Where Will the First Case of Child Abuse for Serving “Dangerous” Food Originate?
When I wrote about the case of parents suing Minnesota farmer Michael Hartmann in connection with their child’s alleged illness from raw milk, and the judge's suggestion the parents might bear some responsibility for their child’s illness, I assumed the judge's intent was to reduce the potential responsibility ascribed to Hartmann. But alas, as Ron Klein reminds us in comments following the previous post, our legal system doesn’t necessarily work in such logical ways. More often than not, the idea is to ascribe blame.
So while our legal system has always provided an opening for the state to intervene to “protect” children, it’s only in recent years that the system is being slanted so aggressively this way.
Increasingly, the tenor of interactions between public officials and parents is that the government is in charge, and that parents are “guilty until proven innocent” rather than the other way around. There is a very moving four-minute film about a Detroit mom who ran into the buzz saw of that tenor when she resisted allowing her daughter to be given psychotropic drugs, and the State brought in the troops.
As Ron Klein reports, there are reasonably intelligent people among the legal profession who say that mothers should be held accountable for possible abuse charges if they feed their children raw milk. But what if they feed them junk food? Interestingly, our legal and social systems may well be moving in a direction of holding parents accountable for that as well. Schools around the country are implementing strict rules prohibiting junk foods in school lunches and vending machines. The Massachusetts legislature just passed a special exemption to such strict rules to allow PTAs and other parent groups to be able to conduct bake sales in schools.
Some schools are even prohibiting sugary food in lunches and snacks children bring from home. I heard a story from someone I know of a child’s jelly sandwich being confiscated in a private school because it was considered to be a sweet dessert, and sweet desserts weren’t allowed in the school.
Confiscation of private food considered to be unsafe. Sound familiar? In such an atmosphere, charges of abuse aren’t that far down the road.
In the meantime, regulators continue to add new rules and regulations, presumably to ensnare more people as criminals. The latest is Wyoming, which is seeking to restrict cow shares, require licenses for even the smallest producers to sell eggs to restaurants, and make illegal sale of bagged leafy greens at farmers market.
It’s not that difficult to imagine parents being hauled in on abuse charges for two very different situations. In one, parents are serving raw milk and a child becomes ill. In another, parents are serving lots of sugary junk food and a child becomes obese and diabetic.
It’s such a slippery slope, so beyond the experience of most of us, that it’s difficult to know what to make of such possibilities. But in our current atmosphere of fear mongering, assigning blame, and State control, the visions may not be as bizarre as one would imagine.