Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Protective Circle

It's been a while since I offered an essay. This is a work in progress, concerning how far off the mark the popular conception of child protection is. It has been postulated that more injustice against young people is done on the basis of this principle of "protection" than from any other force.


For children, there is no objective good. Often when people talk about protecting the innocence of children they assume there is one measurable standard of care that necessarily benefits them. This is in terms of popular consciousness, because any professional will attest to the fact that for children there are possibly endless forms of adult intervention that serve to benefit the individual child. Popular consciousness tends to deride certain interventions with children as necessarily harmful or helpful regardless of their observable effects. Acts that are considered helpful and those that are considered harmful are only schematic categories. The only undeniable proof of their categorical representation ought to be externally visible on real life children—not phantoms.

The child is nothing but a representation. If I were to say that children are harmed by sex, for instance, there is no specification of what children I am referring to, what type of harm is inflicted, to what degree the harm is inflicted, to what degree the harm can be reversed, and what type of sexual advance was administered. If these questions can not be answered, then what we are dealing with is a phantom child, a non-living spirit, a representation with no presence anywhere outside the mind, and an activity that also could be considered representational. What popular consciousness does is it replaces the real living and breathing child with a phantom representation, and asserts that some acts are necessarily harmful to it and that others are not. How can harm be inflicted on a phantom child? When we consider such statements as necessary truths, we show a great care for phantom children that we are depriving real living breathing children.

Killing Statements

The insertion of “perhaps” or “can” into our objective statements defang the beasts, but they still remain just as ravenous. The statement that children can be harmed by sex allows us to assert that some unjustifiable act, still of unknown specificity, has the potential to cause harm, still of unknown quantity, on phantom children. That is all well and good, but since real children are nowhere included in the statement, at the preference for phantoms, we are still forced to regard the objectivity of the statement as pertaining to phantoms rather than real children. Real children exist in the world of the living, not in the world of the imagination, or in the popular consciousness. One can not talk about what harms and what doesn’t harm, what threatens or doesn’t threaten children until one addresses specific examples of real children—the ones with names and faces. Otherwise, one is simply referring to phantoms.

To remove the maws and claws from this beast and truly render it limp, we have to strip away our preconceptions further. In other words, to keep statements from being harmful to children (seeing as that has become the justification for all human behavior these days) we have to back track to the foundation upon which it stands and rip the rug out from beneath it—to get it lying on its back. Simply adding in the precautionary clause “some,” as in some children can be harmed by sex, does nothing to slay the implication of the statement. We’re still forced to consider that only some phantom children can be harmed by sex rather than the whole lot of them. This is all well and good to know, but it should be real children we are concerned with, considering it’d be hard to prove a phantom child exists at all, never mind that such a spirit can be “harmed” by something we mortals do.

To fully lay limp this beast, we have to kill the statement. After we do so, we realize that statements can do no harm to phantom children any more than the acts that they imply, but to fully set our public consciousness toward assisting real children, rather than fooling around with these universal platitudes directed more toward spirits—it becomes necessary to kill the statement completely. To kill a statement, you simply propose to who specifically you are referring to. If you are making a statement in regards to a living entity, it ought to have a specific name and a specific face. If the object of the statement does not have either, then we are forced to concede that we have unwittingly created another beast.

Now the statement, for children there is no objective good, might be considered another beast, but it implies that very same source of confusion around marrying our constructions of reality to terms that is the focus of this discourse. It is true that our schematic representation of objective good is also a castle built upon a spider’s web just as much as the phantom children it focuses on, but it is not a beast because it doesn’t reference any supposed objective harm to those phantom children. What we are considering are statements that imply some objective harm to some general conception of children. The statement that statements are harmful to children is an example of a beast. Let's kill it.

Redefining Threat

The reason such statements can be considered “beasts” is an example of a human fallibility in preconception. In early human history, it became important to protect our specific offspring from creatures—real beasts, which could do real or objective harm to them. The savanna was a dangerous environment for the young of our species, as is nature—we didn’t need to have to state it to make it so. When the leopards were out prowling, it was understood what danger was actually there, it didn’t need to be conceptualized. Even if no harm resulted from a close encounter, it wasn’t a metaphorical representation of harm. It was a leopard. And when the young were placed in the center of the circle of armed guards, they were real live children, not a popular conception of children or phantoms. Somewhere in our history the popular values concerning “threats” to our children grew to become, on the whole, phantom beasts on the prowl for phantom children. One can easily picture a circle of armed humans in the modern world, protecting a pillar that is the universal representation of “children” (something faceless and formless—in the realm of ideas) from giant “pillars of evil” standing all around, also as formless and motionless.

