Most California parents are unaware of senator Richard Pan’s new bill that will seriously undermine parental rights. On its surface, SB18, or the Bill of Rights for Children and Youth in California enumerates a list of rights for children. A casual reading could lead one to think this bill is harmless and even beneficial, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Senator Pan is selling #SB18 to the public as a bill which will provide quality childcare and early education, as well as health and dental services to all California kids. If voters believe his sales pitch without digging a little deeper, they might find themselves supporting a bill that has the potential to dramatically change family dynamics in the state.
The most striking thing about this bill upon first reading is that it’s completely unnecessary and redundant, leading the curious mind to wonder why Senator Pan found it necessary to introduce the bill at all.
Children are already well protected in California. It’s currently illegal to assault or otherwise injure a child. You can’t harm them in any way, and you certainly can’t have them in a filthy home. Child Protective Services won’t hesitate to remove a child from a roach infested house with large butcher knives on the floor and cocaine on the table.
You’re already required to educate your child in California. The California Supreme Court declared education a fundamental right in the 70’s with Serrano v. Priest I & II.
Want to lock your kid in a closet and deprive them of normal social development? No can do. Try it, and your kid will be placed in foster care quicker than you can write a bill removing all significant parental rights.
Medical negligence? You guessed it. That’s already a no no here in the Golden State.
Since there doesn’t seem to be a reason for this bill, one can’t help but wonder what is Senator Pan up to. If he wants to offer free universal preschool to all kids, why doesn’t he just propose a bill for that? If he wants to provide healthcare to all kids, why doesn’t he just propose a bill making regular pediatrician and dentist visits free to underprivileged kids? The short answer is that there’s more to meets the eye with #SB18.
On a very basic level, this bill is fundamentally flawed. SB18 attempts to codify children’s rights, and in doing so it significantly diminishes parental rights. Some may say that a child’s rights are more important than a parent’s rights, but this is a misunderstanding of why parental rights exist.
There are no children’s rights without parental rights. Let me explain. Since children cannot make their own decisions and are not yet able to protect their rights; someone else must do this for them. There are two possible systems. The first one is the system we currently have, where parents make the important decisions for their children like what type of healthcare they will receive, and what type of education they should have. The other possible system would be one in which the government makes these decisions instead of parents.
Neither system will be perfect. Both will lead so a small percentage of children being underserved. But which system is best? Is it logical to have the government making important decisions for thousands of children, or does it make more sense for parents to make those decisions?
Which system will lead to a greater number of children being better served? It only stands to reason that the people closest to a child, who love them and know them best, are the ideal decision makers for that child. It is not in a child’s best interest to have perfect strangers make decisions for him or her, therefore it is essential that parents maintain their parental rights in order to protect their children.
Parental rights are children’s rights. You cannot have children’s rights without protecting parental rights because it is the parents who protect children. SB18 removes the parents as decision makers for the really important decisions that families face.
Even if you thought it was a better idea to have the government make important decisions for children, you may be concerned that SB18 doesn’t attempt to define any of the rights it lists.
#SB18 asks the public to support a law with sweeping statements without knowing any of the details.
Parents are left to cross their fingers and hope that they will agree with politicians in Sacramento on the definition of such important rights as the right to a healthy environment, social and emotional well-being, as well as the right to optimal cognitive, physical, and social development.
Since this bill is so vague, it’s important to take a closer look and consider some possible scenarios.
(1) The right to parents, guardians, or caregivers who act in their best interest.
Item number one sets the stage for what follows. It asserts that children have the right to have parents, guardians, or caregivers who act in their best interest. It follows that if parents don’t honor the rights that are listed next, then they aren’t acting in their child’s best interest. There are many examples of why this is an illogical and dangerous conclusion.
(2) The right to form healthy attachments with adults responsible for their care and well-being.
The next item states that children have the right to form healthy attachments with adults responsible for their care and well-being. It’s easy to put something like that in writing, because it sounds good, but it’s also very easy to think of scenarios where this could seriously undermine parental rights and harm children.
