Children Are Not Citizens

Other than enemy combatants, there is one other group of people who have absolutely little if any rights under US Law: namely children. Every year it seems there is a new group of adults that are championing to protect children, much in the same way Kyle’s mom on South Park spends all her time trying to protect Kyle from everything she feels is wrong. It is these initiatives that have brought us child seat belt laws, drunk driving laws, and of course the ever popular sex laws that are meant to prosecute child sex offenders. Except that no one ever thinks about how these laws can backfire and hurt the very children that they are aimed to protect. A good example is the 13 year old Utah girl who under the law is both victim and violator.

The Ogden, Utah, girl was put in this odd position because she was found guilty of violating a state law that prohibits sex with someone under age 14. She also was the victim in the case against her boyfriend, who was found guilty of the same violation by engaging in sexual activity with her.

In this case the law is intended to protect children regardless of whether the child agrees to press charges. While the Utah girl does not see herself as a victim, she has no say in the matter, because to the law her opinions or intentions do not matter, all that matters are the interests of the State. The child in fact belongs to the state, and so the state decides for her. Ultimately she has no recognized rights in the matter.

Here in Iowa, a law that forced known sex offenders from living within close proximity of schools and daycares was suppose to make it safer for children, but instead it ended up making it easier for sex offenders to disappear. Police and other authorities are now having a hard time trying to find them. In worse cases, as the offenders went off the grid, they ended up finding secluded residences that made it that much easier for them to commit the very crimes the law is meant to prevent against!

The main point of child laws though is to help children, but until we actually give children some actual rights under the law, we will end up making laws that harm the very children we aim to protect. Consider the irony that people who commit crimes against children and who are prosecuted, still end up having more rights than their victims.