The status of children is one of the most under-acknowledged problems. Children are almost universally the victims of some of the worst modern human rights abuses; schools, especially, are among the least humane institutions in the world.
Tell me what this sounds like to you: "Despite being innocent, you have to spend hours in this building every day whether you want to or not, and while inside you must do everything the designated authority says, or you will be punished". It sounds like slavery, doesn't it?
That's the status of most children. Pre-teen-age, attendance is almost never voluntary as far as the children are concerned; obedience is coerced by threats of punishment. And being forced to go to an otherwise humane place of learning would be abuse, but schools are far from it. Being forced to sit in a room where you need someone else's approval to speak, hell, to even leave your seat, even to use the toilet? It is incredible that most people involved in this system of dehumanization and abuse claim to see children as people.
The only difference anyone can offer is that it's "for their good". Somehow, if it's "educational", slavery becomes okay again. I plan to write separately about how schools are abysmally inefficient at teaching anything, but even if they weren't, that wouldn't justify slavery, for fuck's sake.
"Children are too young to make their own decisions, we have to guide them!" Yes... guidance apparently means not that we should protect them while we train them to fend for themselves, but that they have no rights unless they do everything we say. Being dependent on others - especially when those others chose to bring you into the world knowing you would be helpless at first - does not give others the right to corral and control you. What about disabled adults who need help living? It does not become okay to force them into a room against their will and dictate their every action. No matter how much defenders scream that Education is A Public Good or An Essential Part Of Our Society, involuntary detention and control of another person is called slavery.
When I was in kindergarten we had to "take a nap" at the end of each class while the teacher graded our homework (read: lay down and pretend to sleep and not make any noise or you'll be yelled at). This is no embellishment. There were a lot of horror stories like this in just one year of school. Thankfully, I was homeschooled for the rest of my childhood. Even in that year of horror I was incredibly lucky compared to some kids.
Oh, by the way, that link was censored from r/news. A month on a sub with almost 20 million subscribed accounts and 28,000 online as I write this, without a single comment or vote? Impossible beyond a shadow of a doubt. I also checked the New tab about 15 hours after posting it and it wasn't in its spot - there were posts from before and after it strictly in order, but not it. (It was also banned from r/politics when I posted it there.)
That our government has laws restricting child labor is bitterly hilarious in light of the realization that the government enslaves our children. And some people not only want kids to be corraled into slave indoctrination camps, but want parents to be put in jail for not cooperating... for fuck's sake.
And lest I give the impression that the government is the only enemy here and that private education would solve the problem altogether: the problem with this isn't that education "isn't the government's job", because this would be no less evil if it happened in a private school or at home (which it certainly does, only to a lesser extent). It's that forcing someone to sit in a room they don't want to be in and obey you is slavery, and it doesn't matter if you call it education. As much as I love to hate governments, this is something that can't really be blamed on statism.
The situation with spanking is honestly less severe, since they don't have to suffer it for hours every day and a lot of people recognize it as immoral, whereas school is hailed by most people as For Their Own Good. There's still a massive problem here though... you can tell even the people who preach against spanking are still affected by the double standard. They don't see as it the violent abuse it is. They don't believe they should treat it the same way as an adult striking a disabled person. But hell, sometimes small children are physically assaulted in public by their own parents, and everyone just turns a blind eye. It's just "not your place" to interfere... I cowered from protecting the victim the last time I was tested. This is what all forms of violence depend on: those who would otherwise defend the victim being convinced that it's "not their place".
That "not your place" concept is a much more deeply connected root of evil than most realize, and appears in a lot of other places. For example, in some households (this was the case in my own childhood), children are even taught that if they're wronged by a sibling, they have to go get an adult to help, and they're actually wrong to fight back on their own, even if they'd be taking the exact same actions as the adults. They're already being trained to be statists: to think that not only is authority not subject to the same rules as oneself, but authorities are the only ones who have the right to enforce the rules.
Does the rule "it doesn't matter who started it" sound familiar to you? I was told that. Thankfully, even despite my catholic upbringing, my parents never managed to persuade me of that one. Of course, it definitely does matter who started it when an authority shows up. Or maybe the rule is that violence is just always okay when an authority does it. In practice, it seems to be the latter.
One of the most important things to notice is that for all intents and purposes, "authority" is defined as "whoever has the power to force you". The people children are trained to see as authorities are: parents, school teachers, both to a degree decreasing as they age; and finally, the government. The government remains an "authority" for the rest of one's life, solely because it can and will imprison you if you defy it.
HeartyHuman tweets about schools a lot, and while it didn't take them to make me see how evil the practice is, it helped me realize that it's a much more severe problem than I used to think. There is one difference between racial slavery and modern child abuse, and it's that this time, the superficial trait it's based on encompasses all of us. It's all of us for part of our lives instead of some of us for all of it. That doesn't make it remotely okay, but I think it illuminates how it's so easy to excuse to oneself. Because the people doing the child abuse were once children too, and they were treated as property as too. When you grew up a slave to your elders... it's easy to want to enslave others when you become the elder. It's "not any individual being abused, just the way society works". After all, you know they'll "get over" it in a decade, and... unfortunately, you're right.
Many of us would have to turn around and see our own parents as violent abusers to confront the truth that children are people. I've already done that... I never let go of the memories. I think if I had I'd have never turned Protagonist.
Rechelon has another excellent piece on this. Reading it is almost certainly a better use of your time then whatever else you were planning on.