The Instigator
redlotus
Pro (for)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
larztheloser
Con (against)
Winning
2 Points

Should some forms of indoctrination be considered and punished as child abuse?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
larztheloser
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/1/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 961 times Debate No: 21625
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
Votes (3)

 

redlotus

Pro

Do you believe that some practices that occur during the indoctrination of a child or teen should be considered abuse and treated as such by the law? Some questionable practices could include:

*Refusal of medical care
*Forced ignorance, such as home schooling and not including science or history that is 'disagreeable'
*Food issues including fasting or lack of required nutrition

In general, any practice that is carried out on a child that causes physical or emotional pain or discomfort should be considered a dangerous, or questionable, indoctrination process that should be subject to the same laws as any other case of child abuse or neglect.
larztheloser

Con

I thank my opponent for setting up the debate.

This debate matters a lot to me. My mother regulary refused to give me medical care that some doctors would have considered essential, such as vaccinations. Many of my very best friends were homeschooled. And many more of my friends were (and still are) Muslims, meaning they fast during daylight hours for a whole month.

Meanwhile, all the other kids I knew grew up being given all sorts of medicines. I know people who had a bad reaction to a medication and have ended up disabled. There are kids who were given attention-deficit drugs (which one doctor tried to prescribe me at one point) who are now all addicts. In terms of school attendance records, I was always among the best, even though I did the least medically for myself. The point I'm trying to make is not to completely ignore doctors - they're undoubtably very smart people. But to put up parents as "child abusers" when they may actually be saving that child's life seems incredibly unfair. Medicine is still a surprisingly unrefined art, and there is still much about the human body we don't know. Many doctors can't even decide if marijuana, a drug that has been with us for thousands of years, is good or bad for us! Why then force parents to trust them over prescription drugs that have only been around for a dozen years or so?

When I was at school, I was bullied quite frequently. Not by the students - I got along very well with my peers - but school teachers and principles loved to pick on me. After a while, the students would follow suit - and the teachers would laugh at me for it. This happened at four schools, spanning two school districts, until I eventually found a school where it wasn't so bad. These are all problems that my homeschooled friends avoided. They still got lots of social interaction, but that was usually in better environments, such as after-school activity groups where the parents could moderate what went on. That's a very good reason why many parents homeschool. Why assume, then, that knowledge was withheld from the child? Given the motive is rarely to brainwash the child but more often to protect them, why would you ASSUME that they were brainwashed if they were homeschooled? And how would you prove it? You can't rely on the child's memory of what was taught because children forget a lot of what they're taught (just like adults do), and you can't rely on the parent because either way they'd say they weren't brainwashing. So you can't prove this, you have to assume it, which is absurd given the motive.

Nutrition is a complex issue. I went to one poor school where many parents would love to give their kids food, but literally couldn't afford more than two meals a day for their children. These parents clearly need support, not to be locked away as child abusers! Besides, the required nutrition varies much from child to child. What is a healthy meal for one child may be very unhealthy for another, and the limits around that are often debated by nutritionists. This is made more complicated by the lack of clarity surrounding what exactly is "nutritious" - recently in my country they put mandatory folate in bread to help resolve pregnancy issues, but there was much opposition from groups who believed it increased the rate of prostate cancer. So mandating minimum levels of carbohydrates, vitamins, sodium, calcium etc for children to be nutritious seems like a futile exercise, not to mention a ridiclious burden on parents. As I alluded to earlier, many of my Muslim friends would fast for an entire month and suffer no serious ill effects. Why should this religious freedom be called child abuse, when clearly the children are not suffering "abuse"?

The BOP is on pro here. Pro must disprove all of the above. If they can't, then that means the forms of indoctrination she talked about do not qualify as child abuse. Therefore, there's no harm in sticking to the status quo - giving parents the option to do what's right for their child.

So, that being said, I wish my opponent very good luck and look forward to the next round!
Debate Round No. 1
redlotus

Pro

Thank you larztheloser,

You have made some very good points, in fact, a couple of great points that I had previously seen mentioned about this exact topic. It is also important to keep in mind that I posted "could include," when making specific suggestions on what that indoctrination could include. Your points are still very valid however as you brought to the table an important element describing how different religious backgrounds or beliefs could help to determine if something is done in an abusive/careless manner, or because it is in fact, a long standing ritual or tradition.

As you noted yourself, perspective can mean everything.

