Tag Archives: child abuse

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

The Fifth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2013 (Part Two of Three)

Snowden

The Ethics Alarms review of a truly disheartening year in ethics continues with fallen heroes, ficks, fools and follies with Part Two of the 2013 Worst of Ethics awards….and there’s one last section to come. Be afraid..be very afraid:

Fallen Hero of the Year

Edward Snowden, whose claim to civil disobedience was marred by his unwillingness to accept the consequences of his actions, whose pose as a whistle-blower was ruined by the disclosure that he took his job with the intention of exposing national secrets, and whose status as a freedom-defending patriot lies in ruins as he seeks harbor with not only America’s enemy, but a human rights-crushing enemy at that. The NSA’s over-reach and mismanagement is a scandal, but Snowden proved that he is no hero.

Unmitigated Gall of  The Year

Minnesota divorce lawyer Thomas P. Lowes not only violated the bar’s ethics rules by having sex with his female  client…he also billed her his hourly fee for the time they spent having sex , a breach of the legal profession’s rule against “unreasonable fees.” Yes, he was suspended. But for not long enough…

Jumbo Of The Year

(Awarded To The Most Futile And Obvious Lie)

Jumbo film

“Now, if you had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”

—–President Obama

2013 Conflicts of Interest of the Year Continue reading

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Vote For The 2013 Curmie, Designating The Worst Of Misconduct In The Name Of Education

...and middle school, and elementary school....

…and middle school, and elementary school….

Over at Rick Jones’ Curmudgeon Central, the final nominees for his not-so-coveted 2013 Curmie Award are up, and the winner will be determined by the vote of Rick’s readers. The Curmies memorialize the worst in U.S. conduct by education professionals, and a revoltingly diverse group of miscreants he has assembled. I urge you all to drop by, read Rick’s commentary (and about some of the awful incidents that didn’t make the cut), and vote.

Only three of Rick’s final eight were covered on Ethics Alarms, and while I am confident that the ultimate winner is among them, I am now second guessing my editorial judgment. Rick’s blog is more education-centric than Ethics Alarms ( his work has filled the gap created when the excellent “No Tolerance” blog went down), but I’m trying to recall why I passed on the other six, particularly Alex Evans and his imaginary grenade, and the student suspended for disarming another student. I think I was getting so sick of post-Sandy Hook hysteria when the invisible grenade story came out that I just couldn’t write about another one just then. The other one…well, as Rick notes, there were some complicating factors, but I should have covered it. Luckily Rick Jones was on the case, and did his usual excellent job.

Here, with Rick’s descriptions and links to his commentary, are the nominees:

Principal Greer Phillips of PS 79 (the Horan School) in East Harlem for conducting a completely unannounced (to teachers, to the police…) lockdown drill less than a week after the horrors at Sandy Hook Elementary. In aggravation: outrageous timing and an incompetently run drill complete with contradictory instructions, but also the makeup of the student body (a high percentage of students with emotional or cognitive problems). In mitigation: I can’t think of a thing. [Ethics Alarms commentary here.]

Principal Valerie Lara-Black of Mary Blair Elementary School in Loveland, Colorado for suspending 2nd-grader Alex Evans for throwing an imaginary grenade into an equally imaginary box containing “something evil.” In aggravation: this is stupid behavior even if there’s something tangible. In mitigation: there’s probably some idiotic zero tolerance policy that purports to justify if not demand these flights of inanity.

Principal Tracey Perkins of Cypress Lake (FL) High School for suspending a 16-year-old student because he disarmed another student, a football player who was threatening a teammate with a loaded gun. You see, he was “involved in an incident in which a weapon was present.” In aggravation: apart from the sheer idiocy the charges, they were changed after the school started being (quite rightly) embarrassed by the publicity. In mitigation: it is possible that the boy was indeed uncooperative with the ensuing investigation.

Principal Carla Scuzzarella of North Andover (MA) High School for stripping Erin Cox from her volleyball team captaincy and suspending her for five games because she went by a party where there was alcohol long enough to drive a drunken friend home. In aggravation: the police statement makes it clear that Ms. Cox had not been drinking, and the policy manual makes a specific point about the folly of guilt by association. In mitigation: there are reports that she was at the party longer than it would have taken just to collect her friend.

Officials at Dietrich (ID) High School for reporting science teacher Tim McDaniel to the school board and the state professional standards commission, allegedly for using the word “vagina.” Yes, in a biology class. In aggravation: Mr. McDaniel seems to be being penalized for the precise reason that he was doing his job. In mitigation: it is unclear to what extent the school per se was responsible for the brouhaha, although they clearly did little to prevent it.

