6.11.2019

Virginia Department of Veteran Services: Helping Veterans’ Families Stay Strong

This guest post is offered by Clare M. Balawajder, rising Regent 3L and recent Family Law Student:

In an interview with Carol Berg, Director of Veteran and Family Support for the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, I learned that veterans' families receive a variety of services to help maintain their households and keep their families strong. For example, financial help is available if veterans fall behind on rent payments or utilities. Financial needs of these families are met through community resources and partners that are coordinated through the Virginia Department of Veteran Services.

In order to receive this support, a family member must be linked to a veteran. For example, a military veteran and his or her spouse must be married with the intent to live together in the same household at the time of benefit application.  A child of a veteran can receive services for behavioral issues linked to his or her military parent's PTSD. However, the child would not be eligible for assistance with for example autism, because the issue for which help is sought must be linked to the veteran unless the veteran also suffers from autism.    

Support for veterans' families includes such resources as Retreat Mission Healthy Relationships, which is a couples' weekend offered three times per year to help build and maintain strong relationships for married couples. Another is Mission Healthy Family, offered once per year and is a weekend for families. Both missions are offered free of charge.

Despite all of the benefits provided by Veteran Services, legal services is not among them. Veterans and their families seeking assistance with legal issues are referred to organizations such as Eastern Legal Services, Legal Aid of Eastern Virginia, or Puller Law Clinic at the William & Mary Law School. Some of the most common legal issues that are referred to these organizations are landlord-tenant disputes, disability claims, and bankruptcies.

Veteran Services serves all five branches of the military.  Veterans separated from the service and guard or reserve members who are not on government orders are eligible for the wide-variety of services offered. It does not matter how a veteran was discharged or separated from the service. He or she can access the important resources offered. For more information on services to Virginia Veterans please visit www.dvs.virginia.gov.  Veteran and Family Support for the Virginia Department of Veterans Services is one more way to assist military families toward family restoration.

 

6.06.2019

Toward a Parental Theology of Sex, Gender & Relationships

This guest post is offered by Alexis Heaslip, wife, parent, and student:

The topics of sex, gender, and relationships are quite daunting for parents to discuss with their children. Because of the influence of peers and social media, many parents feel that maintaining Christian values in all aspects of life is impossible. The good news is that’s not the case. A parent should make sure that children are properly educated on what the Bible says and what Christian teachings are on sex, gender, and relationships. Fortunately, the Bible has clear instructions for these topics and through scripture parents will be able to know how to properly teach and educate children on these hard and sometimes awkward topics.

When it comes to sex, the Bible has clear messages. Sex should be between a husband and wife, and the two become one. God wants man to “be fruitful and multiply”; however only in the context of marriage (Genesis 1:28). Through the love that man and woman have for one another, they commit themselves to each other exclusively and hope that through the becoming of one flesh that children are brought forth into the world. In order for children to have a full understanding of the importance of marriage when it comes to sex and what sex is for, parents should be aware of the responsibility they have to raise children that fully understand their faith (Humanae Vitae). If children are taught, through the actions and teachings of their parents, to respect life, then sex will not be seen as just an act for fun, but rather a union between two people that love each other in the hopes of bringing life into the world. Although many parents shy away from the topic of sex, it is critical that parents speak to their children about sex at the appropriate time and how important chastity is. Through the example of their own chastity, parents can maintain in the family a positive atmosphere of love, virtue, and respect for the gifts of God (Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality). This will give a positive yet reverent outlook on sex that emphasizes the importance of sex in the context of marriage.

Gender has been a hot button topic these past couple of years and can be confusing for parents and children alike. Thankfully, the Bible clearly states that “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Despite the fact that the Bible clearly says that there is indeed male and female, our modern culture tries to tell us that there is no such thing as gender. In this day and age of gender confusion, parents must be firm in teaching their children to be faithful to God’s design, reminding them that their body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and they should glorify God in their body (1 Corinth. 6:19-20; Humanae Vitae). Since love is a precious source for the self-giving which all men and women are called to make for their own self-realization and happiness, it is imperative that parents are diligent in demonstrating through their marriage the differences in men and women and how they naturally complement each other.   

