under the covers, where it had been heating up since thernAmerican hbido was drafted in 1942, to do battle with thernarthritic and thinning legions of Christian decency. The familyrnitself fell into disrepute, pummeled bv nco-Malthusians,rnneofeminists, neo-Marxists, and neopagans alike.rnHealthy American families are subjectedrnto the real abuse of state investigations intorntheir structure and character, a special kindrnof terror unique to the sentimentalrntotalitarianism of late 20th-century America.rnSensing their opportunity, the Child Savers returned. Inrn1962, several clever advocates coined the phrase “batteredrnchild syndrome.” Soon lAfe, The Saturday Evening Posf, Goodrnllouaekeeping, and other bored organs of the 50’s svnthesisrnbegan thumping the drums with articles like “Parents WhornBeat Children” and “Cry Rises From Beaten Babies.” Thernemerging late 20th-century American mind, awash in sensationrnand cheap sentiment, lurched to the proffered solution. Betweenrn1963 and 1967, all 50 states adopted “reporting laws,”rnrccjuiring doctors, teachers, and social workers to report suspectedrneases of child abuse. Like Child Saving tools of thernpast, these laws essentially denied the existence of naturalrnparental rights and the Common Law. Accused parents facedrna presumption of guilt (often involving seizure of their children)rnuntil they could prove their innocence. Other ancientrnlegal protections—including the husband-wife privilege—rnwere scrapped, in service to a great new crusade.rnIn fact, in the very year when this new “crisis” took form,rnfewer than 5,000 cases of physically abused children could berncounted nationwide. Bv 1968, the number was still onK 6,617.rnYet a kind of inflation, in social statistics as well as money,rnsoon occurred. By 1981, the official number reached 85,000;rnby 1986, 250,000; and today, over one million.rnTo believe the Child Savers, Americans are now batteringrntheir children at a level unprecedented in human historv. Onrnthe one hand, the actual incidence of serious physical andrnsexual abuse probably is rising. I lowever, this appears to be arnconsequence of the already shattered domestic order. A rapidlyrngrowing number of children are living in homes where thernnatural father is absent, due to illcgitimacv, abandonment, orrndivorce. Many of these households also contain “live-in”rnboyfriends, who tend to behave in brutal fashion toward childrenrnof the earlier male.rnOn the other hand, the Child Saving crusade has relentlesslyrnaimed its machinery at intact families. Spurred on byrntwisted feminist theories of patriarchal oppression, state agentsrnhave whipped up public hysteria, generating over one millionrnfalse accusations of abuse each year. Healthy American familiesrnare subjected to the real abuse of state investigations intorntheir structure and character, a special kind of terror unique tornthe sentimental totalitarianism of late 20th-century America.rnState schools serve as the primary instruments of scrutinyrnand indoctrination. From the eadiest grades, children arcrntaught by public officials to be suspicious of their parents’rntouches and told how to register complaints over parents’ actionsrnwith public officials. Federally funded School-BasedrnMulti-Disciplinary Teams enter schools to ferret out “abusingrnfamilies.” These cadres of social workers and psychologistsrnhave the power to examine a family’s source of income, history,rnliving conditions, attitudes, self-image, spousal relations,rnimpulse control, and degree of community involvement.rnThose falling short of federal standards face therapy, loss ofrnchildren, and formal criminal charges.rnIndeed, it is primarilv through the state’s schools that parensrnpatriae continues its drive to displace the autonomous family.rnAs Princeton sociologist Norman Ryder has conclusivelyrnshown, government schools serve as the prime instrument forrncommunicating a “state morality” and a “state ni) thologs”rndesigned to subvert the bonds and sense of continuity of eachrnfamily. “Families” are allowed to exist only as they becomernagents of the state, dutifully providing room and board to thernstate’s children.rnG. K. Chesterton explained, decades ago, what was at stakernlicre. “The ideal for which the family stands… is liberty,” hernwrote. “It is the only . . . institution that is at once necessaryrnand oluntar. It is the onlv check on the state that is bound tornrenew itself as eternall’ as the state, and more naturally thanrnthe state.”rnFor the 1990’s, the most important front in the ongoingrncontest between the liberal state and the familv may bern”homesehooling.” Embracing but a handful of children thirtvrnyears ago, homeschools now educate at least a half-millionrnchildren; the actual number is probably over a million, andrngrowing. These families ha’e pulled their children out of staternschools, seeking to defend the integrity of their distinctivernhistory and moral message from the leveling impulses of thernstate. At the same time, these families act on the instinctivernknowledge that their existence as autonomous entities requiresrna reclaiming of powers and functions from parens patriae.rnThis “refunctionali/.ation,” in turn, changes the family’srnnature, often restoring the sense of “household” and economicrncommunity lost decades ago.rnNot surprisingly, parens patriae has turned its full fury onrnthese latter-day rebels. Authorities in many states have mobilizedrnneglect and abuse laws alongside truancy laws to harass orrnimprison parents and to force their children back into therngovernment’s schools. Yet the number of dissenters continuesrnto grow, forming a new kind of underground movementrnagainst the overweening ambitions of the parental state.rnrhc reconstruction of family life in America cannot bernbased on the “companionate” model of the 1950’s, as thernncoconscrvative dream would have it. This “traditional family”rnrepresented no more than a brief pause, inherently unstable,rnin the transfer of power and authority from the autonomousrnfamih of the 19th century to the triumphant parensrnpatriae of the 20th. More certainly, the current liberal dreamrnof public daycare and expanded “family services” represents arnplan for the final destruction of the state’s only real rival. Instead,rnthe survival of the American family depends on thosernfamilies able and ready to reclaim the functions and the powers,rnsuch as education, that are naturally theirs. Ihe criticalrnbattles will be fought in hamlets and cities throughout thernland, as indiiduals wake up and shake off their shackles, rediscoveringrnthat their liberty, like the liberty of their neighbors,rnrests on their covenants of nrarriage and parenthood. crn14/CHRONICLESrnrnrn