Tag Archives: child abuse

This Time, The Kid “Living His (Parent’s) Dream” Is Dead. Still Inspired?

teen-pilot-crash

Pointing out the breach of ethics when parents endanger children by allowing, encouraging, pushing, or forcing them to risk their lives before they are old enough to comprehend what risking their life means has been a periodic theme on Ethics Alarms. There was 16-year old Abby Sunderland, who had to be rescued from an attempt to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo. Paul Romero sent his son Jordan, 13, out to be the youngest to climb Mount Everest. In April of this year, the Coast Guard had to rescue the sick one-year-old of Eric and Charlotte Kaufman, who brought the baby and their three-year old along as they tried to circumnavigate the globe in their yacht. (Never mind, they all had life jackets.). Less likely to be fatal but epic in its length was the ordeal “the Biking Vogels” put their twin sons through, as they were forced to live on bicycles for years while their parents lived out their low-tech “Easy Rider” fantasies, peddling across America.

As was bound to happen, another set of parents in this unethical club  have met with tragedy of their own engineering. Haris Suleman and his father, Babar Suleman, from Plainfield, Indiana, were attempting to fly around the world with the newly licensed  teen piloting their single-engine aircraft. The journey, to be completed in 30 days, would have set a record. Gotta set those records!  The Biking Vogels were determined to set a record too.

As the plane piloted by a 17-year-old novice pilot took off from an airport in Pago Pago in American Samoa, it suddenly lost power and crashed into the water. The boy is dead; the father’s body has yet to be found. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Childhood and children, Family, Journalism & Media

The Unethical Opposition To Tennessee’s Fetal Drug Abuse Protection Law

200439961-001Tennessee is one of the most activist states that it comes to protecting children; for example, it has the among most stringent laws in the nation regarding the mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse. It also has a new law that just went into effect this month that allows officials to arrest mothers for assault who illegally use narcotics while they are pregnant if the child is born with symptoms indicating that the drug use impaired the child’s condition.

Predictable and tiresomely, the media and “war on women” scolds are attacking this is yet another incursion on the rights of women to have dominion over their own bodies. Think Progress, dishonestly, calls it a “pregnancy criminalization law.”  This is intentional misrepresentation, a TP specialty. The law doesn’t criminalize pregnancy in any way, by even the most distorted interpretation.  The knee-jerk opposition to the law highlights the problems of consistency and integrity that the women’s rights and pro-abortion forces have in all the areas relating to childbirth. Essentially, their position is that if conduct is related to child birth—or preventing it—in any way, anything they say, want or do must be accepted, and asserting otherwise, no matter what the justification, makes the government an oppressor of women. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioethics, Childhood and children, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Child Care Ethics And Leashes For Toddlers: CNN and Its Viewers Flunk An Ethics Alarm Test

Kids on leashes

It is constantly amazing to me that journalists so seldom identify obvious and critical ethics issues in the topics and events they cover. The rest is mixed emotions: this absence of ethics awareness is a serious culture-wide problem; then again, were this not so, I’d probably be in a different, and less stimulating profession.

Today I sat down to lunch as CNN engaged in a breathless discussion of whether using leashes on toddlers and even older children was a good idea, as it is either a growing trend among parents, or CNN was having a slow news day. The phone lines were open, and many viewers weighed in, with the primary camps expressing the following positions:

1. “If it makes children safer, then there is no reason not to do it. Safety is everything. Kids have been killed running into the street.  A leash will prevent that.”

2. “This shows the decline of child-rearing skills in the United States. If you can’t control your kid better than this, you are the problem.”

If the question of whether it was fair, kind, respectful or right to treat  your child like a cocker spaniel occurred to anybody in this discussion (I know the CNN staff never considered it), I saw and heard no evidence of this. Yet that is the central question, and it is an interesting one to consider. The fact that matters of human dignity, responsibility, respect, fairness, autonomy, kindness, proportion and prudence need to be balanced to answer the question at hand never came into the discussion, and those debating the issue demonstrated neither awareness of the competing ethical values, nor the ability to know how to employ them. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Dunces, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day #1: The Eventual Firing of Daniel Picca: Why Our Children Are Not Safe In Public School

child-endangerment

One aspect of Ethics Alarms that provides me with both satisfaction and pride is that participants in the events that sparked particular ethics commentaries sometimes comment on the posts, providing fascinating and useful perspective. Such a comment arrived yesterday, a heart-felt and wrenching testimony by a former student who was one of the many abused by teacher Daniel Picca, in Montgomery County (Maryland) schools. My post had focused on the fact that his proclivities were well known by 1995, yet it took school administrators until 17 years later to fire him.

I also note, ruefully, that the original post concluded by pointing out that the tendency of those in positions of authority to postpone confronting reality, to avoid confrontation and to rationalize inaction even in the face of undeniable peril to others was mirrored in the U.S.’s irresponsible approach to the conduct of the leadership in Syria and Iran. It was written in 2012.

