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The protection of children and society.

category national | crime and justice | opinion/analysis author Friday October 19, 2012 12:40author by Gale Vogel - Birds Eye View Report this post to the editors

Constitutional amendment and enforcement.

Children have been protected in our constitution. Protecting our young is reflected in how our laws are enforced and not only in our legislation. The topic is symptomatic of our society today and is reflected in other areas too and how we all consider one another.

Children have been protected in our constitution, with a caveat that the rights of the child are to have parents and the right of the parents are to protect their children. The state have since 1937 maintained the right to take the responsibility as parents where the parents have failed. This protection in the past has been delegated to religious institutions with infamous consequences. Slavery and abuse have been extensively reported as being the result of this delegation of the states responsibility. The wording of the constitution is proposed to be changed, and while it may indeed be improved wording, the protection failure in the past has been due to inappropriate or absent enforcement. Like much legislation, we should consider whether merely adding or changing laws will result in any improvement if enforcement is either of poor quality or absent.

Protecting our young is reflected in how our laws are enforced. Graham Griffiths violently and sexually attacked a teenage girl, admitted the wrong doing and was prescribed a suspended sentence and a bill. By being ordered to pay to the still suffering victim who at the time was 17 years old, a sum of €15,000 together with other conditions his name would not be placed on the sex offenders register due to there being imposed no custodial sentence. Judge Nolan considers it reasonable to make this an example of how we in Ireland care for our young while preparing for a referendum to change the wording of our Constitution. Judge Nolan is quoted as saying in a previous trial dated in March of this year, “it gives me no joy at all to sentence a decent man”. This was for the misrepresentation of a health food for tax purposes. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/0309/....html

Perhaps Judge Nolan is equally lacking in joy in setting free a man with the violent tendencies of Graham Griffiths. Though suffering from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and being under the influence of drugs at the time, he has also prior convictions for violence. http://www.independent.ie/national-news/courts/man-who-....html

Griffiths did however express regret. Anthony Lyons initially pleaded not guilty to a similar attack but nevertheless had most of this sentence suspended, again with a bill and other conditions. This is of course confirmation of an overall trend, where money is the prime dictator. It however in light of our pending referendum is also an indication of our true will where we can take and be billed later. Do we tolerate this? Protective incarceration is both for the protection of those free in society and the perpetrators alike. Once we begin putting a monetary value of crime, or on people we are stooping and degrading ourselves.

Society is increasingly accepting only a machine and rejecting the very people.


author by serfpublication date Fri Oct 19, 2012 15:26Report this post to the editors

There is little point in all the fuss being made about putting more unenforced platitudes into the constitution.

All this is just a cheap cynical distraction to try and make politicians seem like they care about the children of the great unwashed. They don't.

The hard facts say different. Austerity is doing real harm every day to the lives of children and creating intolerable financial stresses in their families and in their homes. And when they get sick, they can't get the care they should thanks to healthcare cuts.

What use are meaningless words when you don't have clothing, food, education, healthcare and a proper roof over your head? No use that's what!

Meanwhile those harvested billions from our public services and local economy are still being handed over to banksters, without a murmur.

And the banks are killing all the small businesses by not loaning to them despite all the money they have been given. Because loaning money to small businesses is no longer their business model.

You have to wonder why they gave it all to banks and not directly to the people, yet still call it a "bailout"
Giving it directly to the people would have saved the local economy and allowed people to buy things they need and pay off their mortgages. And it would have improved the daily lives of children in a real way.

author by Perri Fowlerpublication date Tue Oct 30, 2012 09:32Report this post to the editors

I've read the Constitution and the propsoed changes and can see no real difference in meaning , only words.

author by Gale Vogel - Birds Eye Viewpublication date Tue Oct 30, 2012 13:31Report this post to the editors

What is the costs of the current referendum? Poster campaign, press conferences, posted leaflets, television and radio interviews are all costly. Were there an obvious benefit this would be reasonable, however it appears that the Government is merely paying lip service to a promise to protect our young. The wording of the existing Constitution relating to children is:

Article 42
1. The State acknowledges that the primary and natural educator of the child is the Family and guarantees to respect the inalienable right and duty of parents to provide, according to their means, for the religious and moral, intellectual, physical and social education of their children.
2. Parents shall be free to provide this education in their homes or in private schools or in schools recognised or established by the State.
3. 1° The State shall not oblige parents in violation of their conscience and lawful preference to send their children to schools established by the State, or to any particular type of school designated by the State.
2° The State shall, however, as guardian of the common good, require in view of actual conditions that the children receive a certain minimum education, moral, intellectual and social.
4. The State shall provide for free primary education and shall endeavour to supplement and give reasonable aid to private and corporate educational initiative, and, when the public good requires it, provide other educational facilities or institutions with due regard, however, for the rights of parents, especially in the matter of religious and moral formation.
5. In exceptional cases, where the parents for physical or moral reasons fail in their duty towards their children, the State as guardian of the common good, by appropriate means shall endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child.

