Thursday, May 22, 2008

On The Texas Decision

A Texas appeals court has ruled that the state of Texas had no right to seize the children of the polygamist sect, because the children represented in that suit were not in immediate danger of abuse:

Except for five girls who became pregnant between the ages of 15 and 17, "there was no evidence of any physical abuse or harm to any other child," and none of the five were among the children whose return was being sought by the mothers in the case, it said.

I agree with the decision, in the very narrow legal sense. But of course I disagree with the way abuse is defined as only physical one, and with the idea that it's perfectly acceptable to groom young girls to accept abuse until the moment of the abuse comes. I also wonder whether it really is true that the sect appeared to have an unusually small number of teenage boys, and if it is true, what happened to the missing boys. I would think abandoning them somewhere would constitute abuse.

The wider area of how to protect children against abuse and of what the role of the government, neighbors and so on is can be difficult terrain to explore. It could be argued that these children have suffered from the very act of seizing them and from being separated from their parents. On the other hand, all this, once again, depends on how abuse is defined, because returning a young girl to the people who are grooming her for marriage with a much older relative is abuse, too.

In general, I'm worried about any children who are brought up in isolation from the rest of the society. They may "stay safe" that way or "stay religious" or whatever, but their isolation also means that they cannot learn alternative ways of living and cannot get help if they indeed are abused.