The Fight for the Family
by Lynette Burrows
91pp paperback, second edition 1999, Family Education Trust
reviewed by Andrew Haylett

The sub-title of this book, The Adults behind Children’s Rights, sets the theme. The author’s intention is to expose the real agenda of the various lobbying organisations and individuals whose professed aim is to protect vulnerable children from those who would injure and abuse them. Christians would be inclined, of course, to lend wholehearted support to such a campaign; after all, we are to "open our mouth for the dumb" (Proverbs 31:8) and the weakest members of society are to receive special protection. But Mrs. Burrows, a mother of six, demonstrates cogently that the true agenda of organisations such as EPOCH (End Physical Punishment of Children) and the CRO (Children’s Rights Office) is far less wholesome and innocuous than appears at first sight.

Firstly, these organisations do not have a broad concern for children’s welfare as traditionally understood. Christians believe that the best possible environment in which children can be raised is a loving, solid family, and that the sundering of that family unit is invariably damaging to the well-being of the child. However, the modern supporters of "children’s rights" see things very differently. For them, the family relationship is a loose association that may be suspended or dissolved at will by the child disaffected from his parents. The social worker has more authority than the father and mother. Ultimately, these ideas spring not from a desire to protect the autonomy of the child but from a commitment to removing children from the protective care of their parents and making them the property of the state.

Secondly, those who seek to defend children’s rights appear to be unwilling, or incapable, of distinguishing the practice of moderate and loving physical discipline from violent and sadistic abuse. The argument is that it is morally impossible to justify any form of physical correction, no matter what the context, and that the use of such correction will breed a new generation of violent children. This position is contrary to common sense, experience, research and Scripture.

Thirdly, the children’s rights lobby is entirely unrepresentative of the general population and even of the members of the various bodies whose support it claims. The author refers to a survey carried out by Families for Discipline amongst the organisations listed as supporters of EPOCH. The survey specifically addressed the question of physical discipline, and revealed that in many cases, the "grass-roots" members of the organisations had not been canvassed for their opinions. Furthermore, the "official" position on smacking adopted by these organisations almost invariably rested on faulty or prejudiced data rather than on non-partisan research.

Other material in this book deals with the connections between paedophilia, homosexual activism and the children’s’ rights campaign. The callous indifference demonstrated by these campaigners to the real dangers and temptations that young children face in modern society is exposed. This book makes neither reassuring nor comfortable reading – but the fight that it eloquently describes is one which every parent in the UK must take very seriously indeed, especially those parents whose first commitment is to love and obey the Lord their God. May He guide and protect our children from all those who would seek to harm them.