((b) section 5 of Article 42 of the English text shall be repealed;)
The only part being removed is being replaced with the wording of the amendment. As existing and additional to the above Article 42, Articles 40 and 41 also refer to the rights of all citizens, this includes children.

Personal Rights
Article 40
1. All citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law.
This shall not be held to mean that the State shall not in its enactments have due regard to differences of capacity, physical and moral, and of social function.
3. 1° The State guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate the personal rights of the citizen.
2° The State shall, in particular, by its laws protect as best it may from unjust attack and, in the case of injustice done, vindicate the life, person, good name, and property rights of every citizen.
5. The dwelling of every citizen is inviolable and shall not be forcibly entered save in accordance with law.
The Family
Article 41
1° The State recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.
2° The State, therefore, guarantees to protect the Family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State.

Below is the proposed amendment.

Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution

Article 42A
1 The State recognises and affirms the natural and imprescriptible rights of all children and shall, as far a practicable, by its laws protect and vindicate those rights.
2 1 In exceptional cases, where the parents, regardless of their marital status, fail in their duty towards their children to such extent that the safety or welfare of any of their children is likely to be prejudicially affected, the State as guardian of the common good shall, by proportionate means as provided by law, endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child.

The above articles, 42A 1 and 2 reiterate that of the original constitution and that being repealed.

2 Provision shall be made by law for the adoption of any child where the parents have failed for such a period of time as may be prescribed by law in their duty towards the child and where the best interests of the child so require.
3 Provision shall be made by law for the voluntary placement for adoption and the adoption of any child.
4 1 Provision shall be made by law that in the resolution of all proceedings—
i brought by the State, as guardian of the common good, for the purpose of preventing the safety and welfare of any child from being prejudicially affected, or
ii concerning the adoption, guardianship or custody of, or access to, any child, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.
2 Provision shall be made by law for securing, as far as practicable, that in all proceedings referred to in subsection 1of this section in respect of any child who is capable of forming his or her own views, the views of the child shall be ascertained and given due weight having regard to the age and maturity of the child.

An additional reference to adoption, being subject to the law makes clearer the possibilities, though with regard to the legal basis in Ireland already in force through court orders, makes no clear addition to the Constitution. It prescribes a basis on which courts may decide individual cases but appears in fact to confer no additional powers than already exist. It is very clear that the power rests in the enforcement of legislation and that noted absence of such ill enforcement or lack of enforcement in the past appears not to have been addressed. Provision is being made, or action by proportionate means with no to clear obligation on authorities to enforce or even investigate reports of wrongdoing or neglect. This changes nothing in practical terms. In fact, the law has been proactive in enforcement with regard to the latest type of child abuse, the internet.

The recent tragic death of a thirteen year old girl is only the latest in the effects of a crime that is difficult to control. Often the traditional controls associated with parents and schools are ineffective. Internet bullying and abuse through sites such as 'ask.fm' is highly disturbing. However, there is hope since the precedent set in Dundalk District Court some years ago, where a 27 year old man was charged under Section 13 (1) of the Post Office Amendment Act 1951, for sending offensive or indecent material by means of telecommunications. This is a clear case of existing acts being used in a modern case that could not have been envisaged what the act was penned. No custodial sentence was passed though a payment was enforced. The Gardaí are investigating the recent tragic case, it would be hoped that in order to best protect our children that the bullies in this case and similar cases would be brought to justice. There is no law preventing charges being brought. There is an onus through our existing constitution where the state 'guarantees' to protect 'in its laws' the 'personal rights of the citizen'. The operative word that may have been changed in this constitution could have related to 'laws'. Where the laws exist, there has been an absence in guaranteeing those same rights through action and enforcement. Perhaps the word 'laws' could have been replaced with 'actions'. Article 40, 3. 1° could then read “The State guarantees in its actions to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its actions based on its laws to defend and vindicate the personal rights of the citizen, to include children”. The noted cases may well prove the intent of our authorities to so do. In the meanwhile, the best chance that our children might have is through the attention and action of their own parents. Be informed of the dangers. Turn the TV off, turn the computer off, talk and listen.