As I mentioned, I have been over this argument plenty of times. The thing that inspired me to write about it again was a recent local 'baptism' that took place in a city near me. This was done in the middle of winter, when outdoor temperatures were in the 30's and 40's, and water temp significantly colder. It is vital to note that in my region of the US, that had this been done by any other group besides Christians, most likely child protective services would have been involved. And what if the people doing it claimed they were practicing 'Satanism', I can promise you their kids would have been taken from them in a court of law.

And again, we both know the very reality of how one group of folks may see something as character building, or an important part of their religious beliefs, the other side may see it as outright abuse.

Again, regardless, I am very impressed with your answer. However, let us pretend that I never named a specific when it comes to child abuse, and ask if you have ever heard of a practice of indoctrination that YOU felt was 'over the line', 'going too far', or just outright violence.

Thanks again!
larztheloser

Con

You're welcome! Great, so it seems like we have an agreement over at least one thing - the importance of perspective. In this round I'll respond to my opponent's case and finally clarify one of my contentions.

My opponent writes of a recent horrifically-carried-out baptism. The problem with the baptism was not that some kids were "indoctrinated" at the ceremony (most baptisms are more like a confession than a lecture), it was they were exposed to extremely cold temperatures. This is an important example, because to me it demonstrates the fine line between physical child abuse (beating your child up with a sword and other stuff which, between adults, would be called "assault"), and mental child abuse (stuff like teaching your children they have no self worth or training them to be sex slaves are extreme examples). Indoctrination (teaching people to accept doctrines no matter what) is mental child abuse. This devastating case was physical child abuse, and therefore a "red herring" in debate terminology.

You probably think my two "extreme" examples of child abuse are really bad - and by the way, those are two particulary bad real-life examples (or at least if the media is to be believed), not stuff I made up. In each case, however, the message is completely undermined unless coupled with physical child abuse, as indeed happened in both of these situations. For instance, teaching children they have no self worth is self-refuting if you ever feed them. Teaching children to be sex slaves is silly unless they are forced to perform sex acts, which is covered by quite unrelated abuse laws. In my country we recently had a case of a woman who tattooed hateful messages into her 6 year old daughter. She wasn't convicted of any indoctrination, but simply on the grounds that it's unsafe to tattoo anything into a child so young. My point is that while I can think of examples of where the "line was crossed", I can't think of a single example of where this "bad indoctrination" actually went unpunished on physical abuse grounds. My view, therefore, is that just going after the physical abuse is enough.

Finally, while my opponent is correct to point out that my argument was mostly dealing with the importance of perspective, another theme I think I wanted to develop is how difficult these things are to prove. What the attorney would need to prove is, depending on the case, all of the things I talked about last round. So for instance, if the attorney proved somebody refused medical care, they would then need to prove that the child would not be better off without that medical care. This is incredibly difficult to do, and thus any law would likely prove ineffectual.

I look forward to reading pro's continued rebuttal.
Debate Round No. 2
redlotus

Pro

I absolutely agree in almost all cases, most especially one that lays the label of 'child abuser' on any parent, that each case should be handled with personalization for each case. Again, and yes agreed, perspective means everything. I am not a 'fan' of religion being used as an excuse to carry out any action on anyone that could be considered emotionally or physically damaging, however, I am aware of cultural discrepancies that would lend to an individuals perspective being called into judgement.

I want share the following from http://www.hughlafollette.com...

THE ISSUES

"""Most of us presume that freedom of religion is important. We are repulsed at the thought of someone forcing her religious views on us or others. "We want the option of believing and behaving as we wish--particularly on matters as significant as our religious beliefs. Although important, these rights are not unlimited. If a person's religious expression harms another, it can be legitimately restricted. Human slavery and sacrifice, for example, are impermissible even if prescribed by one's religion. Likewise for religious beliefs or practices which might harm one's children. For instance, the courts have consistently held that a parental decision to withhold necessary medical treatment from a child harms that child's interest (Wallace v. Labrenz 104 NE 2nd 769). In these situations the state may legitimately require necessary medical care even if the parent's sincere religious conviction forbids it.

The courts, however, have been reluctant to interfere with parental decisions except when the child's life or physical health is threatened. Though this reluctance is in many ways understandable, it is unjustified. Children's interests should have more weight than most courts presently grant them. Or so it seems to me.

