Scandal in Stroudsburg

"They said they were looking for [genital] warts, but on a sixth-grader?" That was the uncomprehending response by the mother of a sixth-grade student at an eastern Pennsylvania middle school. In a flagrant violation of their civil rights, the girls were subjected to a humiliating and wholly unwarranted physical examination--without their parents' knowledge or consent. It's yet another example of an alarming nationwide trend: that of out-of-control government agencies using the pretext of child abuse to deny parental rights and wrest control of our nation's children. The incident took place at J. T. Lambert Intermediate School in East Stroudsburg, where 59 sixth-grade girls were marched to the school nurse's office. The girls were required to undress and lie on a table while a doctor examined them. Many protested tearfully in vain. According to news reports, the nurses blocked the doors and refused to allow the girls to call home. Those who attempted to leave the room were physically restrained and forced to submit to the examination. The East Stroudsburg School District justified the Gestapo tactics, insisting that the exams were "necessary" and that "no improprieties" occurred. Medical experts, however, were quick to question the propriety of screening young girls for venereal warts. According to Dr. Joe A. McIlhaney, a pediatrician and expert on sexually transmitted diseases, the risk of such warts on young girls is low because 11-year-old girls are rarely sexually active. Indeed, assistant superintendent Rachael R. Heath admitted the real reason behind the examinations: Health officials were looking for signs of child abuse. Parents in East Stroudsburg have now experienced the frightening, Orwellian powers of government bureaucracies with innocuous-sounding names like "Social Services" and "Child Protective Services." These bureaucracies receive taxpayer funds for every child they seize from their parents and place in what are termed "out of home facilities." The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect reports that in 1994 more than 126,000 children were forcibly removed from their homes. Paul Craig Roberts of the Cato Institute calls the myth of rampant parental child abuse "the latest liberal mantra." Roberts reports that many documented cases exist of small children being coerced by "therapists" to recover so-called lost memories of child abuse under threat of never being allowed to see their parents again. We are all aware of the tragic reality of physical child abuse--and Christians should be vigilant. In such cases children need help and protection. But the state should not be manufacturing cases against parents. There is no substitute for the divinely ordained institution of the family. One of the great lessons of history is that no society can exist without respecting that basic unit of society. That's why efforts to preserve the sanctity of the family, such as the Parental Rights and Responsibility Act now before both houses of Congress, deserve our wholehearted support. The juggernaut of alleged parental child abuse--the latest liberal crusade--must not be allowed to go unchallenged. We owe it to our children and our families--to the very survival of our nation.  


Chuck Colson


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