Sexuality characterizes men and women in three different ways: physically, psychologically, and spiritually. When educating children about these differences it is necessary to know that each child is a unique and unrepeatable person and must receive individualized formation. One child may react differently than another and parents should be able to talk to their children individually. While individually explaining sexuality to a child, parents should always make sure that moral dimension is always a part of their explanation while making sure the information given is not too soon for the child and that the information is in the broadest context possible (Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality). Finally, it should be emphasized that chastity, no matter the state of life, is possible and brings joy. (Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality)

This leads to the idea of relationships. The Bible says many different things about relationships; however there is one particular passage that demonstrates how we are supposed to treat each other in peace: “I...urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).  A relationship of peace between husband and wife will demonstrate to children the type of relationships that they should have with others, whether friends in school, teachers, other authority figures, or the relationship that they will eventually have with their significant other. How parents relate to one another will directly impact how children think of and treat others. As parents, our love should be an act of free will-- a love which is total; faithful, and exclusive of all others until death; love is fecund, bringing new life into being, not just confined to husband and wife loving each other (Humanae Vitae). If spousal relations do not entail all of these characteristics of what married love is supposed to be, then children will not have a solid example as to how a beautiful relationship is supposed to look. Parents need to set the stage so that their children know what a healthy relationship is. The duty of parents to rouse their children to love and do good works is paramount for building up the love that children will have for the Lord (Hebrews 10: 24-25).

Although these are somewhat challenging and seemingly overwhelming topics, sex, gender, and relationships are subjects from which parents should not shy away. Although there are many obstinate ideas in the world about sex and gender and relationships, the Good News of the Lord shows us what true love and healthy relationships are. Parents should look to the Bible in times of education and stress while raising children, and His word will indeed guide them in the direction of educating their children with the truth.

6.02.2019

True Restoration - Virginia Beach Strong

 

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

5.28.2019

Life, Liberty, and Justice for All: Do Child Abuse Victims have Constitutional Rights?

This guest blog post is from Heather Wong, 2019 Regent Law graduate and former Family Law student:

According to the United States Supreme Court, the answer seems to be “no.” Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote, “nothing in the language of the Due Process Clause itself requires the State to protect the life, liberty, and property of its citizens against private invasion by private actors.”[1] The “private actor” was Joshua DeShaney’s father. And the “private invasion”?  Repeated violence that severely handicapped a four-year old boy.

 

 

In 2017, there were 673,830 victims of child abuse.[2]  One quarter of such victims were less than three years old,[3] like Joshua. In the first years of his life, Joshua suffered relentless beatings that could have been prevented. Who is responsible to protect protect child abuse victims? In Joshua’s case, social workers knew about the abuse, but failed to intervene.  Instead, social workers merely noted likely child abuse and returned Joshua back to his father’s hands. As a consequence, Joshua’s father beat him so severely that he fell into a life-threatening coma.  Joshua’s father served two years of incarceration.  Joshua, however, suffered permanent brain damage.

The Constitution protects a parent’s fundamental right to direct the upbringing of their child. But, that right must be balanced with a parent’s fundamental duty to seek the best interest of their child. A parent’s rights should be secondary to a child’s rights and welfare. Otherwise, the State must intervene under parens patriae[4] authority when a parent abrogates their highest parental duty to seek the best interest of their child. Furthermore, “active state intervention” in cases of known child abuse should trigger a fundamental duty to provide aid to the child as soon as the State learns of any severe danger to which the child is exposed.[5] So children have parents charged with the duty of protecting the best interests of their children.  When that fails, the state must intervene in a timely manner to protect that child. 