While we arm the battalions to defend a formless entity from a formless evil (which has become the standard model of reasoning in this world of terror), one question I think crucial remains—where are the actual children and the actual evils? Over time in our history, as our civilization grew so did our awareness of harms to children, some which aren’t even physical, such as the leopard example. We have to realize that when research is done that connects a harm in the world to children, it is actually referencing a specific harm to a specific group or “sample” of children, and on those grounds, is actually a far more useful tool in discovering what is harmful from what isn’t than popular conception. It is by no means truly objective, but at least it recognizes its own fallibilities.

To Be Continued.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Best Gift this Year

Once again the holidays are here and parents are wondering if saying no to kids the best gift you can give them. If you are one of them, consider this:

“According to the Center for a New American Dream…two thirds of parents say their kids define their self worth in terms of possessions, half say their kids prefer to go to a shopping mall than to go hiking or on a family outing; and a majority admit to buying their children products they disapprove of—products that may even be bad for them—because the kids said they needed’ the items to fit in with their friends (Gibbs par. 11).” --TIME Magazine
Your child is not a prince or a princess, regardless of what time of year it is. If they were, then they'd probably be able to vote. If you want children to learn to be themselves, they're going to have to undergo some civil disobedience. The holidays present an opportunity to either give in and go after the high ticket items or restrain and use it as a lesson in gratitude.

But think about it. What sense does it make to once a year during the holidays all of a sudden decide to "listen" to the youth when they say they want something and then deprive them that respect every other time? All year long they've been repressed, how is buying them the latest high ticket item going to make it all better?

The fact is, you can't uplift youth by selling your better wisdom out to commercialism. No other time of year better represents how repressed kids are than the holidays. The repression they've endured throughout the year suddenly turns into rampant spoiling, simply because that has become the modality of profit exploitation. "So long as they get what they want, no harm..."

I believe this is the time of year to teach children a thing or two about civil disobedience. The choice this year is not between saying yes and giving in to their desires or saying no and choosing not to spoil them only because you'd rather not foot the bill. Kids are far more intelligent than that. The best gift you could give your kids this year is to teach them about the commercial exploitation itself. They will begin (as anyone would) at pulling apart every choice they can't choose to make, especially around this time of year.

Once you have them questioning, then you have them exploring. Of course it is human for them to want the material possessions that crowd the aisles, and no doubt they'll use the teachings of civil disobedience in order to resist their parent's supposed "better interests" and get the gifts they desire. However, just as anyone when given the power, they need to be told how to control it so that it doesn't lead to their misfortune or unhappiness. This has nothing to do with "child" and has everything to do with giving a person power, and teaching them how best to maintain it.
That is crutial to our resolve.

Give your kids the power this year. Make your presence be the "present."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bad Rap for Boys Looses them Adoptive Homes

The negative portrayals of boys in the media has a role in lessening the chances of getting adopted. Especially startling are the statistics from The British Association for Adoption and Fostering that at one of its "hard to place" agencies, boys accounted for 63 percent of the cases.

According to this story by the BBC, the BAAF is concerned that because of all the negative portrayals of boys in the media--violence, hyperactivity, behavioral and learning disorder rates, gangs...etc.--that some parents have been effectively put off from adopting them.

David Holmes, chief executive of BAAF, said: "We all need to remember that boys are children and young people first. The findings of this research concerns us as we are worried that some prospective adopters might be put off adopting boys because of negative perceptions.

"In reality there is little evidence to show that boys really are more difficult. We would urge people to remember that boys need adopting too."
Here are a few statistics out of the UK:

Of two national services run by the BAAF that attempt to find homes for hard-to-place children, in 2005 to 2006, one had 63% referrals who were boys and 37% who were girls; and the other had 56% referrals who were boys compared to 44% girls.

In polls, the majority of people agree that more often boys get negatively portrayed. This is unfortunate, but shouldn't be a shocker to all these media outlets who've worked their viewership over the years telling people that youth--and particularly boys--are "liars, cheaters, and thieves," as well as the pedophobic mindset where all youth are seen only as "potential criminals."

This kind of publicity doesn't help, and can be dangerous when it's taken to the extreme it has been. Particularly when a lot of the negative media boys get regards such frivolous charges of criminality, and many normal behaviors are being inflated to get as many parental customers as possible in the medicinal industrial complex.

What society sees as a problem have nothing to do with boys any more than any stereotype has to do with any group of people. Unfortunately, social norms that are keeping these boys out of caring homes don'y help any behavioral issues they may have either. If boys aren't in vougue these days, it's not they who have the problem.

Friday, December 5, 2008

New Jersey Raising Drop-Out Age

Here's an email I received from the National Youth Rights Association concerning youth in New Jersey. It's considered a step backwards for youth rights because it's another move to further prolong "adolescence" at the expense of youth, simply because shortening adolescence (such as has been suggested by prominent individuals like Robert Epstein and more recently Newt Gingrich) is neither culturally acceptable or marketable to people who can vote (the parents of these kids who push educational conformity for the sake of "success") and ultimately who foot the bill for their education. This is all the more reason for lowering the voting age as well.