Take for example the teenage experience. It’s not uncommon for teenagers to be at odds with their parents, feeling like they aren’t understood or respected. If many of these young people were interviewed by a social worker, or a school counselor, those “experts” may come to the conclusion that the child doesn’t have a healthy attachment with the adults responsible for their care and well-being. What then? What happens? Unfortunately, SB18 doesn’t give us any clue as to what happens if a school counselor concludes that a child’s rights are being infringed upon. Will the parents be required to attend parenting classes against their will? Will the children be removed from the home?
(3) The right to live in a safe and healthy environment.
But what if their home truly isn’t safe? The next item on the list states that children have the right to live in a safe and healthy environment. Of course we must first define what safe and healthy means. Since Senator Pan doesn’t think it’s necessary to share his definition with California parents, we must take the time to think about some possible interpretations.
Take guns for example A great many people would consider guns in the home to be anything but safe even if they are kept under lock and key. Would SB18 be used to infringe upon a parent’s constitutional right to own a gun? Would the home be deemed unsafe, and the parents either required to get rid of their gun or risk losing their children? These are important considerations and are left unaddressed in this bill. More on this here.
(4) The right to social and emotional well-being.
Next is the right to social and emotional well-being. You couldn’t get much more murky and vague than that. What does this mean, and why doesn’t Senator Pan find it necessary to define this in his bill? And how is this at all related to providing free preschool and medical care? You’d be hard pressed to find two parents who would agree on the details of what constitutes social and emotional well-being, so how can we possibly feel comfortable that a panel of “experts” is going to make decisions in this area that all, or even most parents can agree with?
A child’s right to social and emotional well-being could be used to force a parent of a child with ADHD into following a particular treatment plan.
Imagine psychiatrist A diagnoses the child with ADHD and wants to prescribe medication, but psychiatrist B says the child is borderline and isn’t comfortable giving a diagnosis or prescribing medication. She wants to try dietary and lifestyle measures with the child first, and the parents agree with psychiatrist B.
The child’s teacher on the other hand has 30 kids to deal with, and one hyper kid who could be easily calmed down with medication is unacceptable. She insists that the child needs medication and presses the matter with the school counselor.
The school counselor points to a new law that says the child has a right to emotional and social well-being, and argues that depriving the child of medication is negatively affecting his social life and emotional well-being. What would the consequence be in this scenario? Would the child be referred to social services, and the parents monitored to ensure he receives medication? What would happen if the parents refused medication?
(5) The right to opportunities to attain optimal cognitive, physical, and social development.
Senator Pan also asserts that children have a right to attain optimal cognitive, physical, and social development. Some of these rights start to overlap and blur a bit, but let’s take a closer look at the right to attain optimal cognitive development. Again, this right isn’t defined in the bill, so voters are asked for their support without really being told what they’re supporting.
Having the opportunity to obtain optimal cognitive development sounds perfectly reasonable, but think of how good parents everywhere disagree on what optimal cognitive development means.
Some parents show their babies flashcards to teach them to read early, others strongly believe their children should be older before introducing academics. And guess what? Both methods work. The truth of the matter is there is a large gray area that no panel of experts can give a definitive answer to, that another panel of experts won’t disagree with. The real question is who will be on Senator Pan’s panel of experts?
And what of the right to attain optimal physical development? This one seems like it comes straight out of some bizarre futuristic novel. Will all kids be expected to have a specific height and weight? How will the state determine what is optimal? Will overweight kids be sent to mandatory fat camps in the summer? Will they be required to lose weight under the threat of being removed from their homes? The questions just keep piling up, and unfortunately there aren’t any answers.
(6) The right to appropriate, quality education and life skills leading to self-sufficiency in adulthood.
Next on the list is the right to appropriate, quality education and life skills leading to self-sufficiency in adulthood. Currently it is the parent’s responsibility to ensure that a child receives a proper education, and the parents must first decide on what a proper education means to them. With #SB18, the state will define what an appropriate and quality education is, relieving parents of a cherished responsibility.
