Why the Law Really is an Ass Sometimes…

Are you someone who tends to stick to the law or are you a bit of a rebel? My husband will ensure that he goes not one mile over 60mph on country roads, yet sometimes I cling tensely onto car handles as he whizzes round curves on the quiet lanes.

I’ll admit I’m quite different.  I’ll drive cautiously on such roads as I’m concerned about what might be lurking around the corner (…a farmer and his herd of sheep, possibly, or a bunch of errant cyclers?)  But I’ll happily slip way past 70mph on a quiet stretch of straight motorway, keeping my distance from the car safely within Highway Code guidelines.

I believe speed limits were imposed to improve road safety and reduce fatalities.  Yet I’m certain that more fatalities have occurred on country roads with drivers going 60, than on aforementioned motorways with law defying drivers.

It’s all about the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law.

Consider this: Pharmacies will not allow me to flout the law by a margin of only 6 months to purchase eczema cream for my son, but school nurses would happily supply a potential 13 year old daughter of mine a stack of contraception and advice. In fact if she were 14 or 15 a doctor might deem her mature enough to opt for an abortion if she found herself unwittingly pregnant.

That without my knowledge or consent. A major procedure that is not necessarily without complication or error.  And perhaps she wouldn’t know the answer to questions about her parents’ and grandparents’ health or blood pressure problems.

That’s absolutely fine according to the laws of this land. But I, on the other hand, may not use my parental prerogative to administer specialist eczema cream to my 11 year old son, who is already physically the size of an average 12 year old, because the packet states that it is only to be used by those over the age of 12.

The woman behind the counter glared at me as if I were attempting to buy cigarettes for my son.  I just wanted to avoid a doctor’s visit and a long spell in a stuffy waiting room full of spluttering sick people and crying babies.

I’d be more than happy to follow the rules if pharmacists, doctors and teachers would likewise adhere to other rules concerning young people. What do you bet that any barely post-pubescent child could walk in and request a pregnancy test without anyone batting an eyelid?

Up and down the country girls and boys of 13 and 14 are supported and encouraged to break the law regarding the age of consent.

The argument goes… Well they’re only going to go out and engage in sexual activity anyway, so we should at least help them be safe.

Well how about…  Oh, the parent is only going to find another pharmacy to supply medicinal ointment for her unwell child, so they may as well sell her (i.e. me) the product.

Never gonna happen.  Yet one law concerns those who are still children, whose decisions are mostly fuelled by emotions and peer pressure; the other is an adult who has significantly more years of life experience under her belt and knows about dodgy signs or side effects to look out for.

Many 14 year olds can’t even follow simple instructions on a teacher’s PowerPoint yet we hope they’ll read all the contraindications listed on their packet of contraceptive pills?

Consider this also…  If I go to purchase a video or Xbox game that is rated 18, no one behind the counter asks if I have children at home who will also be watching and what their ages are.

As a former teacher who’s marked hundreds of year 7 scrapbook projects, I found it hard to comprehend how countless boys of 11 named Call of Duty their favourite video game.

Oh but that’s all right. The parents obviously believe that their child is mature enough to blow people to pieces on screen, despite being 7 years under the age limit.

But woe betide any parent attempting to push the boundaries by 6 months to administer some skin cream. Quelle horreur! Will they be sending round the social workers to metaphorically slap me on the wrist any time soon?

Unfortunately it would not surprise me. Thankfully, I decided not to go to another pharmacist to pretend the cream was for my older son, but rather followed the letter of the law and duly booked an appointment at the surgery. (So no, you can’t nail me with wrongdoing here, though I am guilty as charged concerning motorway driving sometimes.)

And I really do understand the perspective of the sales lady behind the counter.  She must adhere to the rules.  It’s just disappointing that no one adheres to many other rules regarding children these days.  And in some cases rules are shockingly absent.

If I want to, I could buy my 11 year old son a laptop or tablet for Christmas and let him use it unsupervised in his bedroom without any parental restrictions.  It would be perfectly legal to do so, in the process allowing him to view violence, pornography and yep, 18 movies downloaded online. (You’d be surprised how many parents know nothing much about installing restrictions on devices in their homes.)

I could likewise allow same said son to drink a glass of wine at Christmas (from age 5 this is legal). But I will only allow him a sip or two because as his parent I do actually possess a modicum of common sense and like to follow the spirit of the law rather than arbitrarily following the letter of the law.

What has incensed you lately about the laws of the land?

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