They want what's best for New Jersey youth, but only if they can force them to accept no other alternatives than what they feel is best. They could be embracing New Hampshire's proposed model--speeding up the process of graduating gifted students--instead of forcing them to be held back where they're rendered useless...but that's a choice the New Jersey people are going to have to live with should they adopt it.

Here's an opportunity to make a difference for youth rights, especially for those of you who live in New Jersey.

The New Jersey state legislature is considering a bill to increase the compulsory schooling age from 16 to 18. This bill would mandate that 16- and 17-year-olds remain in school even if they don't want to be there and have nothing to gain from it. It is a step backwards for youth rights in New Jersey, and we should loudly and clearly oppose it.

To read the bill, go to this website and look for bill 375:

or go here to read the full text:

Here is another site with useful information about the bill:

If you live in New Jersey, please contact your state legislator and ask him or her to oppose this anti-youth bill. Talk about it with your friends and family, and write letters to the newspaper in opposition. If you don't live in New Jersey, encourage everyone you know who does to oppose this bill and contact their legislators about it. This is major anti-youth legislation, and we need to work to oppose it.

Justin Graham
Board of Directors
National Youth Rights Association

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Consequences of Feminism

Gender equality is an honorable thing, but unfortunately it just seems to be about the most unreachable thing out there. Reading through the scores of literature on the global gender performance gap (with boys behind across the board) might just make you forget about the fact that relatively no one is concerned with the much larger and statistically significant gaps between races and classes. That's an unforeseen legacy of feminism in and of itself, but as vigilant as education has been in the past in "evening out" the gaps, they can never seem to "manufacture" equality just right.

Back in the early 1990's, it was assumed that if they simply curved testing methodologies and teaching to include more contextual, cooperative, and figurative thinking exercises that they'd eliminate gender inequity by intentionally designing a system that favored girls. Over a decade later, after they've ridden high on the great success that was this flawed educational experiment-turned-political-weapon, now the feminists want to unfortunately derail progress toward gender equity by failing to realize what this unforeseen legacy of theirs is producing. After creating a system that favors girls, they boast great success at causing girls to close and reverse the gender gap but don't want to take any responsibility for at who's expense it was achieved (as does anyone); the other half.

Now it is these very groups who, now in the upper hand, cry out from their pulpits to defame the calls for equality in the system. It was the AAUW who put the call out originally to make the case for better equality control for girls, and now it is the AAUW making the case that no gender gap these days is a result of a girl-advantageous system they helped advocate for decades back. Their current point is very simple and not so surprising giving this turn of events: There is nothing wrong, we're making progress.

Of course, there's no reason to be "blaming" girls for their sucesses. A success in an educational policy is rare, but it depends on what your original goal was. If the original goal was the eliminated the gender gap, it's a failure, but if it was to improve the academic respect, motivation, and test scores of girls, then it was a success--a success with an inevitable downside that seems all too clear now in hindsight.

Recently, an Equal Opportunities Commission has made the argument that we ought to ignore the new gender gap, the new inequity, simply because they too fail to acknowledge the existence of it. They then carry on with vain statements about "increasing the performance of all children," but don't take any time to put any meat on those flimsy bones:

“The strategies recommended have been divisive and often counter-productive in terms of their emphasis on gender differences and give the impression that all that was needed was to treat the two sexes as separate, homogenous groups.”
First of all, the newsmedia never misses a beat pepping up this story to make it seem like this commission is saying "Stop Helping Boys," which of course is not what they're saying at all, but it's not the first time the media has reported on its own shameful page-turner practices.

Secondly, one commentor elloquently points out this obvious double-standard: "If girls underperform the system gets changed. If boys underperform they are told that they must change." The strategies to decrease gender inequality for school children seem to only apply when girls are being shortchanged, it seems. It's then easy for them to avoid this double-standard by not saying otherwise, but by simply not acknowledging the problem. Out of sight, out of mind, as far as feminist "progressive" politics is concerned.

The other side has their say as well:

Nick Gibb, the Tory schools spokesman, blamed 40 years of “progressive” teaching methods for the underachievement of boys, disadvantaged children and certain ethnic groups.
And the lesson learned today, class? This is what happens when education is used as a political weapon. We get back and forth bickering and tampering that serves no one any good in the long or short run, and unfortunately does nothing to decrease the size of the new gender gap. Hopefully these kids can stop this back and forth nonsence their parents were so entranced with provoking and get to actually working on "improving the education of ALL, at the expense of NONE" once and for all.