Teachers (Part 2): Minors and the Craft -- Guidelines For Teachers And Students
Article Specs |
Article ID: 2882
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 5,030
Times Read: 54,380
Posted: July 16th. 2000
Times Viewed: 54,380
Many people are investigating the religions of Witchcraft, Wicca and other Neo-Pagan Paths today. There are many books and reference materials available, yet after some self study, there are some folks who would like to meet and perhaps work with a physical teacher. This can be a rewarding learning experience - or it could turn out to be your worst nightmare...
There is much concern-and rightfully so!- about the legal issues surrounding the acceptance of minor students into a Craft training or teaching program. Here are some points to ponder as aids to both teachers and the minor students who may wish to study Witchcraft.
Laws exist that protect the parent-child relationship from the undue influence of outside parties. Probably no Witch wants to have his/her child secretly taught another religious Path without their knowledge. While Witches may be more open to allowing- or even encouraging- their children to explore other religious studies than some of the practitioners of the "mainstream' religions, not all parents welcome the intrusion of an unknown outside party into an area that they may consider "family business." The legal system supports this right of parental custodianship.
None of the material presented in this section should be construed as legal advice. This article is for educational and informational purposes only. Contact a law office or the District Attorney in your state for more information.
For the Teacher:
For The Minor Student:
- Many teachers accept minor students with parental permission. We would suggest that you get a written permission slip and then have that permission confirmed either by telephone or with a face to face meeting with the parent. Some teachers even require that the parent be present in the classes. Some teachers will not accept minor students under any circumstances.
- Never be alone with a minor student. Always have another adult and preferably another student in the room at all times. Unfortunately, claims of abuse have been brought against adult teachers by minor students or their parents. Some have been reported to the police. "Private" lessons or counseling with minor students should be avoided!
- Never advise a minor student to go against a parent's expressed wishes. If there is a problem at home, a school counselor or community center is a better choice. We understand that you may wish to help, but do not place yourself between a parent and child. The legal system protects this relationship most vigorously.
NOTE: (From a child custody case law site:)-"When a parent has sole custody, that parent has full and complete authority over all decisions regarding the welfare of the child. The parent having sole custody has the legal right to make all decisions regarding the child, including those relating to health, education, religious and disciplinary matters."
- Get the home address, phone number and emergency contact numbers for every student. You should also have the name and number of the hospital of choice, doctor's phone number, etc. You are responsible for that minor while he/she is in your class and you should be prepared to act responsibly in case an emergency occurs. Have access to a phone. (The parent should appreciate your desire to be prepared as it demonstrates an attitude of professionalism.)
- Never lie about your age. If you are a minor, you may get an innocent teacher in a lot of legal trouble. If your parents will NOT give you permission to study Witchcraft, there is plenty that you can do on your own. Perhaps a parent will allow a "correspondence" type class where you can do the lessons in your own home and your parent can look over the material. If your parents are still dead-set against it, you will just have to be patient. They may change their minds later as they adjust to the idea.
- Lying to your parents will do nothing to change their negative attitude about Witchcraft, but acting maturely and openly about your interest in it may. They are concerned about your welfare. They are really not trying to "ruin' your life, but to protect you the best way they know how.
- Never be alone with an adult teacher. Always have another adult AND another student with you. This eliminates misunderstandings and makes everyone feel more comfortable.
- Be open with your parents and show them the materials from the class. Encourage them to call the teacher if they have questions. Make sure your parent has the teachers' phone number and knows the address of where you are meeting. Have access to a phone.
- Do be aware that the concerns expressed in this article may be some of the reasons that many teachers are reluctant to even consider instructing a minor student. These concerns are very real legal issues. So do not think that teachers simply are 'dissing" minor seekers or that they are "looking down" on you because of your age. They're not. Teachers may or may not agree with these laws, but they are acting as responsible adults in a society that has enacted the laws to protect children from potentially harmful situations.
For The Teacher:
For The Minor Student:
- The same rules apply to teaching on-line as in the physical world when it comes to parental permission. You can direct a minor who is requesting information to other web sites, books selections or references. This information can be accessed by anyone surfing the web-and as long as it is not pornographic or otherwise illegal-you incur no legal responsibility in doing this. (Do be careful about book selections as some do contain nude pictures or illustrations that while are not pornographic may cause a parent some concern.)
But as soon as you enter into a personal e-mail correspondence, you ARE potentially liable for the information that you are sending a minor. DO BE AWARE that many law enforcement officers are surfing the web posing as minors and looking for potential "abusers". Be very careful.
- Know who you are talking to. Anyone can state any personal information that they wish while on the Internet. There is no way to verify that this information is accurate. Again, there are "traps" being set by law enforcement personnel, so being overly cautious is not a bad idea.
- Never give out your home phone number or personal address. Get a Post Office Box if you have the need for correspondence.
- Do not try to counsel minors on-line. Direct them to a community service or hot line in their area. Not only can you get in trouble with parents, you can be charged with operating without a medical license. In a real emergency (suicide threat or child abuse), contact a police department for further instructions on how to proceed.
- There are often instructions made to public school students in guidelines and brochures on "What to do" if they are being abused, on drugs, etc. Often these brochures state "Tell your clergyperson or minister". Many teachers of Witchcraft are also legal clergy. But unless you have specific training in psychological counseling and the parent knows that you are counseling their child, do not try to handle these situations yourself. Again suggest other alternatives and resources.
