article about truant teenage girl
“A teenage girl was placed in
foster care yesterday after her parents were jailed for failing to send her
to school. The parents were locked up for four months.
parents… were first prosecuted in 2002 for failing to ensure their son
and daughter attended school.
prosecuting lawyer said: ‘This year nine pupil has persistently failed
to attend school for prolonged periods of time. This young girl has been persistently
failed by these defendants.’
defending lawyer said the parents had tried to make their daughter go to
school but were confronted by a teenager who just refused to listen. ….
‘Her father did try to drag her to school before but somebody rang
social services and the police.’
Court Chairman said: ‘You both knew you have a responsibility and
obligation to make sure that your daughter attended school. It is clear from
what we have heard that the staff at the school and the education authority
have done everything they can to assist you in this.’
said that the couple had shown ‘nothing but contempt’ towards
such help as well as to the court. Recent figures showed a 26 per cent
increase in truancy cases entering a ‘fast-track’ prosecution
from article in Daily Mail, 9
Let us remind ourselves of the basic moral principle: It
is immoral to superimpose one’s own, or a social, evaluation of things
on a person, who should be left free to act on his own evaluations of the totally
uncertain existential situation in which he finds himself.
Let us also remind ourselves of Ayn Rand’s dictum:
is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is
public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of
setting man free from men.’ – Ayn Rand.
When the Welfare State came in with the post-War 1945
Labour landslide, it soon became apparent that its real aim was the
elimination of freedom; each individual life was to be lived under tribal
scrutiny and supervision.
Compulsory education is immoral; it may be by no means
the best thing for any given individual.
Since the inception of the Welfare State the school-leaving age has
been raised from fourteen to fifteen, and then 16. When the rises were decreed, some
criticism of them was expressed in newspapers. Surely we have enough disaffected
teenagers hanging around schools, waiting to leave and get on with their
lives, now we are going to have more of them, hanging around for longer.
Of course these were the old-fashioned attitudes of
people who had had their own education before the onset of the Welfare State
and its associated ideology. I
doubt it would occur to anyone to express them today.
Because of this raising of the school-leaving age,
people were being robbed of the freedom to decide how bet to use their time
up to the age of 16 instead of 14.
My grandfather, in fact, left school at 12, since he was able to pass
the school-leaving examination at an age earlier than 14.
Having thus extended the time during which people must
act in accordance with what society saw fit to regard as educational, the
stage was set for the current state of affairs. The extra time which had to be spent
under social auspices became even more dubiously advantageous as standards
declined. If lessons conveyed
information in a structured way, they would be more interesting to the more
intelligent pupils, who would get more out of them than the duller pupils,
and become better informed. This
could not be regarded as acceptable in an egalitarian society, so lessons
progressively approached an ideal of zero informational content, from which
all pupils were equally unable to derive anything.
At the same time schools became more physically
dangerous, as the bored and demoralised pupils resorted increasingly to
bullying, gang warfare, attacks on teachers, sex, drink and drugs to pass the
Now parents can be deprived of the use of their freedom
for periods of time spent in prison.
The parents referred to in this news item are being penalised for
failing to force their daughter to spend time sitting through lessons which
she evidently had no wish to sit through.
And, furthermore, it is not only that they have broken a
law, they are morally turpitudinous.
They have ‘failed’ their daughter. They had a ‘responsibility and
obligation’ to toe the social line, and their failure to place the same
evaluation on things as required by the educational authorities is described
as ‘contempt’. One
must show respect for the law as well as obeying it.
And yet one may well wonder whether spending time in a
school is really in anyone’s interests. Illiteracy and child crime are both
more widespread than before there was any state education at all, when people
got by on various private or charitable arrangements.
Before the onset of the Welfare State there was a more
realistic recognition than there is now of the fact that socialism implied a
loss of individual liberty.
I remember a cartoon in the 1940s. A soap-box orator in Hyde Park was
exhorting his audience, ‘When you have got your freedom you won’t
eat fish and chips any more, you will eat caviar!’ A working class man objected,
‘But I want to eat fish and chips.
I don’t want to eat caviar.’
To which the reply was, ‘When you have got your
freedom, you’ll do as you’re told.’