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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Society has stake in children’s upbringing

    During the 20th century remarkable strides were taken to insure the future of America’s children including several child welfare groups, lobbyists, laws for child labor restrictions and a general interest in youth. We have seen some movements take place before our eyes as modern testaments to the power of the younger generation: record turnout for both Democratic and Republican primaries to serve as a reminder of our investment in our futures, not to mention renewed investment in religion and international relations.

    The only problem that associates itself with the youth movement is whether or not our opinions are of our own design or whether the influence of previous generations overtakes any notion of change we might possess; in other words, are we capable of choosing our own path? Is this generation ready to take charge?

    There is, unfortunately, a lot of evidence to prove otherwise. Like it or not, we are still affected by how the youth is perceived and still have a lot of independence to claim as a generation. When we watch movies like “”Jesus Camp,”” the 2006 documentary about an evangelical Christian youth camp, and see 10-year-olds speaking in tongues, throwing themselves on the ground and weeping, and condemning Harry Potter to death, they wonder where the innocence of our nation’s children has gone. Later in the movie, when there’s a meeting to bless President Bush, an activist stance taken against abortion and a protest in Washington, D.C., audience members are faced with the dilemma of exactly who should hold the responsibility of the world’s future and who is to blame for its current state. In its entirety, you are left wondering what part of a human is unique and what is bred by experience.

    With pageant and soccer moms, fraternity and football dads, it is easy to take for granted that experiences with family, friends and enemies, not just activities and places, ultimately shape our choices; no relationship is more powerful than that between parent and child. The innocence of children is a relatively new concept, and up until the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, parents were content to use their children as extensions of their household in terms of work. In fact, the first real law against child abuse, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, was only passed 34 years ago. If for approximately 200 years in our nation’s history children could lawfully be physically used according to their parents’ wishes, what does that say about the emotional factor? Do parents have the right to control what children think?

    Parents do have that right to a certain degree. Raising them by the law of the country is a given; teaching a son or daughter not to steal or resort to violence is essential for the functioning of our society. Once you get past the obvious particulars, however, there is a vast gray area. By raising a child it is assumed that you would teach them the difference between right and wrong, and depending on whose right and wrong, that decision means a great deal. Assuming you were not religious, would you tell the parents of an child who attended “”Jesus Camp”” that teaching their child about God was wrong? Most likely not because it would be viewed as a personal decision. Would you tell them, however, that it would be wrong to teach their child that science is fabricated and creationism is true? And if you did, would it be because you truly felt it was bad parenting or because 10 to 15 years down the line these children would be deciding your future?

    The important thing to realize is that many adults are invested in “”our future”” because they want us to work according to their interests. To them, it is not selfish or deceitful purely because they view their interests as the right interests; what they pass down is what they believe is the truth.

    I am not taking the stance of conservative vs. liberal, rich vs. poor, right vs. wrong. What I am trying to point out is that we affect others based on how we were affected as children. With this knowledge I urge you to reflect on your decisions and think about what you have been through and who you have become.

    If you grew up in an emotionally unstable situation, is your lack of trust in others rational or unsubstantiated? If you were taught that men are superior to women, how has your lifestyle been influenced? Do you truly believe you are justified in your actions or are you living a life that is not yours?

    If you find yourself unchanged or unmoved by my argument, feel free to go on with your day. But if you end up seeing yourself less as an individual and more as a product of other people’s ideals, consider what you truly believe and how you are shaping the opinions of others right now.

    – Jessica Fraser is a freshman majoring in political science and journalism. She can be reached at

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