Here is Sergio Madrid’s Comment of the Day on the post, The Eventual Firing of Daniel Picca: Why Our Children Are Not Safe In Public School:

As a former student, this is all true. I was too young to know it back then, but this man is a calculating monster. Reading this story does not surprise me one bit.

Back in the day (early 90′s – Rachel Carson Elementary), he had kids from my neighborhood help him come clean his classroom and we did challenges for candy. He had a closet FULL of candy. I can reflect that his “Picca Magical Dollars” was an excellent motivator in the classroom – it was also my neighborhood’s downfall for young boys at the time. The magical bucks were used to buy candy on Fridays (if we chose to spend our money) and that candy was the bait for young boys. We were too young to even know. After school, we would clean his classroom and he would have me sit on his lap. He would have me flex and he squeezed my muscles. I do remember one incident where he squeezed and did not let go. I squirmed in agony and would back and head butt him – busted his lip and he got up and yelled at me to leave his room and go home.

Too bad I’m late. I really wish I would have stepped up on this man. He IS a monster and let me tell you …. he single-handedly destroyed all my African American and Latino friends in 5th grade with his malicious words and style. They were targets from day one and NEVER recovered to be successful students in school. I still remember all this some 20-25 years later.

Although I do not know where he currently is, keep this man away from ANY schools with young children. If one person reads this – please understand it’s very real and true. I didn’t hide my real name. He was my 5th grade teacher. Real shame and sad to read these articles.

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Filed under Around the World, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Education, Government & Politics, Leadership, Workplace

The “Bernie” Sentence’s Message: The Lives Of Mean People Aren’t Worth As Much As Those Of Nice People

Jack Black as Bernie, the nicest murderer you'd ever want to know.

Jack Black as Bernie, the nicest murderer you’d ever want to know.

“Bernie” is a quirky 2011 movie telling a strange and true story. Jack Black plays Bernie Tiede, an oddly cheery mortician who became a small town community favorite for his kind deeds and upbeat manner. Bernie even befriends the town pariah, a mean, rich old woman named Marjorie Nugent (played by Shirley Maclaine) whom he managed to reform–slightly–until she finally became even too much for him to bear, and in 1996 he shot her dead.

He was loved, she was hated, and the community (Carthage, Texas) rallied behind the murderer even though he hid his friend’s body in a freezer for nine months and spent about 2 million dollars of her money.  The pro-Bernie bias was so strong  prosecutors had to seek a change of venue, since no local jury would convict him. They got it, and a jury that knew neither charming Bernie nor his nasty victim found him guilty (because he was) and sent him to jail for life in 1997.

After the film was released, however, attorney Jodi Cole took up Tiede’s appeal. She discovered that he had a collection of books aimed at survivors of sexual abuse, and got Bernie to admit, for the first time, that he was abused as a child. Cole hired a psychiatrist who testified that Tiede’s abuse probably influenced the murder and his willingness to endure an abusive relationship with Nugent, until he finally snapped. This changed the mind of Panola County District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson, who told a judge Tuesday that he supported reducing the sentence to time served. State District Judge Diane DeVasto agreed. Bernie is now a free man, living in the apartment over the garage of the man who directed the film about him.
Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Law & Law Enforcement, Romance and Relationships

KABOOM! A Teacher Sexually Molests A Middle School Student In Class (And The Daily Caller Thinks It’s Funny)

Well, there goes THAT suit...

Well, there goes THAT suit…

The latest KABOOM occurred when I read this report about Felicia Smith, a Houston 40-something middle school sexual predator masquerading as a teacher, who gave a a male student a lap dance in class, in front of his classmates, for his birthday.

I’m not going to reprint the details here; there are not levels of inappropriate lap dances for pre-teens. The teacher is under arrest; that’s not enough. A school that vets its teachers this negligently is a menace; a profession that allows a practitioner with such wretched judgement and such vile proclivities in its ranks is innately untrustworthy and an ugly sham. And a society that entrusts its vulnerable young to a system so corrupt and inept that this could occur is irresponsible.

One young  maniac attacks a school in New Town, and a national movement of fear is launched to remove a Constitutional right. Teachers sexually assault students nearly every day. What are schools doing about it? What are teacher unions and the education profession doing to protect potential victims? Where is the oversight? Does anyone believe that until she turned into a middle school stripper, Smith never demonstrated any suspicious tendencies? She just awoke one morning and decided that this was the day to give a child a lap dance? I don’t. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Kaboom!, The Internet

Kafka Middle School, New Jersey, Where Nothing Makes Sense, And Nobody Cares

The Trial

“I know you love these,” wrote the friend and reader who sent me the latest example of student abuse by school administrators who have lost their minds. No, I really don’t. They make me sick and angry and leave me with the feeling of having just stepped off the curve and had a bus whiz by close enough for me to feel the breeze. If this happened to my son, I could see myself snapping and going for the responsible administrator’s throat. This was not an inconsiderable factor is choosing to home school.