- Never give out your home address or phone number. You do not have an way to verify who is requesting this information. Protect yourself. Never agree to meet alone with someone who contacts you on-line. This can be very, very dangerous.
- If your parents do not know that you are interested in Witchcraft, tell them. If you can't tell them, do not try to "sneak around". You can access information over the Internet, but do not try to hide e-mail correspondence. If your parents find it one day, not only may you be "in trouble", but you may have caused problems for someone else as well. Some on-line teachers have received very disturbing mail from parents who have 'discovered' an email correspondence.
- Your parent may be concerned that you have established a realtionship with someone that they do not know anything about. The subject of Witchcraft as a religion may be quite strange to them and they be will concerned about what you are "getting yourself into". News stories of internet relationships 'gone wrong" are making some parents very cautious in the area of the Internet and their children. They are trying to protect you. Cut them some slack; be reasonable and they may come to understand your position.
| The Age of Majority|
U.S. State, Australia, and Canadian Province Age of Majority Statutes: The following list gives the legal age of majority in the various states and provinces. This list is not complete as yet and if you have further information, please Contact us so we can include it here.
CANADA-AGE OF MAJORITY BY PROVINCE:
- Alabama - 19, No modifications.
- Alaska - 18.
- Arkansas - 18 or when child graduates from high school.
- California - 18; unless child still in high school, then on graduation or 19th birthday which ever occurs first.
- Connecticut - 18.
- D.C. - 21 years of age, or at the point the minor is self supporting through marriage, employment, or military service.
- Delaware - 18.
- Florida - 18.
- Georgia - 18.
- Hawaii - 18.
- Idaho - 18.
- Illinois - 18.
- Kansas - 18.
- Kentucky - 18, 19 if attending high school
- Louisiana - 18: unless emancipated earlier by notarial act, marriage or judicial determination: if child is still in high school, then age 19, or upon graduation from high school, whichever occurs first.
- Maine - 18.
- Maryland - 18.
- Massachusetts - 18.
- Michigan - 18.
- Minnesota - 18. With a person's 18th birthday come most of the rights, privileges, responsibilities, and obligations of adulthood. These rights include the right to vote, the right to make contracts, the right to marry without permission from parents or guardians, the right to purchase a firearm, and the right to serve on a jury.
- Mississippi - 21
- Montana - 18; or earlier if married, in the military, or fully financially independent of custodial parent.
- Nebraska - 19
- New Hampshire-Age if Majority: 18 (FULL CIVIL RIGHTS)
- New Mexico - 18; however, a 16 year old may be emancipated by having entered into valid marriage or active duty in armed services or by receiving declaration of emancipation pursuant to court petition and order showing he/she is living apart and managing his/her own affairs.
- Nevada - 18; 19 if still in high school.
- New York - 21; NY has no statute with respect to emancipation*; issue is decided on case-by-case basis; emancipation can take place before 21, if appropriate court so decides
- Ohio - 18 or graduated from high school, whichever occurs later.
- Oklahoma - 18.
- Oregon - 18; 21 if in school half-time or more.
- Pennsylvania - 18 and out of high school.
- Puerto Rico - 21 years of age, or whenever minor is self-supporting through marriage.
- Tennessee - 18; unless child is still in high school; in such cases emancipation occurs when child graduates from high school or when class child is in when he/she reaches age of majority.
- Utah - 18, or child graduates with high school graduating class.
- Vermont - 18.
- Virginia - 18 or a full-time high school student, not self-supporting, and living in the home of the parent, until the child reaches the age of nineteen (19) or graduates from high school, whichever comes first.
- Washington - 18, Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, all persons shall be deemed and taken to be of full age for all purposes at the age of eighteen years.
- Wisconsin - 18 and graduation from high school, or 19 years of age, whichever is sooner.
- Alberta: 18.
- British Columbia: 19.
- Manitoba: 18.
- New Brunswick: 19.
- Newfoundland: 19
- Northwest Territories: 19.
- Nova Scotia: 19.
- Ontario: 18.
- Prince Edward Island: 18.
- Quebec: 18.
- Saskatchewan: 18.
- Yukon Territories: 19.
WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TERM "EMANCIPATION"? - In general terms, an emancipation occurs when a minor child is released from the "subjection" of his or her parents. In layman terms, this means one is on his or her own afterwards, and must support oneself thereafter, at least until the emancipation terminates.
Whether or not one is emancipated depends on the particular facts of your situation, including age, marital status, ability to support oneself, desire to live independently, etc.
In Pennsylvania, emancipation is not necessarily a permanent state, and it may change with a change of surrounding conditions. In most states, emancipation is simply a matter of fact. That is, many states allow one to become emancipated simply by declaring oneself emancipated. Other states require a court order or decree. In addition, the age of majority differs between states - some declare minors automatically emancipated at age 18 and others at age 21. You would have to check with a legal authority in the state or province in which you reside to find out more about the laws in your specific area.
For more information on this topic:
ChildQuest Tips On Internet Safety at:
Children/Teen Concerns at:
Hotlines (addresses for reporting illegal uses of Internet aimed at children) at:
Child Safety on the Internet at:
List of suicide prevention hotlines at:
The Ethics Information Center at:
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