Category Archives: Parents Rights

Facebook: A Planned Attack

Did you know Facebook and a host of other social media sites were designed to mess with your mind? And not only your mind, but your kids minds! That’s not just some far-out theory. That comes straight from the mouth of Sean Parker, former president of Facebook. He admitted that the developers of Facebook and other social media sites recognized “a vulnerability in human psychology” and built the sites to take advantage of that weakness to get its users addicted.

Parker was speaking at an event sponsored by Axios, a news and information website founded by Politico, and was not hesitant in saying he and the team that launched Facebook tried to figure out “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?”

Thumb up . . . The consequences
They decided on a “social-validation feedback loop . . . exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with,” said Sean Parker. That means—and you know this—that users want people to “like” what they post. Give a thumb-up. And when they get “likes,” they want to post more so they get more “likes.” There are now more than two billion people liking each other. That sounds good, doesn’t it? We all want to be liked, and it’s better to like people than to hate people. Ah, and all the “friends” we have. This is wonderful!

However, Sean Parker continued with his admission of knowledge of the consequences of a website such as Facebook.

It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other. It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.

Think about that!

We did it anyway!
Sean Parker continued:

The inventors, creators—it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people—understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.

We need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you … more likes and comments.

The thought process that went into building these applications . . . was all about: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?”

Watch Tucker Carlson’s evaluation of Sean Parker’s comments about how social media is destroying both America and our kids.

Is this affecting your kids? Perhaps more than you realize. I recently read about a girl who told a friend she was unhappy because no one talked to her anymore. Her friend responded that she felt the same way. The sad, pathetic, irony of that interchange was that the two girls were sitting in the same room texting each other!

A former Facebook vice president for user growth, Chamath Palihapitiyahas, also turned his back on the medium he helped develop and expand. At a talk given at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, he said that he and the company’s founders “have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.” His own kids don’t have profiles on the social network. Palihapitiyahas admitted he feels “tremendous guilt” for the kind of impact Facebook has had on the world. His own kids are “not allowed to use this [expletive].”

What would Steve Jobs do?
Back when the first iPad was hitting the market, an Apple employee asked Steve Jobs what his kids thought about the tablet. Jobs said, “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.” The author of the book about Steve Jobs told that same person some homey details about life in the Jobs family. “Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things,” he said. “No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”

Some of the possible effects on young people spending a lot of time on the social media sites (at least four times a day) include:

  • Low self-esteem leading to poor health
  • Lower grades
  • Less time studying
  • Procrastination
  • Distraction
  • Poor time-management
  • Looking for a sense of “belongingness”
  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • Insomnia

You can read more about the consequences in a Forbes article dated June 30, 2017 titled “6 Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health.”

Kidshealth.org says 17% of teens say they’ve been contacted online by someone they didn’t know in a way that made them feel scared or uncomfortable, 30% say they’ve received online advertising that was inappropriate for their age, 39% admitted to lying about their age to gain access to websites. In addition, another study showed 9 out of 10 teens post photos of themselves online or use their real names on their profiles; 8 out of 10 reveal their birthdates and interests; and 7 out of 10 post their school name and the town where they live. Actions like this can make kids easy targets for online predators and others who might want to cause them harm.

Let me know if your kids use social media. If so, how much? What, if any, are your rules? Are you surprised at the confession of Sean Parker?

Parental Rights: Yes. But . . . (follow-up to blog post of November 6, 2017)

In my blog of November 6 I told you about an effort to add an amendment to the Constitution of the United States designed to provide parents with explicit rights concerning the upbringing of their children.

The Parental Rights Amendment was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Randy Hultgren (R-IL 14), the lead sponsor of the resolution, and joined by 15 original cosponsors when he submitted the Amendment. The Amendment has been numbered HJ Res. 121. The Senate version, SJ Res. 48, was introduced in August by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). So, impossible as a constitutional amendment seems, it appears to be moving along.

On the surface it seems like a good idea—parents should not be denied rights concerning their children. (Remember this paragraph from my previous post? “The claim is made that ‘Laws in a majority of states limit or entirely deny to parents any ‘right’ to be present on school grounds where their child is in attendance.’ Check out the status of parental rights laws in your state.”)

However, as the title of this blog says, “But . . .”

I read the Amendment, https://parentalrights.org/amendment/ along with the “Dig Deeper” sections, and emailed ParentalRights.org about a concern I had. I wondered if the right to choose your child’s education included sending them to a Muslim school that taught Sharia law. I want to share with you the email back-and-forth that ensued. In “Dig Deeper” under Section 3 it reads:

Whenever discriminating against speech on the basis of its content, the government “must show that its regulation is necessary to serve a compelling state interest and that it is narrowly drawn to achieve that end”), and invidious discrimination against religion (see Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc., v. Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 546 (1993): “To satisfy the commands of the First Amendment, a law restrictive of religious practice must advance ‘interests of the highest order’ and must be narrowly tailored in pursuit of those interests.” In all these cases, the government must prove that it has a compelling interest, before the fundamental freedom at stake can be limited.

