The Home School Court Report
No. 2

In This Issue


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by Dr. Rodger Sayre
- disclaimer -
Yours, Mine, and ... Theirs? Whose Children are They Anyway?

Walking through Denver International Airport a short time ago, I came across a bronze statue of Jack Swigert. Does the name ring a bell? He was the Apollo 13 astronaut who, in the midst of grave danger, calmly stated to his ground crew, “Houston, we have a problem.”

The United Nations is concerned about how best to raise babies.
Photo Illustration by HSLDA


As it was with that crippled spacecraft, America is in serious trouble. Our plight is not hopeless, but unless we take corrective action now, our ruin is sure. Apollo 13 struggled with ruptured oxygen tanks. In America, it is the progressive disintegration of the traditional family unit that is placing our society on a trajectory to self-destruction. Critical to the success of any mission to save the traditional family, and thereby our nation, is the enactment of the Parental Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution.

What is a family, and who is ultimately responsible for the welfare of children? It seems there are a variety of answers to that question. President Obama, in his Father’s Day proclamation on June 18, 2010, said, “Nurturing families come in many forms, and children may be raised by a father and mother, a single father, two fathers, a stepfather, a grandfather, or caring guardian.” Immediately following this statement he paid tribute to those parents who serve in the military and “whose sacrifices protect the lives and liberties of all American children.” Okay, let me get this straight. How many fathers? Whose children?

Lest you think it’s only our president who is a bit confused, our present secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, stated during her 2007 presidential campaign, “I still believe it takes a village to raise a child” (lifting a line from her 1996 book It Takes a Village). What does that mean—“It takes a village”? Could it be that the U.S. government wants to lend you a helping hand? Or, perhaps more accurately stated, insists on lending you a helping hand?

Even more bizarre is the United Nations’ angle on the family. The UN apparently believes children should raise themselves, as evidenced by the principle behind the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Following the UN’s model for how families should work, parents are there to provide for a child’s physical needs, but it is the child who has the ultimate say in any decision involving his or her welfare. “Because I said so” definitely does not fly under UN standards of child care, and “Because God says so” is even more taboo.

Until recently, the judicial system of the United States confirmed what our forefathers took for granted: that a family is comprised of a father, mother, and children, and that parents should have the authority and responsibility to direct the upbringing of their children. However, nowhere in our Constitution is this explicitly stated, and with the present breakdown of the family, this age-old assumption is under attack.

The foot soldiers unwittingly leading the charge in this ideological war are child-care workers, ironically the very ones who have been vested with the responsibility of protecting our most vulnerable citizens.

Recently I attended an educational session at our local hospital entitled “Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect,” sponsored by the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Without question, identifying and appropriately addressing child abuse is one of the greatest challenges facing family physicians, pediatricians, and emergency room doctors. I was eager to hear what those presenting had to share.

During the session, the physician presenter made a startling remark. She said, “I remember when I was in medical school we were told that if you didn’t take out a normal appendix now and then, you were not doing enough appendectomies. Reporting child abuse is the same way. You have to maintain a high level of suspicion. You have to have a hair trigger. Don’t worry if the parents are guilty or not; leave that to us to find out. If you have any suspicion at all, report it to us and we will do the investigating.” Translation: If, during the course of an exam, the physician has even the slightest suspicion that abuse or neglect may be occurring, report the case to child protective services.

What’s wrong with this picture?

First, the advice is patently impractical. Imagine the resources needed to investigate every circumstance in which there is the slightest suspicion of abuse. What of the 4-year-old with bruises on his shins? Did they come from playing army with his 6-year-old brother, or did his parents inflict the trauma? How about the 2-year-old with a dislocated elbow? The mother says that the boy tripped while she was holding his hand, but what if his arm was intentionally jerked? The various scenarios are endless, but the resources are not.

Second, there is little agreement on what constitutes abuse and neglect. For example, some physicians and social workers think that any type of spanking is physical abuse. And there are those who firmly believe that parents who choose not to immunize their children are guilty of medical neglect. Should parents who follow biblical standards regarding corporal punishment or who have religious or philosophical objections to immunizations lose their children to foster care if they refuse to comply with the opinion of the “local authorities”?

Last, contrary to the rule of law in our nation, this approach presumes the parents to be guilty until proven innocent, resulting in children being terrorized by the very organizations commissioned to protect them. Imagine the trauma inflicted on child and parent alike when children are yanked from stable homes at the mere suggestion of abuse! This is not a theoretical problem. Home School Legal Defense Association deals with this type of scenario on a regular basis.

Let me be clear about one thing: abuse happens, and those of us in the medical profession need to keep our antennae up. In my judgment, crimes against trusting and defenseless children are the worst crimes of all. When a child is subjected to true abuse, I believe the perpetrator should be punished severely. An amendment to the U.S. Constitution codifying the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children in no way provides a loophole for parents or guardians to have free rein to abuse their children. Existing laws regarding child abuse will remain unchanged. The Parental Rights Amendment merely guarantees that parents, and not the “governing authorities,” will do the parenting.

The Apollo 13 mission was saved by the collective prayers and efforts of individuals around the world. Our nation can be too! If you are wondering what you can do to protect your family and save our country, I urge you to log on to and click “Join the Fight.” Please get involved!

About the author

Rodger Sayre, MD, FAAFP, has been an HSLDA board member since 1997. He and his wife, Mary, have graduated 6 of their 11 children and continue to teach the rest at home in Pennsylvania. Dr. Sayre is certified as a Diplomat of the American Board of Family Medicine and is a Geisinger Medical Group associate with a busy practice in Tunkhannoc.