Children’s rights confuse me. But, then, children’s rights and the issues that surround them, such as parental responsibility, have confounded a great many otherwise clear minded theorists.
Beginning with the obvious: an infant is an autonomous individual with the same rights against aggression as an adult possesses. Killing an infant is murder in precisely the same moral and legal sense as killing an adult. In short, infants have what libertarianism calls “negative rights” which impose a duty upon others to not aggress.
But do infants have “positive rights” which impose obligations for assistance upon others? ..
The implementation or content of a guardianship should consist of “anything that is peaceful,” ..
The uncomfortable fact, however, is that libertarianism does not recognize positive legal obligations except as established by agreement. That is to say, there is no positive obligation that legally forces a parent to provide sustenance or shelter ..
.. Libertarianism will not bring utopia; it merely solves social problems better than its competition. Of one thing I am certain. The libertarian system of children’s and parental rights is infinitely preferable to the current one ..
Nevertheless, it is uncomfortable to think of even one child slipping through the cracks of a libertarian system into the personal hell of abuse ..
I prefer the approach of the 19th century individual anarchist Josiah Warren who was, by all accounts, a loving and kind father. He advocated making children both responsible for their own needs and capable of satisfying them at the earliest possible age ..
Too many parents neither love nor like their children. This is a brutal, merciless fact of life and it will not change under libertarianism ..
I can only hope that a libertarian society would share my deep moral and emotional discomfort at neglectful or cruel parents and, so, use every private alternative (including new ones) to protect children.