Joshua’s tragic outcome is enough to wonder why “compassion [was] exiled from the province of judging,”[6] as Justice Blackmun’s dissent put it. Yet, the Supreme Court held that “the State had no constitutional duty to protect Joshua.”[7]

Joshua died at the age of thirty-six in 2015.

 



[1] Deshaney v. Winnebago County Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 489 U.S. 189, 195-96 (1989).

[2] Child Maltreatment, U.S. Dep’t Health & Human Servs. 20 (2017), https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/cm2017.pdf.

[3] Id. at 22.

[4] The State’s role as “parent” to protect children who have been abandoned, neglected, or abused by their parents.

[5] Deshaney at 212 (dissenting opinion).

[6] Id. at 213.

[7] Id. at 201.

5.21.2019

NIFLA 2019 Summit at Regent Law


The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in 2018 heard the case of NIFLA v. Becerra, and in 2016 the case of Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt.  Both cases were so key and pivotal to the pro-life movement to warrant a CLE presentation at the 2019 NIFLA Summit held on the Regent University School of Law campus this week.  NIFLA v. Becerra considered how far speech about abortion can be compelled, while Whole Women's Health successfully challenged clinic restrictions that would have protected women. Each presenter who joined me  exhaustively researched and wrote about the topic she presented for her academic legal scholarship thesis in law school as part of her service on law review.  Corrie Lee Evans is an editor for the Regent University Law Review and has served with NIFLA in an apprenticeship, and Tifani Silveria is the Editor in Chief of the Regent University Law Review.  Each presented the fine work done this year to update on the latest case law. 
The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) represents more than 1,430 PRC's across the country.  To find a NIFLA Member Center near you, go to www.nifla.org and click on any state below.
While these cases have provided two sides of a coin – one to protect free speech, and the other to limit clinic protections, having a basic working knowledge of them is necessary, and getting that information from Christian women who are future lawyers is most helpful.  A Christian Perspective on Gender Equality is helpful in protecting women from the destruction of abortion.  Family restoration can work to protect the lives of women and children, and pregnancy resource centers do just that.  Pregnancy resource centers and the women who visit them need to have free speech rights to discuss their options to save the lives of their unborn children, as well as be protected themselves from the harms of abortion.

5.17.2019

Free Speech under Fire for Families

This insightful guest post is offered by Joseph A. Kohm, III, Esq., Regent Law 2016:

Three weeks ago, the Supreme Court of British Columbia (SCBC) found a father guilty of “family violence” for continuing to refer to his child as a girl, despite the child’s social gender identification as a boy. The court effectively put a gag order on the child’s father for using her biological gender. 

Justice Francesca Marzari called the dad’s actions “expressions of rejection of [her] gender identity.” The Court further opined that the child, AB, is “harmed by the fact that it is his own father, whom he loves, who appears to be publicly rejecting his identity, perpetuating stories that reject his identity, and exposing him to degrading and violent commentary in social media” (A.B. v. C.D. and E.F., 2019 BCSC 604, par. 72). 

This episode appears to be the latest in a disturbing political trend whereby one side labels the other side’s speech as “violent” in order to silence them and shut down moral and political discourse.  This is not helpful for a child, a family, or for those who value free speech.

The First Amendment has rebuffed many assaults in its history, but this new “speech equals violence” ideology is unprecedented in its gall, its fragility, and its double standards. As an example, in recent days merely quoting Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar for making light of the 9/11 terror attacks or her many anti-Semitic remarks has been labeled as incitement to violence.  The history here goes deeper: left leader Al Sharpton directly incited violence in 1991 during the Crown Heights riots by leading a march of protesters chanting “Death to the Jews!” He later responded to the riots by saying, “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.” Twenty-eight years later, however, it seems that speech equals violence only if you are someone with conservative convictions, as demonstrated by the attack on conservative political commentator Michael Knowles at the University of Missouri-Kansas City which was largely ignored by mainstream media, or if you are a parent who recognizes a child’s biological gender, as is evident from this case of AB and her parents in British Columbia.

