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Are Obese Kids Victims of Child Abuse?

By Theodore Dalrymple

Nothing illustrates better than child abuse the tendency of ill-defined but nevertheless meaningful concepts to spread beyond their original signification to include more and more phenomena.

Recently I was asked by BBC radio to discuss (in three minutes flat) the question of whether morbidly obese children were the victims of abuse by their parents. By coincidence, the Lancet of that week published an editorial on the psychological abuse of children and what doctors could or should do about it.

Nothing illustrates better than child abuse the tendency of ill-defined but nevertheless meaningful concepts to spread beyond their original signification to include more and more phenomena. The evolutionist Richard Dawkins has even suggested that to bring up children in any particular religious faith is a form of child abuse, since the child’s subsequent freedom to choose his beliefs according to the evidence is thereby impaired: in which case the history of all previously existing societies is not that of class struggles, as the Communist Manifesto has it, but of child abuse.

The editorial in the Lancet referred to a report on the psychological maltreatment of children by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the general drift of which was that such maltreatment is protean in nature and has bad effects upon children later in life, from mental illness and criminality to inability to form close relationships and low self-esteem. Maltreatment is dimensional rather than categorical: at what point does “detachment and uninvolvement” give way to “undermining psychological autonomy”?

Likewise “restricting social interactions in the community” can be a form of maltreatment, but so can failure to do so, in so far as association with undesirables might “encourage antisocial or developmentally inappropriate behavior.” Parenthood is thus a constant navigation between various Scyllas and Charybdises, and is rarely entirely successful.

Surveys show that about one in sixteen people in Britain and America consider themselves to have been the subject of psychological abuse in childhood. I count myself as among the abused.

by Anonymousreply 801/09/2013

Sometimes, yes. I saw a Dr. Phil show with a really obese toddler who was literally overfed by his mother so he would never "leave" her in the mom's words. He was so fat he rolled across the floor. She fed him adult sized portions of carb heavy foods, no veggies, liters of sodas and huge bowls of ice cream.

by Anonymousreply 101/08/2013

Shut up R2. I'm a female with kids and I consider morbidly obese kids abuse to some extent.

by Anonymousreply 301/08/2013

Yeah you have to know how to fix a clock in order to tell time

by Anonymousreply 401/08/2013

And yet these welfare queens complain it's impossible to live on food stamps, yet they are all obese and their kids are obese too.

by Anonymousreply 501/09/2013

Fat adults is one thing, but fat kids don't know any better.

by Anonymousreply 601/09/2013

A lot of abused kids have eating issues, for sure.

by Anonymousreply 701/09/2013

yes.

by Anonymousreply 801/09/2013
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