The crucial (though heretofore ignored) question is: can the parents legitimately demand that the children be shielded from beliefs to which they (the parents) object? Does the fact that the children purport to agree with the parents have any legal weight? The parents claim the constitution gives them the right to have their children opt out of reading these "offensive" books and to be exposed only to texts which express views identical with their own. Are the parents right?

Before I address these questions, let me quickly review the facts of the case: the parents challenged the use of certain readers in elementary reading class. The readers in question depict children who question parental authority, discuss situation ethics, consider the tenability of divergent religious beliefs, and advocate tolerance of opposing views--views to which the parents of the children strenuously object.

Claims akin to these have been previously recognized by other courts. For example, in Moody v. Cronin (484 F. Supp. 270) children were exempt from physical education classes because their parents thought exposure to students dressed in shorts would incite unwholesome urges. In Wisconsin v. Yoder (406 U.S. 205), Amish children were exempt from high school since their attendance would presumably undermine the Amish way of life advocated by their parents.

However, even in these cases where the courts have ruled against parental claims (as in Mozert), they did not justify the decisions by express appeal to the interest of children. In most cases, they did not even mention the children's interests. Instead they cited some "compelling state interest" which presumably justified overriding the parental claims. Nonetheless, I think we can discern a deep and pervasive confusion about the scope of parental right and the children's interests. ""

I am absolutely FOR freedom of religion, but there are many instances, without directly quoting or citing them, that have proven extremely harmful, such as child marriages in the Mormon faith. I'd definitely like to hear your take on that.

Considering the great morality debate, part of which is seen here http://theevolvingatheist.wordpress.com... that I found when traveling the net, I do not believe that it is possible to argue in favor of a practice that sends very young girls into 'adult' relationships at such ages as 12 to 15.

Thoughts?

Also, I apologize if anything here is out of line or outside of guidelines, I am relatively new here and still getting used to things!
larztheloser

Con

Alright, so the question is now whether child marriages and shielding children from some kinds of learning should be allowed (thanks for all the reading material by the way, I tried to spend some time reading it and thinking on it). I'll deal with the issues starting with child marriage.

If child marriage was illegal, Mormons would call it "adoption." They'd bring the children together under one parent's home and the children would continue as if married there. The ceremony would be carried out in secret, and repeated for official purposes when the children were old enough to marry. The only result of this is that the marriage is covered up and secret. I'm not a big fan of child marriage, not because of any guarenteed emotional harm (there's virtually no evidence that people in medieval Europe or large parts of China were all emotionally scarred because of marrying as children) but because in Western societies, "child marriage" is often used as a cover for "child abuse" (note that marriage does not automatically connote an adult relationship, only a legal relationship - but many religions get this wrong). Churches are far less likely to be able to cover this kind of stuff up when it's out in the open. When child marriages have to be conducted in secret, well, I guess there's going to be a whole lot of pedophiles changing their religion. We have illegal child marriage in our country, but then we don't have a lot of Mormons, so its never been a problem. If this ever changed, I'd rather legalise it than let another church orchestrate a cover-up. Catholicism and Judaism have recently proven just how bad that can be for children.

Having said that, I think child marriages are a practice that will die on its own. Take medieval Europe as an example. Young princes spent all their time at study (sword fighting, alchemy, ceremony, math ... that sort of thing) and were given little time for play, which is important for a child's development. Marriage allowed them to have time with another child of their age. Indeed, most kings who married as children ended up being more respectful towards women than those that didn't. Young princesses also had it in their interests to marry, because their family had little use for them otherwise. Girls were considered unsuitable to run a kingdom, and so were often treated poorly by their family until they were sent to be married. It also allowed them to learn their womanly duties in the very location where they'd usually spend the rest of their lives. Both sets of parents were also advantaged, as they each gambled the other child would die sooner, giving them a share of the inheritance. Today, none of these justifications still survives. Unsurprisingly, the Christian church is now, in most of its denominations, completely opposed to child marriage. Religions pretend to be dogmatic, but they're really not - just look at how fast Christians in America flip-flopped about slavery. It took them less than 75 years! Child marriage took about 150 years before Christians stopped doing it. Islam (and Hinduism, to some degree) is currently in a transition phase - some clerics do it, others abhor it - but this may be partly due to the backward social conditions in many Islamic countries. And of course there are many religions that still do it, despite very strong public pressure to change. My belief is that, like all other religions, they too will eventually succumb. You don't need a law to create a change in religious values that are already changing. Religious people don't like to be constrained by laws, so if anything, you'll just encourage them. At least this way one can have transparency in the process, to make sure the children are not taken advantage of.