One could argue that Justice Marzari has hijacked this recent, trendy anti-speech ideology in order to further the LGBTQ agenda she worked to establish before being elected to the SCBC.  This style of justice, however, has fostered division rather than unity in AB’s family, and through them, has virtually forced the same effect on every family in Canada. The God-given and constitutionally protected right to free speech enables the discourse that is necessary to strengthen families.

As a natural result of this case, however, the assault on free speech by the SCBC is a direct assault on the family itself. Discerning Americans know that America can eventually face whatever Canada faces; and make no mistake, radical activists already have arguments ready for when this battle comes to the fruited plain. Those who care about the family and the survival of the First Amendment ought to be prepared as well.  America’s children and families depend on it.

 

5.14.2019

The Parental Use of “Kidfluencers” on Social Media: Harmless or Exploitative?

This blog post is offered by Regent Law 2L and recent Family Law student, Chandler Jones:

Whether we like it or not, social media has permeated American culture. Popular services like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter allow people to connect and communicate with one another like never before. Businesses and organizations utilize these platforms to engage with prospective clients. "Influencers" are individuals hired to endorse various brands by posting, tweeting, and blogging on their own personal social media channels. Some influencers use photos and videos of their children for advertising purposes—hence the term "kidfluencers." For example, "The Bucket List Family" is a well-known family adored by Instagram users for their world travels, adorable children, and inspiring videos. Their account has almost two million followers, and they make money by posting advertisements along with their own original content. With that idyllic family image in mind, other parents are now attempting to navigate this new age of technology. As a result, legal issues regarding platform regulation must be addressed, because unfortunately not all parents act in their children's best interests. The reality is that when children are the sole content producers for their parents' social media channels, they are not legally contracted because they are legally incapacitated to do so, which leaves them more vulnerable to exploitation.

The heart-breaking story of YouTube Mom Machelle Hackney exemplifies the dangers of unrestricted media. Once Hackney's children became famous for their Fantastic Adventures on YouTube, they were taken out of school and subsequently abused for years. Subscribers could not see that behind the scenes the children were subjected to physical abuse when they failed to perform perfectly for their mother's videos. Although children generally receive formidable legal protection, the law has yet to adapt to the developing digital age, leaving children defenseless to scenarios like the Hackneys'. Some states have adopted The Coogan Law, which establishes labor conditions and fair compensation guidelines for child actors. Congress has even implemented the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act that requires online operators to have parental consent when collecting content from children under the age of thirteen years old. These specific laws are inapplicable to parents' specific use of children on social media platforms. 

Two sides of the debate extend further within the family law context set as rivals parents and children. Some argue that when parents post without their children's consent, they violate their children's reasonable expectation of privacy. Because children do not typically have the means and power to file claims in the court of law against their parents, regulations are needed to protect them. Others argue that the ramifications of social media are so complicated because the parent's right to control the upbringing of their children can overpower their children's individual interests. From an ethical standpoint, damage to the familial system is exacerbated by social media because some parents choose money and fame over what is genuinely best for their children.

A family restoration perspective focuses on bringing parents' and children's concerns into perspective together, coinciding and working simultaneously to restore and strengthen the family unit.  New policies to take on the kidfluencer concern may be just what is needed.

5.11.2019

Commencement is the Beginning of Changing the World

Commencement at Regent University School of Law is the beginning of Christian leadership changing the world.  Congratulations to the winner of the Chancellor’s Award for Faculty Recognition for 2019, Professor Gloria A. Whittico, well deserved in part for her profound original scholarship on freedom suit family restoration
As faculty members we have the privilege of serving these students, and while they work hard to earn their Juris Doctor, the students listed below also saw a greater goal in reaching the world through excellent legal scholarship.  

Publications by Regent Law Students:

What they began in law school will only serve to continue to work to restore families for eternity.  Congratulations to all graduates!  This is just the beginning…

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 
Ephesians 2:10