The rights of parents and the rights of family take precedence over those of Washington-based bureaucrats and social engineers.
—Ronald Reagan. Speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, Orlando, Florida, March 8, 1983.
One of the greatest evils the state can commit is to take children away from responsible parents and brainwash them against their own kind. Extreme examples of this include the Mamelukes, who were stolen as children from Christians and raised as Muslims to fight fanatically against their own people. There is also the horrific tale of the Hitler Youth, who were brainwashed in the hate-filled doctrines of the Nazis and then sent to die in hopeless battles against Soviet tanks or to freeze to death in Siberia. There are also less extreme, but no less insidious, versions of this evil, namely the use of national curriculums, national schools, national textbooks, and the regimentation of education. This practice forges a monolithic docile mindset. It was the state-ruled education system of the Germans that led to the depravity of Nazism, something that pluralistically educated Americans and English were never in any danger of submitting to.
Parents have more interest in their children than anyone else and can be relied on to protect them and to assure their development into responsible adults. However, we do not believe in the right of the parents to do whatever they will with their children—to beat them, murder them, or sell them into slavery. Children are responsible individuals in embryo. They have ultimate rights of their own and are not simply the playthings of their parents.
—Milton Friedman. Free to Choose, 1980.
Causing physiological harm to children by beating them, intimidating them, or sexually abusing them is an infringement of their rights. Binding their feet, tattooing them, initiating them into a cult or marrying them off are all steps which will follow a child into adulthood and so cross the line. Failure to provide a loving environment, nutritious food, and proper healthcare are breaches of natural duties which the law must concern itself with. Parents who are irredeemably criminal ought not be trusted to raise their children. Thus, pedophiles, murderers, rapists, heroin addicts, should lose their right to raise their offspring in favor of a grandparent or other close relative, if possible—otherwise, the children should be placed in the care of foster parents.