But which type of education will the state approve of?
It’s certain that public schools will get a passing grade, so let’s consider some other educational options. Waldorf schools are popular among techies and Hollywood’s elite. These schools have a very unique approach to education, focusing heavily on art and discouraging academics in the early years. Will they be considered an acceptable educational model? Sure Waldorf devotees will say yes, but will Senator Pan’s panel of experts agree?
There are also countless other private school options. Will they be required to follow state approved curriculum? What about homeschooling? Will that be considered appropriate, quality education?
The Secretary of Education at the U.S. Department of Education, John King doesn’t think so. He claimed that most homeschoolers aren’t “getting the range of options that are good for all kids,” nor are they getting the “rapid instructional experience that they would get in school.” Never mind that homeschool kids typically score 15 to 30 percentile points higher than their public school peers on standardized tests. And African American students do especially well in a home environment scoring 23 to 42 percentile points above African American kids in public schools.
Certainly the Secretary of Education would be considered an expert, and even he is biased against the facts. If the Secretary of Education can’t see that homeschool is a great option for some kids, then parents have no reason to believe government bureaucrats will be any better.
So who’s right? If you wouldn’t send your kid to the local public school, does that make a parent who does a bad parent? If you wouldn’t send your child to a Waldorf school, is the parent who chooses this option somehow infringing upon their child’s rights? If good parents can’t agree on what a quality education is, how can we expect to agree with Senator Pan’s panel of experts?
(7) The right to appropriate, quality health care.
The last, and possibly most significant right, is the right to appropriate, quality health care. Senator Pan says that he simply wants to make pediatrician and dental checkups accessible to all children. If that’s all he wanted to do, then it seems like he could simply introduce a bill that would make this possible. California is quite a liberal state after all, so one can imagine that a bill of this nature would be easily passed. So why the need to create a bill stating that children have a right to appropriate, quality health care?
The simple answer is there’s more to it than Pan would have us believe. Since SB18 is written so vaguely and broadly, we must assume that a there could be a great many possible outcomes should it become law.
Have you ever asked for a 2nd opinion regarding a diagnosis for either yourself or your child? Most people consider this to be a basic right, but with children, it really isn’t. A great many people have had Child Protective Services called on them simply for asking for a 2nd opinion.
A quick Google search will prove just how common this really is. In comes #SB18 stating that children have a right to appropriate, quality health care. Now health care providers can point to this law when they call Child Protective Services on parents making it even easier to remove children from loving families. If Senator Pan has his way, the state will decide for us what quality health care looks like, so the right to a 2nd opinion may be come an outdated concept anyhow.
Some have rightly pointed out that there is no language in the bill stating that children will be removed from homes if their rights are infringed upon. This isn’t too reassuring. If a child’s rights are being trampled, wouldn’t there be pretty serious consequences for that?
You may also wonder how California could possibly hope to enforce this bill should it become law. Wouldn’t it be incredibly expensive? Maybe you have your doubts that a government could replace the parents as the primary authority, and find a way to fund the venture. Look no further than Scotland, where every child is assigned a social worker at birth to micromanage every family in the country.
That’s where we’re headed with #SB18. If you don’t like the direction this bill takes our state and possibly our country, I suggest your contact your representatives.
SB18 is unnecessary at best, and at worst, it strips parents of their rights and responsibilities putting children at risk. It’s a short read, so please take a few minutes to look it over here.
Then contact your representatives to let them know where you stand. Don’t know who they are? You can find out here. It’s going to take thousands of parents to speak up to defeat this bill, so every phone call and letter is essential if we hope to retain our parental rights and protect our children.
Finally join this FB group SB18 – CA Children’s Bill of Rights Take Down to help other concerned parents in California who want to stop this bill.
Note on these memes. These memes were made by individuals passionate about stopping #SB18. Please share them and help our cause.
About the Author
Monica Sokoloski is a California resident and homeschooling mom who is passionate about protecting children and her parental rights. You can follow her homeschooling YouTube Channel by clicking here.