The rights of a parent

When you have children, it is your responsibility to take care of them and your right to do so as you see fit, but at what point does the government have the right to step in and say what needs to be done?

The Evening Sun office was the site of a debate this week about the rights of parents versus the well being of children, after two high profile stories dominated headlines of national news organizations.

The first story was about a 13-year-old boy and his mother, who were on the run because the boy did not want to undergo chemo therapy, even after the court ordered the treatment be given.

The second story, in the news last week, was about a 14-year-old boy weighing in at 555 pounds. After the South Carolina Department of Social Services began investigating claims of child neglect and endangerment, the mother and son fled to Maryland.

While the two stories are vastly different, they both contain a common theme. Who has the right to decide what is best for a child, the parents or the government?

As a parent, I dislike the thought of anyone telling me how I need to raise my child. No one can know your child as well as you do, and while something might make sense for one child, it may not for another. That being said, in these, and honestly most cases, I side with government intervention.

Iím sure if I were in the situation that either of these families were in, I might feel differently, but when your behavior as a parent puts your child at risk of injury, health problems or potentially death, your rights should be taken away. At some point, the rights of the child have to be considered as well.

In the first story, the child did not want to undergo chemotherapy, despite the fact that the treatment might save his life, but at age 13, I donít think many children are mature enough to make an informed life or death decision. Maybe it isnít the stateís place to force the treatment, but if the child lives to be an adult (which doctors say is more than likely with the treatment) he may appreciate the fact that they did.

In the second case, Iím sure the 14-year-old didnít blame his parents for his obesity, but reaching the 555-pound point didnít happen overnight. It would take years of poor eating habits and inactivity to reach that point, and as a parent, you are directly influencing those decisions. Buying healthy food and making your child play outside isnít a difficult thing to do, especially if you start those habits early in life. Waiting until there are already health risks and problems at age 14 due to that lifestyle is most definitely something I would consider to be abuse.

People should have the freedom to live their lives in the way they see fit, but I think that ends the moment your behavior starts to hurt or endanger others. That goes for your children and for the rest of the population.

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