The Instigator
Pro (for)
5 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Sending children to public school is an act of child abuse

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/6/2012 Category: Education
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,080 times Debate No: 22625
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)




Please note that this argument is limited in scope to schools within the united states.


"Public school" - a state institution in which children are required to consume state-approved information, perform rituals and repetitive tasks, and obey state officials against their will (ie, they don't "want" to go to school, but they "have" to go to school).

"child abuse" - The infliction of pain, suffering, humiliation, or other physical, sexual and/or psychological harm onto a child, or the causing of trauma.

I contend that, while the experience of being in public school may not be perceived as child abuse by the victim, the perception of it being "abusive" is not required. (eg, many victims of childhood sexual abuse do not perceive it as being abusive at that time, and many victims of physical or verbal abuse may perceive that abuse as "normal", esp. if they witness other children of the same age being subject to the same kind of abuse).

I believe abuse can be demonstrated by looking at the following:
  1. The inherent nature of public schools.
  2. The predictable and measurable effects of public schools.
  3. The purpose of sending children to public schools, both historically and practically. (ei, what is the history of the public school system and why do parents send their children to public schools?)
  4. The experiences unique to and/or more probable in public schools, especially as compared to private schools and/or home schooling.



As the Con I will be arguing the side that sending your children to public school ISN'T an act of child abuse. Let the first round be acceptance. Please proceed with your argument.

Good Luck!
Debate Round No. 1


What is wrong with abusing a child?
When we use the term "child abuse", many of us get highly emotional. Images of neglect and abuse run through our minds, we see images of a child with bruises or the signs of neglect, and we get angry. We want to do something about those kinds of abuse - physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, and the abuse of neglect are all inherently unjust. We tend to think that child abuse and neglect occur in only dark shadows of the elusive "unfit" parent. However, I maintain that abuse is common in many other areas of life, though I admit that this is difficult to see when abuse is common, or when we don't want to admit it is abuse, or the abuse is even a part of society itself. In that case - we don't dare call it abuse.

The power imbalance between a defenseless child and a towering parental figure or adult is too often seen as a justification for behavior that we would never condone for any other kind of relationship. We use euphemisms to hide the horror of physically assaulting a defenseless child. We don't "hit" our kids, but we may "give them a spanking" every once in a while. We don't "yell at" our kids, but we may "raise our voice" every once in a while, to "show them who's the mommy" or "who's the daddy". Child sexual abuse is much more common than many people would like to believe, as it is seen by many that inflict it as "normal".

But how, you may ask, can the claim that sending a child to public school be in the same category? How could I label this "child abuse"? After all, it is the obligation of parents to ensure their child is educated and prepared for the real world. In fact, you may assert (quite correctly) that REFUSING to give your child a quality education can be seen as "abusive". If so, I agree, and that is one of the reasons sending a child to public schools is abusive.

The inherent nature of public schools is abusive.
Schools uses force - coercion, and the threat of punishment for non-compliance. We are not talking about punishment of destructive behavior, but punishment as an arbitrary consequence for disobedience - not obeying the commands of the state. They are funded by force and theft in the form of taxation, and the parents are threatened if they do not comply with the state's requirements -- threatened with multiple levels of itimidation and abuse. The euphemism "compulsory" is used to hide the force inherent in the public education system.

What do children actually learn in public schools:
1) First, they must learn the "rules" of the school system. That is to say, they must learn to sit down, be quiet, request permission to speak, request permission to use the bathroom, and obey the commands of "authority".
2) They must learn to perform boring, monotonous, repetitive tasks without complaint. They are encouraged to obey to please the 'authority".
3) They are to go only where they are told to be at the times they are told to be there. Autonomy (ei, "freedom") is expressly forbidden and will result in punishment by the authority figure.

Compulsory, standardized schooling does not educated children - it indoctrinates them.
Doesn't the fact that children learn in public schools compensate for these "necessary evils"?
Children will learn whether they are in public schools or not. Education occurs through the pursuit of information and the understanding of that information, and through the experience of making mistakes. What school provides is a framework for guiding the education of children. By imposing a framework onto the child regardless of the child's interests or aptitude (ie, schools will force all children to learn essentially the same things), they are actually RESTRICTING the information and understanding that a child could possibly have if the natural curiosity of the child were allowed to pursue a genuine education using a framework more appropriate for the individual child. As Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at MIT in Boston has said, "Education is a system of imposed ignorance".

How not to identify abuse:
Perceived normalcy - If a victim or abuser perceives the abuse as "normal", or if such abuse is ubiquitous across the culture, it is still abuse. We can imagine a culture in which an extreme level of abuse is common practice (for the sake of this argument, let's use genital mutilation of young children as a baseline for abuse that should never be accepted). Is it any less abusive if it is practiced by the majority of society? Is it any less abusive if people perceive it as "normal", or even "good"?


tyler42240 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Since you have forfieted your round, I will just close with some statistics taken from from the National Center of Children Exposed to Violence and offer a concluding statement:
  • 71% of public elementary and secondary schools experienced at least one violent incident during the 1999-2000 school year, according to school principals (Violence in U.S. Public Schools: 2000 School Survey on Crime and Safety, October 2003)
  • In 1999, 12% of 12- through 18- year-old students reported experiencing "any" form of victimization at school. (The Condition of Education 2002 Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, National Center for Education Statistics, June 2002.)
  • In 1999, 12- through 18-year-old students living in urban and suburban locales were equally vulnerable to serious violent crime at school. (Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2001)
  • Nationwide, 15% of high school students had participated in a physical fight in 1998. (Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1999 National Report, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1999)

In short, when we first enter school at six years old, we are curious, innovative, unique, creative and hopeful. When we get out of school, however, those attributes are all but gone, replaced with predictability, obedience and apathy, a before and after picture not unlike many other forms of abuse.


tyler42240 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by socratesone 6 years ago
TIED for the "most convincing arguments"? Really, 16kadams?

He forfeited both rounds, and yet both arguments were equally "convincing"?

I could have made baseless assertions, committed logical fallacy after logical fallacy, and used profanity and poor spelling - hell, I could have used 1337 5pe4cK, and it would have been a more compelling argument than not saying anything at all.

I think its obvious what is happening here. My case is air-tight, but they challenge people's sacred cows, and there is LITERALLY nothing to say in response. However, people are still voting that saying NOTHING is just as good of an argument? I wouldn't even be surprised if we got a couple of people to say that con won the debate. He didn't say anything you disagreed with, after all, so he must be right! Why would you bother with REASON and EVIDENCE if you already know what you're going to believe, anyway? I think most people decide how to vote as soon as they read the debate topic - no need to even look at what the "arguments" are.

I think I'm on the wrong web site, if this is the kind of blatant dishonesty and intellectual cowardice I should expect.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by RacH3ll3 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Good job pro. My vote goes to pro because pro not only did a good job, but con forfieted.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: FF