Litigation vs. Parenting

I can understand censorship in some circumstances; I can rationalise it's purpose and understand that as a society we have to have a consensus on what is acceptable in our common media. Reading this BBC News article on a story currently unfolding in the US Supreme Court (of which I had already been made vaguely aware of via a friend's twitter) did trigger the notion that we might be offloading our responsibility towards our offspring on a societal level and dumping it on the state; even more concerning for me is the thought that the state's methods for picking up the slack are near unenforcable and our substitute parents are unavoidably ineffective. I'm a big fan of having a media ratings system. An informed and impartial body that will classify media according to it's content and present advisory data to the consumer to inform their choices. It's a great idea. I also think that it's reasonable to expect retailers to excersize responsibility when it comes to selling inappropriate media to children. It's absolutely not on for a shop clerk to allow a 10 year old to leave with a copy of a GTA game. When you sell something, you accept responsibility for it's proper distribution and that includes the societal concensus on appropriate content.

To my mind, this is where the law takes a seat and stops being nanny.

I feel that it's the role of the parent to police their child's activities and teach them what is appropriate behaviour and restrict the media they consume, be it violent video games or movies with sexual content. It's at the parent's discretion to purchase or allow the viewing of these things on a legal basis and the law has no right taking this discretion away. If parents accepted their own responsibilities then this would be less of an issue but more importantly if a child was in some way damaged by a parents neglect there are already laws to deal with this situation. Disregard for a child's emotional and intellectual wellbeing is abusive, and where it can be shown to be a real problem there are channels in place for dealing with these people. We can't be selectively pre-emptive about which forms of abuse we isolate children from. Isolation can be as damaging to development as can exposure to themes, ideas and imagery that an individual is not mature enough to process healthily. Do we force all parents to wear padded mittens just in case they feel like beating on their own offspring? Of course not. We assume that parents want to do their job well and take action if it goes critically or spectacularly wrong.

Don't treat parents as though they are already criminals, but ensure they are accountable for their responsibilities. Litigation is not the answer to societies parenting problems.