Children and Liberalism
How are the rights of children protected in liberalism? Are they left to their own devices? Do they have a right to a free education?
A child is a human being and an individual with the same rights as adults to be protected by government against violence and loss of freedom. Even so, it is important to shed light on certain details regarding children.
Right to Support
Unlike adults, children do not have fully developed mental capacity that enables them to think and assess as a completely independent individual. Because of this, the child has a right to protection and support from its parents. When people bring children into the world, they take on a big responsibility, which they are obligated to meet until the child becomes an adult individual able to take care of him- or herself.
Because children are human beings and have the potential to develop into a rational being with free will, they have rights by virtue of this. Therefore, mistreating children is against the law in a liberal constitutional society, the same way mistreating adults is against the law.
Any children that are abused by their parents will be taken care of by Child Protective Services. When it comes to adoption, the government will make sure potential adoptive parents are suited for the task.
Not a Right to Everything
Since children are not independent, they are not allowed to act or enter into agreements in an «adult» way, such as sexual relationships, buying intoxicants, etc.
Once children are adults, they can live in peace as they wish. There is no exact or natural distinction for when the transition from child to adult takes place. Therefore, a judicial boundary must be established in individual contexts, such as for buying intoxicants, for when a person is to be considered an adult.
One of the criticisms against liberalism is child labor. In the 1800s when early capitalism was at its strongest, many children worked in factories under horrible conditions. This was a relic from earlier feudalist society, however, and not a result of capitalism.
Instead, capitalism/liberalism contributed to improving the quality of life for everyone considerably, but this happened during the transition period. A transition from a backward society to a modern society with advanced technology cannot take place in just a few years.
Up through history, children have had to work, because parents could not produce enough to support the family single-handedly. Early capitalism and the industrial revolution made sure living conditions were improved dramatically and made production so efficient that child labor was no longer necessary.
In other words, there is no need for child labor in a liberal society. At the same time – as mentioned – children are protected by law against compulsion and abuse.
Children and Education
Because the government is only to protect negative rights, it is not in charge of running schools. This is for the private sector to handle, something it would handle just fine, just like all other products and services around us every day.
It is the task of the parents to raise their children, and they have a right to bring them up any way they want. The government cannot outlaw the exchange of ideas, but it does forbid force and violence.
There is every reason to believe that most parents will want the best for their children, therefore wanting to give them a good education. Children have no right to a free education, however. The prices in a free school market will still be reasonable because of ever greater streamlining and most optimal division of resources.
- Children have just as much right as adults to be protected against violence
- They also has a right to protection and provision from their parents
- Children do not have the right to buy intoxicants, to enter into sexual relationships with adults, and so on
- Capitalism eliminated the need for child labor by streamlining production
- No one can demand having their education financed by others against their will