Christopher asks: "How does the free society of the future deal with the very complex problem of parents who willfully do harm to their children?"
Good question. One such possible case, with tragic results, has been discussed before. But, what about "in general"?
First of all, a few explanations.
- Society doesn't deal with anything in Libertopia (or anywhere else); individuals do.
- Initiation of force is no one's right, regardless of relationship or age.
- And, lastly, "their children" is only an expression of relationship when other humans are being referred to; never ownership.
Yes, child abuse still happens in Libertopia. So does murder and theft. The difference is that there is no "legal" haven for the abusers anymore. Anyone can step in.
If a child is being abused there are plenty of people who will advocate or intercede for that child if he doesn't feel confident to take matters into his own hands.
However, if, in spite of being informed that he does not have an obligation to submit to any abuse, the child still wants to remain in the abusive relationship, no one has the right to save him. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen (especially when imprisonment/isolation prevents informing him of his choices), just that when it does happen, arbitration is a possibility. Remember, sometimes you just do what you feel you must, whether you have a right to do it or not, and accept the consequences of your actions.
In arbitration all the details of the situation are probably going to come out. If the parent feels confident that he can prove his innocence, then he will probably go ahead and insist on arbitration. If not, he may quietly stand down.
Also, remember that just about everyone here relies on a good reputation, and on good character underwriters* and insurers*, for just about everything. From arbitration insurance to business dealings. Refuse arbitration, or refuse to abide by its outcome, and you may be dropped like a hot coal by those you were previously involved with.
Remember that if you see someone being attacked in public in Libertopia, it would be a very strange thing indeed for no one to step in and rescue the person being attacked; to defuse the situation no matter what. Libertopians are almost universally armed and ready to come to the defense of anyone.
Hidden abuse is a little different, but someone will have a strong suspicion if it is happening, and there isn't much reason to look the other way. As long as certain steps are taken to make sure you don't go too far in your accusation, arbitration usually goes fairly easy on people who made honest mistakes when accusing someone of abuse, and restitution is normally not too high- plus concerned people often chip in to help. Plus, since there is no State to take away children on the basis of an unfounded accusation, parents who are exonerated usually don't feel too much resentment, since they would also have the best interests of the child at heart. (I've known of one case where an accused child abuser become a model parent after the accusation was dismissed- I suppose simply to avoid the appearance of problems in the future.)
I'm sure mistakes are probably made on occasion. But in just about everything, the child has the final say in where she wants to be, if he or she can speak or show a preference. As human beings, that is their right, even if you or I would disagree. It is the right of association.
I hope that answers your questions, Christopher.
(*I will have to go into all of this in more detail sometime.)