I have often found your views on youth liberation some of the most far-fetched of what you espouse.
13. The above overcompensating concern also extends into an anti's near-total lack of concern for many readily demonstrable threats to younger people's lives and emotional well-being that do not involve sexuality.
Let's put the "anti" out of the picture, and just talk about mainstream society's views on issues related to youth liberation, setting aside adult-child sex completely.
For instance, this is why you almost never see them even acknowledging youth liberationists' concerns for our society's reliance on the personal automobile -- responsible for by far the highest number of fatalities and serious injuries inflicted upon youths every year
So, just how common is the story of the teen who begs their parents not to drive them around so much but insists they would rather walk or stay home? Ring a bell? Not to me. People use automobiles because of convenience and make a trade-off for safety. Adults and kids both bear the costs and the benefits. Young male drivers are responsible for a huge proportion of auto fatalities. If youth liberationists had their way, younger teen males in great numbers would drive and increase fatalities even more. Surely you couldn't deprive any individual teen male of his liberty based on what other members of his class might do?
; parental neglect & abuse -- antis rarely want to even discuss the harm that many kids per year receive as a result of being confined to the insular nuclear family
Lots of adults lack emotional intelligence. Lots of them lead lives with a lot of stress. Children can be demanding and uncooperative and difficult as a natural part of childhood and adolescence. Bad things will happen, and it is really unfortunate. But it's a sure bet that if we only allowed couples to have children if they were pre-screened for emotional intelligence, economic well-being, patience in the face of stress and being nice people, world population would plummet fast. It would also be a grave violation of the most basic of human liberties.
So what is your remedy to this? What better environment is waiting outside of the nuclear family for children in not-so-great families? One barometer is how many foster families are available for troubled or special-needs children. I think the supply of high-quality situations is severely limited. I believe you have mentioned adolescents who petition the court for emancipation. I suspect such petitions should be granted more often than they are. It would be interesting to do an experiment and randomly divide borderline cases into emancipate-or-not groups and then follow them for ten years or more to see who has the better outcomes. Possibilities captured by such aphorisms as "the grass is always greener" and "out of the frying pan and into the fire" come to mind. But we wouldn't know until we tried, and it would be worth trying.
; the emotional and even physical abuse that so many kids endure every year by being compelled to attend the authoritarian schooling system with its rigidly hierarchical and heavily standardized regimen of "learning" that is actually based on the methodology of the Prussian military developed in the early 19th century;
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Of course schools could be vastly improved. Lots more money would help, among other things. Parents are free in most places (all?) to home school their kids. Private schools can form according to any progressive ideology they want.
or the forced denial of access to information at the discretion of parents and politicians that could potentially enable kids to learn about the world around them and thus make more informed choices.
What are you talking about? Kids can go to libraries; libraries have a wide range of books. Or are you saying that the powers-that-be have an obligation to hand them child-liberation manifestos? Or perhaps the Communist Manifesto? Yes, I would support more teaching of critical thinking, understanding how advertising works on your brain, sex education... but once again policy details.
This is why their claim that their primary goal is the well-being of kids overall does not stand up to serious objective scrutiny. Anything that may cause kids a lot of demonstrable harm on either a physical or emotional level (or both) that is not heavily disapproved of by society, which is arguably necessary for the status quo as-is to function properly ... is almost always given everything from only nominal displays of concern to a complete free pass.
Unpacking that convoluted prose, you're saying that society does heavily disapprove of lots of things that are harmful to kids. But there are others that are harmful that they don't take decisive action on. Some of it has to do with money -- preventing those harms could be very expensive. Other times you have an especially rosy view of human nature -- that kids would all be honorable and loving if only they weren't corrupted. Well, we all have the potential for both good and bad behavior, and schools like Summerhill were not an unqualified success. Lots of liberated youths would drink and drive and kill people, among other problems.
I can make a decent argument for children being controlled by adults until a certain age. It's a sort of apprenticeship model. Everyone serves for a while, and then everyone gets to be master. Summed over time, there is no inequality. Many cultures have an "honor-thy-parents" principle that actually serves the societies quite well. It certainly makes it more appealing to become parents than what our society does.
But our society is nothing like that. Children here have more freedom and autonomy than ever before. Surely if you hit someone else's kid or try to discipline them you risk big trouble. Parents who proudly proclaim how they don't spare the rod to the social services people won't keep their kids long, if those kids show up with bruises in school. There's this illusion of the past child of age 14 setting up their own business and becoming financially independent. Ha. I'm sure it happened, in economic boom times, but I can't imagine it was ever very common. Today we have fully liberated 18+ people who live in their parents' basements in large numbers.
Child liberationists call for complicated competency tests instead of age limits. I could see them as making sense in some cases, though the logic behind them could suggest denying privileges for such things as sex or voting or driving to many adults, and that's not a place many people want to go. It's also a bureaucratic nightmare.
The truth is that parents are more motivated more than anyone else to do well by their children, and are able to balance freedom and responsibility in line with the particular situation of particular children as they know them personally. Yes, they are far from perfect, and all too often make grave mistakes, but there is no better place to put that authority, all else being equal. It's often not clear the best thing to do, and a range of parental reactions will give rise to a range of results that may enrich society.
One thing that irritates me greatly about Child Liberation is how it is framed in terms of soaring principles -- children are now Enslaved and they deserve to be Free. And what does this freedom involve? Not the right of toddlers to cross the street when the whim strikes them. Maybe not the right of 6-year-olds to use heroin. No, there are still limits. Big limits. It comes down to the right to take competency tests instead of being judged by chronological age. The right for a more sympathetic hearing when they sue for emancipation. Those sound like policy details and nothing like a leap from Slave to Free.
Given human mortality, children are Us. If someone wants to have a life of fun and freedom and pleasure, having kids is a bad deal. People choose to have them because they fundamentally want part of themselves and their culture to go on. They want the best for them. If the last survivor of a couple wills their property to anyone but their kids it is considered strange.
When adults reach consensus that they were systematically mistreated as kids, they change society to protect their own kids. That's why teachers can't flog students any more. It's also getting harder to do sexual things to them against their will (and remember, we're all against that, right?)
So when we get around again to kids choosing to have sex, it's not a matter of grand principles of youth liberation, it's once again a matter of particular values and detailed policy decisions.