Child rearing should require a license

Have you ever thought about the concept of a license? Why do we need formal permission to drive or shoot a gun? The concept behind a license is rather straightforward. In order to protect the citizenry, licenses are issued. How is one protected?

Usually, licenses prohibit certain types of people who are deemed unfit from partaking in specific activities. Thus, when one obtains a license to drive, this person is theoretically prepared to drive a car. The same is true for people that have a gun, or for persons who want to become professors, teachers, lawyers or doctors. In almost every aspect of human activity, a person has to be deemed equipped to do certain tasks. Yet in perhaps the most significant human task – child rearing – there is no such competency examination.

Consider that in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, more than 30 percent of young black men are in jail, on probation or on parole. Twenty-and-a-half percent of all children under age 18 are poor, including 39.9 percent of black children and 40.3 percent of Hispanic children.

These statistics are not derived out of a vacuum. More children are born into poor families. That is, parents with incomes below the poverty line choose to give birth to more children. In turn, this leads to more children being born into poverty. Nevertheless, what’s more troubling is that poverty and crime are disturbingly linked.

Carl C. Holmes writes the following: “If poor people are more likely to commit crime, and if minorities are more likely to be poor, are they also more likely to commit crime?

Deductive reasoning would say so. Data produced by prosecutors tends to confirm this notion. This is another of the cruel and devastating effects of poverty.”

Crime usually comes about because of lack of resources, opportunity and encouragement. Nevertheless, one reason why there are many poor children is because there are poor parents willing to have children.

These parents (often single and uneducated) opt to bring children into a world of deficiency without taking into account the effects that it might have on the child. The Child Trends DataBank reports that “among poor children, those with poorly educated parents (less than 12 years of education) are only modestly less likely to be working poor than those with more educated parents.”

This, of course, is unfair to the child. Though the child is granted the gift of life, he or she must live a life of toil and trouble.

The child not only has parents (or a single parent) that are not as educated, but they will lack educational and financial resources.

This, inevitably, will place the child on an uneven playing field, and subsequently, the child will play catch-up for most of his life. The solution to this problem is rather simple.

Like operating a vehicle or a gun, one should have to gain a license to parent. Thus, one should have to prove one’s competency in being a parent.

A parent should be mentally and financially prepared to raise a child, and one way to effectively screen bad parents is to create legislation that precludes unprepared people from having children.

Theoretically, this would make it more difficult for people to have children, and it would ultimately lead to better-suited people having children. One might argue that this is against the liberty of the would-be parent. Though this is the case, the point of the license is not to protect the liberty of the parent, but to protect the liberty of the child.

Similar to obtaining a license to drive, one is not only protecting the liberty of a licensed driver, but one is also protecting the liberty of every other driver (by placing competent drivers on the road).

The same must be done in parenting. It will only benefit potential children if their parents are competent and prepared. And this is the fairest thing we can grant to future children.

Matthew Sisco contributed to this article.

Information from – Freakonomics by Steve Levitt; Crime, Poverty, and the Family by William P. Barr