What was the scariest thing in the Harry Potter series?
I read it first when I was already an adult and later returned to it. Teenage Harry had to face giant spiders, evil wizards, the threat of his friends losing their lives. But I was scared most not when the Dementors tried to suck his soul out nor when Lord Voldemort was revealed at the back of Quirrel's head. The worst were the moments when - by chance or by anger - Harry got into trouble with his uncle and aunt. The worst monsters in the series for me were the Dursleys, two stupid middle-class people, spoiling their beloved son Dudley and treating orphaned Harry like a piece of shit. I was scared most when something bad happened and I thought, Oh God, what they will do to Harry now? Even though I knew they didn’t use physical violence. Words, humiliation and injustice can hurt just as much as beating.
Only in the 5th volume wasthere a monster much worse than Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia. It was Dolores Umbridge, Hogwarts Headmistress, placed there by the Ministry. I hated her much more than I hated Voldemort himself. At least he didn’t wear pink sweaters and he didn’t smile sweetly while hurting his victims. He was evil, but honestly evil.
Why were those three people more frightening for me than a three-headed dog or an army of death-eaters? Maybe because I never met a monster or evil wizard, but I faced many times an evil teacher and family member. Or maybe because when Harry was confronted with bad creatures, he was allowed or supposed to fight or even kill them. Against a teacher or parent, a child is defenceless. Children are forced to go to school and to live with their family.
To be humiliated, harmed, forced to do something one doesn’t want to do and to be where one doesn’t want to be. If such a thing happens to a human being, common sense protests against it: it’s a violation of human rights. But if it happens to a child, it’s “normal”. Maybe when it comes to physical violence, the liberal part of society will oppose. But the protection provided by the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights", something that we civilized people are so proud of, apparently does not include a child, teenager, or an adolescent even a day before their 18th birthday.
"Everyone charged has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty."
If a parent or a teacher is a prosecutor and a judge in one person, the proof is not necessary; their will is enough.
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression".
If a parent or teacher is listening, a child is allowed to hold any opinion; provided that the opinion is not contrary with the parent/teacher’s opinion.
"Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
Did the Dursley family or Umbridge's school keep Harry secure from emotional and physical harm? Such things happen to most kids and teens.
There was a dystopia by Philip K. Dick, "The Pre-persons": parents were allowed to kill the child before it was 12 and was able to perform algebraic calculations, which was the legal criteria of being an aware person. The difference between this concept and the actual power of adults over minors is only technical. Habit and the law still don’t grant human rights to humans aged 17 and younger, so they aren’t humans, apparently.