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Parental rights? Maybe not
Parental rights? Maybe not. (By Richard Amrhine)

Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 2/17/2013

WE HAVE an 18-year-old son who's headed off to college in the fall and a daughter who's 16 and doing wonderful things every day. Parenting has long been an integral part of life for me and my wife, but I don't think we ever considered it a hot-button social issue.

I never really thought about "parental rights" except in cases where I wish they could be taken away from those who would damage their children either emotionally or physically. I think it's more important to consider the kids who need to be protected from their parents, rather than the parents who think they need to be protected from the government.

I've always subscribed to the "it takes a village" concept. The term was popularized in a 1996 book of the same title by then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who credited the African proverb "It takes a village to raise a child."

It makes sense, doesn't it? In a perfect world every child enjoys a healthy family setting. But we know that's not always the case. According to adoption.com, there are some 120,000 American children who each year become part of a family only after they're adopted. There are many more who are either not legally available for adoption or are unlikely candidates for adoption because they're older or have serious emotional issues. Their futures really depend on the village.

Perhaps more disturbing, according to information published by a Stanford University researcher in the mid-2000s, an estimated 1.3 million runaway or homeless kids are out there at any given time. Many of these kids may be beyond the reach of any individual, let alone a village.


In my largely problem-free experience of raising two kids in a terrific Spotsylvania County subdivision, the village is very much a part of the process and involves child care providers, teachers, coaches, and neighbors just keeping an eye on them.

I figure that state Sen. Bryce Reeves, the Spotsylvania Republican, had the best intentions when he introduced SB 908 and figured there was something worthwhile to accomplish. The problem is that blanket-rights bills like this one, which parrots the views of parentalrights.org, are likely to do more harm than good, no matter how wholesome they may sound.

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