Glen Meadow Middle School (in Vernon, N.J.) seventh grader Ethan Chaplin told reporters that he was twirling a pencil with a pen cap on in math class when a student who harassed him earlier in the day shouted, “He’s making gun motions! Send him to juvie!”  As local school Superintendent Charles Maranzano explained, policy and law requires him to investigate any time a student is made  “uncomfortable” or threatened by another student. Thus it was that Ethan was summarily stripped, forced to give blood samples (which allegedly caused him to pass out) and urine samples, so he could be tested for drugs.  Four hours later a social worker cleared him to return to class, but a doctors decreed that a five-hour physical and psychological evaluation was necessary before the boy would be allowed back in school.

Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Education, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Government & Politics, Literature, Professions, Rights, U.S. Society

Worst Loving Parents Of The Year…I Hope

The Sailing Kaufmans. Make that the Sinking Kaufmans. The Stupid Kaufmans?

The Sailing Kaufmans. Make that the Sinking Kaufmans. The Stupid Kaufmans?

Last month, I wrote about the burglar who brought his infant offspring along with him on a job, which is to say, a burglary. It is fair to say, and thus I am saying, that San Diego parents Eric and Charlotte Kaufman, presumably known as “The Sailing Kaufmans” in honor of “The Biking Vogels,” make that burglar look like the Huxtables from “The Cosby Show.”

Oh, they are loving parents I’m sure, just like the doting professionals played by Bill Cosby and Felcia Rashad in the iconic sitcom. The problem is that they don’t have the sense bestowed by nature on the average adult lemur. Mom and Dad Kaufman brought their their 1-year-old daughter Lyra and her 3-year-old sister, Cora along with them as they embarked in March on the great adventure of sailing across the Pacific as the first leg of a planned circumnavigation of the globe.

In a 36-foot sailboat.

Alone.

With a toddler.

And an infant.

Morons.

Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Family, Health and Medicine, U.S. Society, War and the Military

Caring Letter From A Child Star

Sarah and the Baron.

Sarah and the Baron.

This is old—2005—but I just became aware of it, and it is an important document in the ongoing problem of the mistreatment of child performers.

I am a fan of film director (and Monty Python member) Terry Gilliam, and a great admirer of Canadian actress/director/political activist Sarah Polley, so naturally I love “The Adventures Baron Munchausen,”Gilliam’s epic fantasy that starred Polley when she was the tender age of 9, and gave one of the most impressive performances of any juvenile actress, ever. In 2005, Gilliam was filming another movie with a young star, and 17 years after working with him, Polley felt obligated to write this letter, which speaks for itself, and eloquently too:

Hi there, Terry.

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character

Unethical Website of the Month: “Smosh” OR “Let’s Give A Big Hand To The Hilarious Comedy of Will Weldon!”

Blurry face boy

In a twist, this Unethical Website found me. Smosh’s despicable montage titled by the ethically clueless creep who concocted it, Will Weldon, “19 Funniest Examples of Kid Shaming” includes, among its hilarious examples, the photo above from an Ethics Alarms essay I posted about a year ago, with a link back here. Weldon appears to have stolen his post idea from an earlier version of it on the website Heavy, this by an equally warped wag named Elizabeth Furey. Heavy would have been an “Unethical Website of the Month” if I had known about its post last May, and everything I write about  Smosh applies to Heavey, just as everything I write about Will applies to Elizabeth.

In the linked Ethics Alarms post, I specifically condemned the practice of  parents forcing children to hold up a sign “confessing” some transgression, taking a photo of him or her*, and posting it on the web.  I wrote:

“I think any aspect of a punishment that outlives the effects of the offense and a continues to do harm long after the original wrongdoer has reformed is unfair, abusive and cruel. If, as seems to be the case, the boy’s parents added to his punishment of having to return his Play Station 3 by first photographing the kid holding a sign describing his transgression, and then memorializing his humiliation by posting it on the internet, they took the lesson into unethical territory. Punishing their child for his spoiled and ungracious behavior by taking away a cherished gift is a legitimate exercise of parental authority, if a bit excessive for my tastes, especially at Christmastime. Turning him into the web poster child for ungrateful and spoiled children everywhere is, I believe, an abuse of that authority.”

I was feeling uncharacteristically equivocal that day, it seems, infused as I was still by the holiday spirit. Let me be more assertive now.  Dog-shaming using this device is a “thing’ on the web now, and such photos can be funny. Needess to say…or rather, it should be needless to say, but apparently I need to say it for people like Will and Elizabeth…children are not dogs. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Family, Humor and Satire, The Internet, Unethical Websites