I hope that deals with that issue. Now on to freedom of religion and what things parents can teach children.

This is another touchy issue because many parents don't know any better themselves. One example is evolution. It's easy for people like me, who have grown up learning about science, its limitations and discoveries, to evaluate the evidence on evolution and decide that it's probably true. For another person, growing up going to church every Sunday, where a fundamentalist preacher explains why evolution is wrong and creationism is correct, it would be very easy to reject evolution. Other people grow up in what I call "fundamentalist secular" households, where they are taught the evidence for evolution but not the counterarguments, and where religious talk is generally not tolerated. So when my hypothetical friends and I teach our kids about evolution, we're likely to each paint a very different picture of evolution - but more importantly, we'd all think we're right. This does not necessarily only apply to religion, by the way. It applies to things like political freedom - some parents are, for instance, going to teach children to hold views that are generally more left than right wing, and vice versa. It's very hard to prove that the parents were not simply trying to teach children what they thought was the truth.

Of course, when people like me point out all the evidence to evolutionists, the fundamentalist secular people scream "I told you so!" and the evolutionists mumble some garbage about freedom of religion - "I am free to believe this is true even if it isn't." That's a sad thing, in my view, because they're really both as bad as each other. It is POSSIBLE (though extremely unlikely) that evolution is a myth, just as it is possible that everything in the movie "2012" will come true, or that "The Lion King" is a true story. But of the two fundamentalists, only the wrong one will ever get prosecuted, only one will be forced to have their children learn what they so desperatly believe to be the truth, even though both would probably equally "indoctrinate" children. I don't think that's fair to anybody, but least of all to the children themselves. I fear living in a society where we are told by the state what to tell our children, only because a majority of experts thinks that to be the truth, or a society where education of children was the exclusive domain of whoever was in political power at the time. I should add that even people like me don't always accept the scientific explaination on the evidence. Sometimes I look at the science and think there isn't enough evidence, such as with man-made global warming.

My theory, though I don't expect my opponent to agree with it, is that schools should teach the method and history of science. Rather than say "humans evolved from apes," students should be taught "x evidence suggests that humans may have evolved from apes." If the evidence is really compelling, students will choose that theory. If not, they will stick with what they believe. Of course, both forms of fundamentalists reject my idea, and teachers are often extreme fundamentalists in their beliefs as well, just to complicate things. Regardless, I don't think this kind of indoctrination is child abuse. I think it's usually just ignorance.

What about the interests of children? Well, I believe interests of children are best served when we're honest with them, and I do genuinely believe that between me and my two hypothetical friends, I am closest to the truth. Not that I'm unbiased or anything! I'm sure the other parents will say that what they tell their children is in the child's best interests. For the children's part, they don't know any better. So it's all like a big subjective blame game that really benefits nobody. It's probably best for the government to step aside.

So that's my answer to both my opponent's question about things like child marriage and her article, which I must admit was quite interesting nonetheless. Sorry that this is so long, I probably got a bit carried away (and I've only got 6 characters left!). I'd like to thank my opponent again for this debate-like discussion and apologise if there's anything major I missed from the articles.
Debate Round No. 3
redlotus

Pro

redlotus forfeited this round.
larztheloser

Con

Well, that's disappointing. Vote con!
Debate Round No. 4
redlotus

Pro

redlotus forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by larztheloser 5 years ago
larztheloser
... I suppose I could go on the forums and ask for conduct points there, but I keep forgetting those exist.
Posted by larztheloser 5 years ago
larztheloser
I give myself one point if nobody else has voted or commented on the debate, my opponent has forfeited, my opponent hasn't logged in since the debate, and it's the last day of voting. If somebody cares enough about the debate to counter it, then I think a tie is fair. As to how I do it, I pray to Saint Isidore (patron saint of databases) that my one point be added. Most people fail to pray to the right saint for this kind of thing.
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
Larz how did you vote for yourself???
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
redlotuslarztheloserTied
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro left
Vote Placed by 16kadams 5 years ago
16kadams
redlotuslarztheloserTied
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Reasons for voting decision: counter
Vote Placed by larztheloser 5 years ago
larztheloser
redlotuslarztheloserTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I still hate ties.