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Maxim Institute - real issues - No. 119

Maxim Institute - real issues - No. 119


* Failing our innocents

* Home-schooling parents' efforts rewarded

* Looking at language: "liberal"

* Hawkes Bay Change Agent Workshop

Failing our innocents

This week CYF announced that there were 43, 414 reported cases of child abuse in New Zealand last year; up 31% on the year before that. This statistic is too personal to ignore, as are the faces of the children on our TV screens who have been abused or murdered. According to a September 2003 UNICEF report, New Zealand's rate of child deaths from maltreatment is now 1.2 per 100 000, more than 4 times the first world average. Why are so many New Zealand children at risk of abuse, missing out on the love and protection they deserve? Doubtless the reasons are varied and complicated, but is it any coincidence that in the decades during which legislation has increasingly made light of marriage, we have also seen a sharp decline in the welfare of our children? Consider this:

* Children who live with their mother and her co-habiting boyfriend are 33 times more likely to suffer abuse than those whose parents are married and living together. They are 73 times more likely to die from abuse. [i]

* In the United Kingdom, children living in solo-mother homes are 14 times more likely to be abused than children living with married biological parents. Children living with at least one step-parent are six times more likely to be abused. [ii] We could blame CYF for failing to do their job. But who is firstly responsible for children: their parents or a government agency? To be fair to CYF, the best state-provided resources cannot substitute for what children need: committed and loving parents. While good government responds to the needs of children, it is the relational environments in which they live that matter most. In light of these figures, we would be wise to consider as a society, whether our deliberate devaluing of marriage is contributing to this alarming increase in family dysfunction and child abuse.

[i] R. Whelan, Broken Homes and Battered Children, 1994. [ii] P. F. Fagan and D. B. Hanks, "The Child Abuse Crisis: The Disintegration of Marriage, Family and the American Community", Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1115, May 15, 1997.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=119.1

Home-schooling parents' efforts rewarded
Two weeks ago Real Issues reported home-schoolers concerns over a new Ministry of Education form: Application for Exemption from Enrolment at a Registered school. The Ministry of Education said the application form was simply a tweaking of previous forms, but parents who home school were concerned the form expressed a desire for more control over what parents actually do. They were also concerned with the lack of consultation over changes they regarded as considerable.

Home-schooling parents sent the Ministry of Education between 250 and 500 emails stating their concerns and asking for greater consultation. To their credit the Ministry has responded with a revised draft of the form, which Craig Smith, National director of the Home Education Foundation says is much friendlier to parents, although the major areas of concern with the original document remain. The Ministry has also sought more consultation, requesting responses to the new form from Home-schooling groups by 27 August.

Moves by the Ministry of Education to consult parents should be applauded. Parents know what is best for their children. The Ministry's response to the lobbying of parents also shows the impact concerned and motivated New Zealanders can have on government policies impacting them and their families.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=119.2

Looking at language: "liberal"
"Liberal" is a very confusing term in modern debate because it is claimed by people from a variety of different political persuasions. The "liberal left", for example, is not to be confused with the "liberal right", sometimes known as "libertarians" or "classic liberals." No group can lay sole claim to the word, but it is interesting how it has appeared in so many contexts.

"Liberal" has its origins in the political movements of late 18th and early 19th century Western Europe, particularly the French revolutionaries, and the English Whig reformers.

These "liberals" wanted freedom, but in modern politics, the term has become confused because of differences in opinion as to what real freedom is. Liberals from the political "right" see freedom as the ability of every citizen to make many choices, with the proviso that each citizen lives with the full consequences of their decisions, so the role of government in a "free" society is not to regulate citizens' lives too much. At its worst, this philosophy can adopt a "hard luck" or "blame the victim" approach to genuine misfortune in people's lives.

Liberals from the "left", however, argue that the consequences of many choices stop people from making them, so the role of government is to cushion citizens from the impact of undesirable outcomes. At its most extreme, this view demands that every citizen, regardless of the lifestyle choices that they make, experience exactly the same outcomes.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=119.3

Hawkes Bay Change Agents workshop
Last week there was a great turn-out to the Voice Waikato public meeting. There is a growing concern about the direction of policy and culture in New Zealand and increasing numbers of people are keen to make a difference. The next Change Agent Workshop will be held in the Hawkes Bay, Monday 26 July. The Workshop will address current issues such as civil unions, education, prostitution and political correctness, and provide practical tips on how to effectively engage in processes of public policy and debate. For time and venue details see http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/whatson_page/whatson.html

Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.

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