TEENS AND WICCA
Legal, family and safety issues
Legal matters involving Wiccan teens
In the United States, persons under the age of 18 are regarded as being
under the almost absolute control of their parent(s) / guardian(s). Parents
have essentially total direction of the religious environment of their
Canada is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the
Rights of the Child. In theory, this gives some rights to children who want
to deviate from the religion of their parents; however this right has not, to
our knowledge, been tested in the courts.
In short, teens under the age of 18 have little or no freedom of religious
assembly, education, or practice unless they first receive permission of a parent or
guardian. Individuals who teach or otherwise involve young people in different
religions or spiritual paths without the prior approval of their parents can
find themselves in serious legal difficulties.
Restrictions severely limits the options of young Wiccans:
||Wiccan covens and study groups will generally require the written
permission of a parent or guardian before allowing potential members
under the age of 18 to join or be involved with educational classes.
||Many libraries and homes have censorship software
installed on their Internet access computers. Some of these programs
arbitrarily prevent users from accessing any web site containing the word
"witch" or "occult".
||A very few school boards have dress codes that
prohibit the wearing of non-Christian religious jewelry such as pentacles.
These restrictions make it difficult for Wiccans to recognize fellow
Handling the parent/child problem
Most young Wiccans live with their parents, and are faced with the problem of
how to reveal their new-found religious beliefs with the rest of the family. Almost
all parents are deeply concerned about the welfare of their children. It is this
precisely this caring that can generate much conflict between a Cowan
(non-Wiccan) parent and a Wiccan child:
||Many parents have bought-into the alarmist rhetoric of the anti-cult
groups and counter-cult groups. They fear that one
of their children might fall into the clutches of a destructive cult, might
run away from home, and terminate all contact with the family. They fear
that all of the hopes and plans for their child's future will evaporate. The
chances of this happening in any religious setting are extremely
small; the probability of it happening to a Wiccan is vanishingly small,
Most of the common signs of destructive cults are
absent from Wicca.
||Parents probably base their beliefs about Wicca on misinformation and
disinformation. For centuries, Christian churches taught that Witches
are evil, dangerous worshipers of Satan. Some still do. Hollywood, children's
nursery stories, and other entertainment media have picked up the theme of
the evil Witch. It is only recently that positive portrayals of Wicca have
been broadcast. It is difficult to overcome these biases quickly.
||Most conservative Christian denominations teach that
Hell is a real place
of eternal punishment for those who have not repented of their sin and
trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior. Adults who follow these faith groups tend
to view one of their prime parental responsibility as bringing their children to a
state of salvation. The expectation that their child will
spend eternity being tortured in Hell death because of their belief in Wicca
is a terrifying thought to conservative Christian parents. It makes no
difference that Wiccans do not recognize the Christian God, devil,
heaven or hell. In fact, most Neopagans abandon the concept of eternal life
after death, and believe in reincarnation. What matters are the beliefs of the parents. There is no real
solution to this problem.
Some suggestions for the teen Pagan:
||You might start the process of informing your parents by sounding out
their beliefs about Wicca. Perhaps the family could view Sabrina or Charmed
Neither of these programs reflect actual Wiccan belief and practices.
However, by discussing the program with your parents afterwards, you might be able to
begin to understand their views.
||It may be best to use the terms Wiccan and Wicca rather than
Witch and Witchcraft. The former have well defined meanings. Witch
and Witchcraft has more different meanings than a cat has lives. We
have been able to uncover over a dozen definitions of the term - many of
them are mutually exclusive.
||Lauren Manoy's book Where to park your broomstick contains a
section directed to parents who have learned that their child is
interested in Wicca. Giving your parents this book to read might promote
their understanding of Wicca. 1
||You might read Nicky's Wiccan Pages for some specific recommendations on
introducing your family to Wicca. 2 Pagan Teen
Realm also handles questions asked by young pagans. 3
||You might direct your parents to an essay about Wicca that has been
written by a Christian writer. That article might have more credibility with
material from a Wiccan source. In 1999, when the first draft of this essay
was written, we recommended an essay by Paul Robertson at
the web site of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding.
Unfortunately, they had received threats from an organization which had
some problems with the article. So, they withdrew it. We now recommend a
series of articles by Philip S. Johnson titled "Wiccans and
Christians: some mutual challenges." 4
||You can join an online forum and exchange postings with fellow teen
Wiccans. See below.
||You can surf any of the Wiccan web sites written for teens.
There are leaders in all religions who are dominating,
manipulating and controlling. Wicca is no exception. Some are into financial gain; others seek sexual
exploitation; still others seek control and power. One should always be on the lookout for
people like this, no matter what your religion is. Some suggestions:
||Be extremely cautious about revealing any identifying information about
yourself: last name, home address, school name, etc. This applies to direct
personal contacts or over the Internet.
||When contacting another Wiccan or coven, arrange to meet first in a public
||Become familiar with other members of a coven, and with their beliefs and
practices, before committing yourself to join the group.
||Read some of the essays on this site which are linked to our cult
menu. If you detect some negative signs within your religious group
(Wiccan or any other religion), consider disengaging.
||Never reveal the name of a fellow Wiccan to anyone without permission.
Almost all Wiccans remain fully or partially in the (broom) closet.
Otherwise they risk harassment, and economic retaliation or physical assault
by some well meaning, highly devout but terribly misinformed cowans
such confidentiality from your fellow Wiccans.
Copyright © 1999, 2000 & 2002 by Ontario Consultants
on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2002-OCT-2
Author: B.A. Robinson