Prime Time Crime  


(Published in the Chilliwack Times week of Sept. 10, 2007)


Time to look after your kids


  By John Martin

The civil rights and women's liberation movements from some 40 years ago have inspired countless imitators. Barely a day goes by that one group or another isn't in the media or the courts demanding their "rights." Non-smokers have probably been the most successful at championing their cause while others have achieved little more than bringing a modicum of attention to themselves.

Religious groups, seniors, the disabled, pregnant women and transit users are among the groups who have stepped up to the plate and voiced concern over a variety of inequities in recent times. One of the last groups to be blatantly discriminated against by the legal system, fathers in custody disputes, have finally organized to insist on equal treatment before the law.

Even the most seemingly absurd cases often get a sympathetic hearing at human rights tribunals and civil proceedings. Obese people have fought for their right to be provided two or more seats on airline flights.

Transsexuals have demanded the right to use whatever public washroom they feel so inclined to visit. Inmates, drug users, street people and prostitutes routinely demand a literal shopping list of "rights."

In fact, I can only think of one group that has yet to make a public or legal statement with respect to unequal treatment. That would be couples who do not have children as a matter of choice or other circumstances. I wrote a column on this issue a number of years ago and was inundated with anecdotes of abuse and ill treatment.

Women without kids were expected to work overtime at the office on a moment's notice while others skipped out early to pick up their kids from school or take them to dance classes. Employees with years of seniority were not allowed to take their holidays during the summer months because it was more important that parents be able to take time off in July and August to spend holidays with their kids. Co-workers with school-age children were excused from after-hours staff meetings while others had to sit through these "mandatory" sessions.

Child-free couples may plan a two hundred dollar candlelight dinner in a fine dining establishment only to have the evening ruined by people who bring screaming kids and crying babies to places clearly designed for adults rather than families. It's not uncommon for people to dump a bag of toys on the floor in a high-end restaurant and expect patrons and staff to simply step over the impromptu playground. Terrified of an expensive human rights hearing, management is unlikely to take a stand and insist on some decency from those who think every eating establishment is their own, personal romper room.

Couples without children pay the same taxes as everyone else; actually, they pay more, for services they will never benefit from. Their property taxes continue to skyrocket to pay for policing costs directly associated with parents who don't have a clue or a care what their kids are up to. They pay ever-increasing car insurance rates to offset accidents, vandalism and theft at the hands of young people whose parents are completely oblivious to their shenanigans. People without kids constantly pay the bills so other people's kids can have all the services provided for them by every level of government.

That alone, should make it mandatory that delinquent parents wake up and start exercising a little responsibility.

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at

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