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By Luc Loranhe (2005)
Many of the laws that are passed to presumably protect young people actually rather serve the purpose of controlling them.
This is especially true for laws that do not allow young people to work and earn money on their own. For young people who opt out of their biological families, the choices for earning money legally are so restricted that the only alternatives to returning home are theft, prostitution, and drug dealing.
Laws that prohibit youngsters to earn a living outside of their families thus are instruments of pressure in the hands of parents and the state.
The same is the case for laws that do not allow young people to legally enter into contracts on their own. Young people who opt out of their biological families cannot rent a house or apartment; they have nowhere to stay, and thus have no alternative to living on the streets.
Some young people have good parents, and others have bad parents. Good parents recognize that from puberty, young people have a great impulse for designing their own lives. Parents have to understand this, and they have to withdraw from the lives of their children who develop their own personalities.
The worst parents are those who enforce their decisions upon their children who are growing up, against the will of their children.
Many young people during and beyond puberty are inclined to run away. Often, this inclination is legitimate. The will of young people ought to be respected. It is not correct to dismiss their wishes for designing their lives by themselves, claiming that young people are immature.
The campaign of the US government against child prostitution is hypocritical. The US government (and the legislative branch which it controls) itself is partially responsible for child prostitution and youth crime in the US, as well as for the fact that many young people enter the drug trade. The US government and legislature are partially responsible because they have shut down so many other options for young people to earn a living and to be adults.
And through the NGOs that are aligned with the US government, and through which the US has great influence on other countries, either directly or indirectly through the UN, the same policies are exported to other countries, even those where traditionally, young people between 14 and 18 or between 16 and 18 were considered young adults, not children.
As the UN are located on US soil, American NGOs have an easy time, lobbying, and virtually controlling, UN branches that concern themselves with cultural or educational policies such as the UNESCO and UNICEF. Strict standards against young people below the age of 18 (who are uniformly defined as children) have originated at these UN bodies and other US-based international organizations in which, typically, feminists and Christian fundamentalists are strongly represented.
Only in the world of drugs, prostitution, and crime, count 15-year olds (and even 13-year olds) as fully emancipated members of a community. Everywhere else, they are just children.
My proposal that young people from the age of 14 are given more opportunities to earn money on their own (and to prove that they are adults) has been replied to with the remark that young people should first avail of an education before starting to work.
But this reply reflects an old-fashioned idea about education as something a young person obtains as a block, before entering the workforce.
By contrast, I believe that anybody should be given the opportunity to further his or her education until one's death. I advocate that people start working early, so they will have an opportunity to earn money (outside of the foul career options of prostitution, crime, and drug dealing).
But I do not mean that young people should work full-time, unless this is their clear wish. Young people should have the option of working part-time, and of furthering their education part-time.
Actually, I advocate such an approach not only for youngsters, but for virtually anybody (including myself; I am well beyond 50, and I am still enrolled in university courses).
Fortunately, there is an ever increasing number of "open" universities for which no formal prior education has to be proven, and more and more universities offer distance programs (though an "open" university with campus classes should be chosen in most cases).
My point is: much of youth crime has its origin in the fact that teenagers from the age of 14 are still considered children, and treated as children, while the one thing they really, really want to be, is: adults.
Give them genuine opportunities to earn money, and treat them as young adults, and you will be surprised to what extent they will start showing responsible behavior. The traditional laws of many countries other than the US reflected this assessment in that they conferred the status of being "adult" upon every teenager, no matter how young, if he or she entered into a marriage.
Of course, such traditions undermine the agenda of feminazis and Christian zealots who crusade to have any person under the age of 18 perceived and treated as child, no matter whether the age is 7 or 17. But the real concern of feminists and Christian zealots is not the welfare of people under 18.
For both feminazis and Christian zealots, to keep those who are not yet 18 under control, allows them to mold their characters and to convert them to their ideologies. This should be recognized for what it is: an egoistic interest to have offspring who reflect their parents' preferences.
It is futile to argue that per se, parents know what is best for their children. Fact is that some parents know what is good for their children, and others do not. While good parents will make wise suggestions as to what their growing up children should do (and this should be encouraged), young individuals should have more rights to decide on their own.
Even when some of the decisions young people may take seem wrong to their parents, they may in fact be much more appropriate for the world a younger generation lives in than the outmoded templates their parents believe in.
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Copyright Luc Loranhe