September 24, 2011

Common Decency

Filed under: Think About It!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 8:41 pm

Imagine someone is sitting on a couch, drinking a cup of juice, watching TV, just chilling, when suddenly she despite all care accidentally spills some juice on the cushion. Someone else sees this and screams at her for doing this. Doesn’t matter the spiller felt bad enough already for having done so. No, this other person felt the need to scream at her.

Goodness, I can see the second person not wanting her couch cushions stained but lighten up!

Oh, have I mentioned the first person is the young daughter of the second person?

Yet somehow that makes a difference here.

And there’s excuses for such different treatment. Had the spiller been the close in age sister or friend of the screamer, we’d have little trouble seeing her behavior as problematic, going nuts on someone for a small accident. Yet when the spiller is a child and the screamer her mother? Suddenly it’s all about “teaching her what she did was wrong”. And if there were a third person seeing or hearing about this scenario and dared to speak up saying “goodness, it was just an accident, not the end of the world” then would come the well-worn “don’t interfere with how I deal with my child!”

It’s considered virtuous perhaps to intervene or speak up, even if a total stranger, when you happen upon someone treating another in a harsh or abusive way. When it’s an adult treating a child in a harsh or abusive way, however, then the “correct” thing to do is ignore it and stay out of it.

In public, we see angry verbally-abusive parents and their small hurt teary-eyed offspring so often we don’t even notice it. How often have these children been called brats or spoiled or annoying or any other such nasty words by their parents and any other adults whose job it is to nurture and care for them? I mean, I’m not saying it’s really all that avoidable. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve said nasty things to my little brother now and then, but apologized right after. Trouble with many small children is they are treated this way so much they have no expectation of being treated better. And doing anything to give them that expectation, such as the simple act of sticking up for them when they are being treated harshly, is considered a sin against the sanctity of parental rights.

I mean, what if you saw a husband and wife in the grocery store, and the husband was repeatedly calling his teary-eyed wife a bitch, saying she was spoiled and annoying? People probably still wouldn’t intervene, but they’d be rightly horrified. And this is a scenario that we don’t see nearly as much, despite many husbands having these exact or worse negative feelings toward wives, because it is so socially unacceptable. But if this occurred in the home while there’s a visitor, the visitor might step up and try to get the husband to knock it off. It would be seen as cruel rather than “understandably frustrated parent”. And the upset wife would be justified in being upset, and just seen as a “spoiled brat” who probably is just upset nobody bought her ice cream.

And with all the hubbub about school bullying, especially when it comes to gay students, adults certainly don’t like kids being harsh and abusive toward each other and certainly want to intervene. Of course, any desire to intervene is based more on desire to control young people than to want to protect them from harm, even if they might genuinely believe the latter. Yet the adults retain the right to be harsh and abusive towards kids themselves, usually rationalizing it with something about protecting them or teaching them right from wrong. Funny, the aforementioned abusive husband should probably be taught right from wrong since, adulthood notwithstanding, he seems to not know that.

With that, I suppose we’ll just file common decency as something else that is withheld from children for no reason other than preserving adult superiority and the child as degraded humanoid property.

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