obviously discharges its functions in a very caring and empathetic way, the very numbers seeking Brook Jersey’s services being, apart from any other implications, a visible testament to its success.
But what we were not told by Ms Lever, however, is how many of those recipients or requestors of contraception advice or emergency contraception were under 16.
Now CdeH is no prude, and recalls with a contradictory mixture of wistful fondness and acute embarrassment his own adolescent fumblings, undertaken, on one or two occasions, while hoping to heaven that his co-fumbler’s assurances that she was 16, yes really, might just be truthful. But at the risk of appearing antediluvian, let’s not forget that 16 remains (until it’s changed by the legislature) the legal age of consent: so it follows, surely, that in the case of a sub-16 female client requesting post-coital emergency contraception, there is prima facie evidence before the clinic and its counsellors of the statutory offence of unlawful sex with a minor having been committed.
CdeH’s original intention, when the idea for this post was taking shape, was to pose the question – “Given that the law of the land has clearly been broken in such a case, to what extent is any judicial process invoked?” – because the idea of a public authority turning a blind eye to a serious breach of law isn’t an easy one to feel comfortable with. But recalling that Jersey seems to be considering the creation of a Sexual Offenders’ Register (of which subject more on another occasion), and then reading in this special briefing in the current issue of The Economist the often appalling consequences for people who can be placed on such a register for comparatively minor “technical” misdemeanours, it strikes CdeH that our local Brook counsellors are probably better using their discretion in mostly declining to get PC Plod involved.
But possibly even more importantly, when and to what extent, in the case of the very sub-16 clients, are the parents brought into the process?
CdeH of course acknowledges the confidentiality argument, and the reality that many of Brook’s clients would probably not consult it at all – with adverse consequences in some cases - if they thought their parents would be informed. But on the other hand, and writing as an erstwhile parent of daughters, it’s also not easy to feel entirely comfortable with the idea of a public authority concealing from loving, concerned, and would-be responsible parents its condoning, to the point of even facilitating, their offspring’s under-age sex.
What also disturbs Clameur de Haro here is the danger that all this isn’t just about sexual health advice and preventing unwanted teenage pregnancy – that it’s also, more insidiously, about furthering, even unwittingly, the cultural left’s agenda for the state to undermine parental authority and the position of the family as the principal societal unit, and to eventually supplant it as the prime nurturer of future generations.
Cultural marxism frequently seeks, whether via economic or social policy means, to weaken the position and authority of the unitary family as a discrete social unit, and to undermine parental rights and responsibilities to this end: it does this because the strong individual family unit, secure against the depredations of the state, is one of the bedrocks of a free society and therefore an inherent threat to the belief that only state activism can guarantee desired social outcomes.
Given the prevalence of cultural left attitudes in the UK social services, and the extent of recruitment and secondment from the UK that Jersey practises, it would be surprising if some of those attitudes had not found their way, either openly or covertly, into our social services locally. Indeed, there have been grounds in recent years for believing that this is so.
Should we therefore be worried that our justified focus on the numbers and youthfulness of some of Brook Jersey’s clients may in fact be masking the less apparent, the less immediate, but the no less significant danger that the role of parents is surreptitiously being diminished?
Clameur de Haro recalls Ms Lever’s, and Brook’s, endorsement a couple of years ago for the initiative launched by the Jersey Police to encourage parents to take greater responsibility for their children. Would it not be unfortunate, to say the least, if a misplaced sociological view of a vulnerable minor’s absolute right to confidentiality contributed to putting obstacles in the way of parents who want to do exactly that?
Add to del.icio.usDigg It!Stumble This


TonyTheProf said...

I think Brook takes the view that of the two evils, not involving parents and parental consent, and preventing unplanned pregnancy, the latter takes precedence. After all, if the parents were loving, concerned but Catholics, they might well feel compelled to force the underage teenager to have a child, and consider that an act of love. Regarding parental authority, I think in the modern world that has to be a negotiated consent; the days of the old parental flogging for misdemeanours is now gone. I don't think that is to do with a "leftish" agenda, but more to do with the cultural shift from the 1950s documental by socioligist Paul Heelas in his book on the "New Age"

Historically, of course, modern "childhood" is rather a modern invention, with its age placement of 16. That is in no way to say that the modern law is bad, but simply to say that if you want to go back to the past, in the Middle Ages they had child brides of 14. One of Mohammed's wives was a child bride. The Bar-Mitzvar is 14, and was a sign of adulthood. In Victorian times, young children would be sent down mines.

So the legal placement of 16 as the child /adult boundary is to some extent a matter of culture rather than a biological imperative, which is probably why it has problems trying to safeguard vulnerable children, while at the same time not all those children behave in accordance with the law.

I'm not convinced then that the "unitary family" is an absolute as such.

Clameur de Haro said...

I’m afraid I haven’t come across Paul Heelas, but as with so many of your comments, Tony, another one has been added to the “must-read” list.

I’m personally not so sure that that cultural shift which drives the erosion of allowing the exercise of parental responsibility (and I’m not equating this with flogging for misdemeanours and acknowledge that there are parents who are criminally irresponsible) isn’t part of a wider cultural marxism (to give political correctness its proper name) agenda one of whose aims is to re-balance child education in the widest sense of the term away from the family towards the state.

After all, one of the first actions of the Bela Kun government in Hungary in the 1920’s (generally acknowledged, I think, as the first government following Marcusian / Gramscian cultural theories) was to introduce compulsory sex education for children specifically as a means of weakening family structures and enabling the greater influence of the state.

And in recent days we have seen the latest tragic manifestations – a baby battered to death because the agents of the state refused apparently to contemplate reaching a condemnatory judgement about parenting abilities, while different agents of the state rip apart a loving family. See -