(If you don’t understand this, you are not alone. Legalese is difficult.)

The answer I received from Maggie McKneely, Director of Administration and Development stated:

Section 3 is actually designed to ensure that the government can still get involved in the case of parents who are abusive. It does not address education. However, the amendment (specifically section 2) would make it so that if a school is promoting a faith that the parent does not want taught to their child, the parent has a right override the school’s curriculum. The education that a child receives will be ultimately up to the parent and not mandated by the government. Let me know if that doesn’t answer your question!

I replied:

Thanks, Maggie, for your quick response. But no, that doesn’t answer my question. Sharia law is in conflict with the laws of our state and federal governments. If it is taught to children in school as the law(s) that should be followed, it is teaching students to act in opposition to the laws of the United States. I don’t think that is a decision that should be left to parents. All children should be taught to conduct their lives in accordance with U.S. and local laws. It should not be a “parent’s right” to educate children in this country to act against our laws. Does your proposed amendment address my concern?

Apparently my question was now above Maggie’s pay-grade as my next response came from Michael Ramey, Deputy Director of ParentalRights.org. He said:

No, the Parental Rights Amendment will not prevent parents from teaching their children laws or teachings that may disagree with the laws of the United States. This freedom of religion is a fundamental freedom that already exists in the Bill of Rights, and we do not have any desire to overthrow this fbasic [sic] American value.

Consider that if the government has the power to prevent Muslim parents from teaching Sharia law (as a theory, knowledge, ideas), it also has the power to prevent Christian parents from teaching the Bible. The law of the land now includes homosexual marriage, yet countless Christians still teach their children that marriage is between one man and one woman. Do we want a Parental Rights Amendment that will prohibit those Christian parents from teaching that because “it is teaching students to act in opposition to the laws of the United States?”

What remains protected in our Amendment, however, is the children who could be harmed by those parts of Sharia law that call for abusive actions against the child. This is because the beliefs are one thing while actions are another. Parents can teach Sharia to their children, but if the child or parent acts in a way contrary to our laws, they can be prosecuted, and this especially applies to child abuse in the name of (any) religion. The Parental Rights Amendment preserves the current role of the State in preventing and prosecuting instances of child abuse or neglect.

I am sorry if this answer disappoints you, but I think if you will look at it from all angles you may come to recognize that this is the only balance that preserves our mutual American ideals.

Remember that what is “in conflict with our state and federal governments” can be changed with a simple majority vote of Congress (or your state legislature) at any time.

If the government can legislate all that people can learn, it can legislate what they think. And if it has the power to legislate away Muslim ideas, it has the power to legislate away Christian ideas, or atheist ideas, or pagan ideas, or whatever other ideas are out of favor under a given administration. We do not want our nation to operate that way, and I hope you don’t, either.

I truly appreciate Mr. Ramey’s long and considered answer. This alone creates in me an attitude that they are trying to do what they see as necessary and beneficial in establishing the rights of parents over the various areas of the lives of their children.

But . . .

Mr. Ramey’s comparison to parents’ right to send their children to a Jewish or Christian school where they would be taught principles of that religion is specious. First, how would the government know that Sharia law was taught only as a theory, knowledge, or idea, rather than the law that must be observed by all true Muslims? Sharia is in direct opposition to the laws of our country. They are incompatible. Would children in a Muslim school be taught that?

In comparison, our Constitution is based on Judeo-Christian principles. The Supreme Court ruling he referenced regarding marriage no longer being solely between one man and one woman does not preclude such a marriage, nor does it force marriages to be between other than one man and one woman. While Jews or Christians may not agree with the decision of the Supreme Court, they have the right to try to have it overturned, and they can still live their own lives in accordance with their own religious beliefs. This is far different than would happen if Sharia law were imposed on all people.

And just to clarify Mr. Ramey’s claim that “The law of the land now includes homosexual marriage,” same-sex marriage is not a law written and approved by Congress and signed by a president. As I stated above, it has been declared a fundamental right under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by the Supreme Court. It is a decision that can be reversed by a subsequent Supreme Court. “The law of the land” is a figure-of-speech for a matter that has been given approval by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Heritage Foundation in a report dated January 25, 2013 titled “The Constitutionality of Traditional Marriage” stated:

Because the institution of marriage is the principal manner in which society structures the critically important functions of procreation and the rearing of children, it has long been recognized as “one of the cornerstones of our civilized society.” The Supreme Court itself noted more than a century ago that “the union for life of one man and one woman” is “the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization.”

Keep in mind that the acknowledgement that “the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization” was overturned by only five people (the vote in favor of same-sex marriage was five Justices to four) out of a population of approximately 314 million.