While the wording has changed and apparently affords more opportunities for the authorities to act, it is a very small concession being made for the protection of our children and our future above that already in writing, though not always in force. Any amendment that improves the interpretation or the opportunity for our courts to act is perhaps wisely adopted. We have it would appear again failed out young through promises being kept only for appearance purposes.

Related Link: http://www.internetsafety.ie/website/ois/oisweb.nsf/pag...s.pdf
author by serfpublication date Thu Nov 01, 2012 18:04Report this post to the editors

If parents were not too busy to talk to their children they might know what is actually going on in their lives.

If they are not prepared to spend time with them then they should not have children. Period!

Children are not just a "necessary accessory" to show people you are progressing in your life. They are people.

Blaming a website or the internet for that child suicide is like blaming the bathtub or water supply infrastructure when a child occasionally drowns at home. It's all "we need to redesign the water supply infrastructure" rather than "where was the parent and what the hell were they thinking??"

The real problem here is shit parenting. Everyone is always trying to pass the buck in this country. It's time we stopped doing this and started to take some responsibility.

If you don't spend time with your kids and communicate with them, then if they start having problems, you are partially responsible for not being there to nip it in the bud.

surveilling, blocking and controlling internet sites will not solve these kinds of problems. Better parenting will. But it gives government a great excuse to ramp up the next stage of their surveillance plans under the usual cloak of "saving the children"

There is nothing the government would like more than to be given carte blanche to set up full blown internet website blocking lists as other countries have done, whilst pretending to "save the children".

But we all know that what's really needed here is compulsory rigorous parenting and communication courses!!

author by nonparentpublication date Fri Nov 02, 2012 06:56Report this post to the editors

Well said about shit parenting being a major cause of bad mannered children making life difficult for others. Sometimes I'd like adults to just get rid of their TV sets and listen to magazine programmes on radio instead. It's easier to shut off the radio when silence is required, and parents want to talk to their children. I'm all for indoor games like draughts, snakes & ladders, and chinese chequers, played by children and their parents. (Penny poker card games can come on holidays when the kids are teens.)

As for this wasteful referendum: I'm not going to vote for a change that will allow more power to the state. The lazy thoughtless state that failed to protect children in institutional care, that currently fails to protect old folks in institutional care. I won't facilitate the granting of more power to state servants like school attendance officers and social services workers.

author by serfpublication date Fri Nov 02, 2012 19:52Report this post to the editors

that was not really my point at all.

My point was about blaming the internet for a child suicide then using this emotional issue as a cynical excuse to push intrusive and censoring policies on internet use when the real responsibility for such occurrences is shit parenting and a complete lack of communication with children by their parents.

But in Ireland we never take responsibility for anything. It's always easier to blame someone / something else. We have become little idiot americans with our "blame someone else and then maybe try to sue them" mentalities. No sense of personal responsibility left in this generation. And not a hope in hell of any in the next which was brought up by them.

However you do have a point about all the bad mannered zombie consumerist children around with little or nothing in the way of a proper value system, making life worse for all who have the misfortune to be around them.

author by Gale Vogel - Birds Eye Viewpublication date Sun Nov 04, 2012 17:50Report this post to the editors

Bruce Arnold writes in the Irish Independent about the referendum.
It would appear that what he is actually stating is that the clouded thought and vague wording are likely to be problematic for the judiciary in deciding individual cases. Therefore, is might appear that delays will result in taking action where due, and that children may in fact suffer more as a result. The reality I consider is that there is very little difference other than the actual wording. There is an attempt to address the more modern status of the family in the wording. Would this be worthy of a low pass in an English or Legal exam?
The difficulty could be with our legal system having to re-interpret what is in effect already enshrined in our constitution.
Bruce Arnold claims it to be a waste of time. It would appear to be too a waste of resources, money, posters, media attention, but perhaps most of all a waste of an opportunity to hold true on a promise to better protect our children..

The referendum has been cited as providing more power to the state, in fact it would appear that is provides only more confusion.

Related Link: http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/bruce-arnold....html
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