This blog has gone on longer than I intended, but you need to know the background of my concern. Before going to the extreme of a Constitutional Amendment, we should all give the impact of such an action considerable thought. On the surface, it sounds like a really good idea to have parents in control their children’s lives, but the possible “unintended consequences” could be significant and far-reaching. If Muslim children were taught year after year that our country should be ruled by Sharia law (and how would that be known), soon those children who were so indoctrinated would be elected to positions of political power. How many generations would it take to overturn our Judeo-Christian principled laws and put Sharia in their stead?

Basically I believe what is contained in this proposed Amendment is good and helpful. But one overlooked principle could cause tremendous damage. What do you think? Pass this information on to your friends and ask them their opinion. Let me know. The time to investigate this amendment thoroughly, with all its ramifications, is now before the boulder starts its roll downhill and can’t be stopped.

Christians and K-12 education: A Comment on the Post of November 6, 2017 by Werner (Guest Writer)

The following was a comment made by one of this blog’s readers. It is so long and thoughtful I felt it deserved more attention than it might get just showing up as a comment. Both Werner and I welcome your responses.

A comment that I made on it [post of November 6, 2017 on this blog], got me to thinking that it would be really desirable for Christians to reflect seriously, and to engage in serious conversation with each other, about our role in K-12 education in our world, how we cam impact it, and how it impacts us and our children and grandchildren. I’m sure that many Christians are already thinking seriously about this, and that conversation about it takes place between believers now; but I’d like to add this thread as another venue (where all Christian viewpoints are welcome) where that conversation can take place.

Below, I’ve copied and pasted the comment I mentioned above, just to start the discussion. When time permits, I’d like to add some more thoughts to build on these; but since it’s already a long comment, I’ll stop with this for now. (My apologies to non-U.S. group members for the U.S.-centered focus of what follows; the original blog post was written in a U.S. context!)

The 9th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution specifies that the people “retain” the rights, recognized in common law, which are not enumerated elsewhere in the Constitution itself. This would include the right to procreate, and to direct the upbringing of one’s own children. This provides a sufficient Constitutional safeguard (to the extent that a written Constitution, which is not self-enforcing, can provide any safeguard) for protection of legitimate parental rights vis a vis both the state and Federal governments.

The problem doesn’t arise from any lack of Constitutional protection for parental rights. Rather, it arises from the creation (with the support of both establishment parties) of a legal culture which rejects the idea that written laws, including the Constitution, actually have any fixed lexical meaning that’s binding on either courts or other public officials. In this view, the Constitution and laws currently “mean” whatever judges and officials, with their august wisdom and virtue, determine that they properly “should” mean for the current situation. This legal culture is enabled to exercise jack-booted dominance over the judicial system and over law school education because the vast majority of the populace accepts it. And they accept it because their government school “education” left them both totally clueless about what the Constitution says and convinced that they could never possibly understand it and that it doesn’t matter anyway.

IMO, as long as this state of affairs prevails (and no, I don’t think we should supinely accept it as permanent!), a push for a constitutional amendment to protect parental rights more explicitly would be an unnecessary distraction. It’s important to realize that the process of amending the written Constitution is deliberately designed to require a broad social consensus that it’s a good idea. The Bill of Rights could be passed in the first place because, at that time, there was such a consensus that human beings do have inherent rights, and that these are important. No such consensus exists today. If they weren’t already in place, not one of the first ten amendments could be passed today.

What, then, should be the strategy of Christian and other parents who want to see their children brought up in a wholesome fashion? To the extent that we can contribute to public discourse and influence public policy, I think our long-term strategy should be to educate our fellow citizens in what the Constitution says and the beliefs about human rights that underlie it, and why these matter; and to promote the election and appointment of judges and other public officials who are committed in principle to the rule of written law and the protection of its safeguards.

In the immediate situation, though, I personally feel very strongly that the short-term strategy that would serve us best would be for every Christian parent who can afford to do so to enroll their kids in a Christian school, and for all of the rest to homeschool their kids. I’m painfully aware of the cost of this (my wife and I wound up homeschooling our three girls, starting back in the 90s). I’m also aware of the fundamental unfairness of having to do this while we’re at the same taxed to support the education of other kids in a de facto state religion of atheistic humanism that we don’t share. But that particular “establishment of religion” isn’t going to be dethroned without a long, hard fight, which won’t be won in time to make any difference for the kids who are of school age now; and God never gave us any promise that we could expect the heathen world to treat us fairly or decently. If it’s a fight that’s to be won at all, in time to make a difference in later generations, the education of the present rising generation in a context where they can actually be taught, among other things, about the U.S. Constitution and the tradition of democracy and human rights might contribute significantly to that victory.

Parental Rights: Do You Have Any?

ParentalRights.org is organizing a campaign to clarify this parental rights matter. They are trying to get an Amendment to the U. S. Constitution that will define parental rights. Here is a ParentalRights.org video you may find interesting. As it stands now, you may not have the right to make decisions for your child in many instances.

Let’s take a look at some defining court cases.

Did you know that your rights as a parent end when your kids go through the schoolhouse door? In the Fields v. Palmdale School District (PSD) lawsuit the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, in November 2005, decided that issue as regards sex education:

In summary, we hold that there is no free-standing fundamental right of parents “to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance with their personal and religious values and beliefs” . . . We conclude only that the parents are possessed of no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on that subject to their students in any forum or manner they select. (Emphasis added.)

That court also stated parents’ “fundamental right to control the education of their children is, at the least, substantially diminished.” (Please read Chapter Ten in Who’s Got Dibs on Your Kids? for more information on parental rights.)

Created by the Intellectual Freedom Committee 2005-2007, Association for Library Service to Children, a Division of the American Library Association

And in Troxel v. Granville (2000) the Supreme Court tossed a parental rights issue to individual judges and states to apply their own rules to parental rights. I find it astonishing that Justice Antonin Scalia determined that parents have no constitutionally protected rights whatsoever. Only Justice Thomas clearly stated that parental rights receive the same high legal standard of protection as other fundamental rights. However, even that statement is ambiguous because I can find no clear statement (although there may be such a statement that I haven’t found) of exactly what your “fundamental rights” as parents are.

The claim is made that “Laws in a majority of states limit or entirely deny to parents any ‘right’ to be present on school grounds where their child is in attendance.” Check out the status of parental rights laws in your state.

God’s commandments include one to children: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12 NIV). But Scripture also gives parents instructions: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

The Bible is full of blessings and admonitions regarding the responsibilities of both children and parents: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart” (Proverbs 3:1). “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” (Luke 11: 11-12). Is what is being taught in many public schools the equivalent of giving your child a snake or a scorpion?

Ask yourself if parents’ rights (and obligations as Christian parents) have been given over to the government, or taken from them by the government. If that has happened, is an amendment to our Constitution the best way to correct that?

I’ll be interested in hearing from you whether you think establishing parental rights by means of a Constitutional Amendment is a good idea.

Textbook Reviewers Wanted

Volunteer to read textbooks

It won’t come as a surprise to those of you who have read my book Who’s Got Dibs on Your Kids? or have been followers of my blog, but our kids’ textbooks are in real trouble. Some concerned people have been taking steps to correct this.

In Florida they formed the Florida Citizens’ Alliance, with the stated focus to “Stop Federal Overreach and Restore Our Individual Rights, Guaranteed Under The Constitution.” They were serious. They encouraged all residents of Collier County to attend a school board meeting in June stating: “THIS IS NOT A PARTISAN ISSUE. IT IS ABOUT OUR CHILDREN’S FUTURE, following  FLORIDA LAWS and  adopting FACTUAL, UNBIASED  TEXTBOOKS that are not used to indoctrinate our children. We need a large turnout and your collective voice to adopt ONLY the highest quality textbooks!”

Their efforts were not in vain. They played a big part in getting the Florida legislature to pass SR 989, requiring school districts to allow “a resident of a county to challenge the use or adoption of instructional materials; revising the requirements relating to the district school board process for objecting to or appealing the use or adoption of instructional materials; requiring a school district to discontinue use of materials under certain circumstances; requiring sufficient procedural protections for a public hearing relating to a challenge to the adoption of instructional materials; requiring a school district to provide access to school library materials upon written request” along with other changes in the existing law.

Similar laws are being passed in other states and The Report Card is looking for volunteers to read and review these textbooks. The Report Card has formed a partnership with Truth in Textbooks (TNT) (formerly known as Truth in Texas Textbooks TTT) founded by Lt. Col. Roy White, USAF Ret.

TNT is made up of volunteers, and has had great success conducting the necessary research and lobbying influence at local and state levels in eliminating or correcting many falsehoods found in the US History, World History, U.S. Government, and Geography textbooks. Publishers of textbooks reviewed by TNT include Pearson, Worldview, McGraw Hill, Discovery Education, Houghton Mifflin, Perfection, and Cengage. You’ll find their report on Social Studies Textbooks, Summary of Proclamation 2015 interesting reading. It is a PDF colored chart that gives the publisher, %TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills), their grade, and the criteria used for the evaluation. With only 50 volunteers in 2014, they identified more than 1500 errors in the proposed social studies textbooks. After studying the 469-page report and hearing testimony, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) eliminated or corrected more than 60% of the errors before the books were accepted for use in the classrooms. “As a result, over 5 million children have more accurate textbooks as a result of the work of Truth in Textbooks and their volunteers.”

Learn more about this program at The Report Card article “History, Social Studies Textbook Reviewers Wanted.” You can make a difference!