Batavia (IL) High School and their equally incompetent school board for punishing social studies teacher John Dryden. His crime? Reminding his students of their 5th amendment rights while distributing a survey that could indeed have led to self-incrimination. In aggravation: the survey, with students’ name on it, was a clear invasion of student privacy, motivated by the usual nannyish hogwash. In mitigation: Dryden did react without checking with school officials about the intents of the survey. [Ethics Alarms commentary here.]

The unnamed teacher at Boles Junior High in Arlington, Texas for pouring pencil shavings into the mouth of 8th-grader Marquis Jay, and to the authorities who cravenly gave her a slap on the wrist. In aggravation: you need aggravation??? In mitigation: the boy deserved some punishment—he was at best inattentive—and it seems to have been an unpremeditated and isolated incident. [Ethics Alarms commentary here.]

Principal John Hynes of Grace Brethren High School in Simi Valley, California for the completely unauthorized action of changing the grades of at least one student (possibly several, including his own daughter), and the spineless board who allowed him get by with little punishment. In aggravation: it’s a short step from what has been admitted to and what has been alleged, which would be an outrageous abuse of power. In mitigation: with the exception of the one case, the allegations come almost exclusively from a now-former teacher. This may not be the most objective of sources.

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Ethical Burglar Of The Year (Assuming Santa Doesn’t Qualify)

Now this is an ethics category you don’t see very often!

"Let's hope that I do not, while gathering my swag, encounter evidence of a crime that, unlike burglary and theft, my personal value system regards as repugnant, for then, as a responsible citizen burglar, I would be ethically obligated to report it to law enforcement officials, thus placing myself at greater risk of arrest..."

“Let’s hope that I do not, while taking valuables and property from the private residence I am about to break into, encounter evidence of a crime that, unlike burglary and theft, my personal value system regards as repugnant, for then, as a responsible citizen burglar, I would be ethically obligated to report it to law enforcement officials, thus placing myself at greater risk of arrest…”

In Spain, a burglar  broke into the home of a trainer for a kids soccer team, and discovered a collection of child pornography, including self-made recordings of the homeowner sexually abusing children as young as ten. The burglar placed an anonymous call to local police and said he left the evidence in a car, along with a note on which he wrote the apparent pedophile’s address. “I have had the misfortune to come into possession of these tapes and feel obliged to hand them over and let you do your job, so that you can lock this … up for life,”  the burglar told police in his message.

The trainer has been arrested and charged;  one of his victims, who is now 16, told authorities she had been abused since the time she was 10.

A few ethics observations on an intriguing case: Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Citizenship, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement

Six Questions Raised By A Horror Story I Wish I Had Never Read

I don't ant to live in a culture than could produce these people. Unfortunately, I have no choice.

I don’t want to live in a culture than could produce these monsters. Unfortunately, I have no choice.

Occasionally I read a news item that makes me question my illusions, my optimism, my aspirations, and the rationality of hope. The saga of Jonathan and Sarah Adleta, a couple whose match was made in Hell and whose crimes sound like the rejected plot submission of a Law and Order SVU script writer whose mind has snapped, is just such a story, perhaps the most disturbing I have ever encountered.

If you continue reading, consider yourself warned.

After college student Sarah Adleta became pregnant with Jonathan Adleta’s child and tests showed that the fetus was female, Jonathan told her of his long-held fantasy about having incestuous sexual intercourse with a daughter. A deal was struck: he would marry Sarah, if she agreed to allow him to have sex with their daughter as soon as it was possible. Continue reading

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Jimmy Kimmel, Child Abuse, And Signature Significance

In Jimmy's defense, Japan thought "Kill the Chinese!" was funny too...

In Jimmy’s defense, Japan thought “Kill the Chinese!” was funny too…

What a surprise—Jimmy Kimmel did something despicable involving children.

This time, the smug and unethical-to-his-very-DNA ABC late night host may have also triggered an ethics train wreck. Perhaps at last the network and his tasteless, enabling viewers will finally conclude what has been obvious for years—that Jimmy is a cultural corrupter whose miserable methods and values should be rejected, condemned, and sent packing to an obscure corner of table TV!

Nah.

Kimmel’s latest hilarious stunt aired on Oct. 16, in a segment called “Kids Table,” where Funny Uncle Jimmy asks small children who have no idea what is going on or  that a creepy middle-aged man is luring them into saying things that will haunt them on Youtube until the day they die to comment on issues of the day. This time, Mirthful Machiavellian Jimmy caught comedy gold: when he asked a six-year-old how the U.S. could solve the $1.3 trillion trade imbalance, the giggling answer came back, “Kill everyone in China!”

Nice. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media

Your Introduction To “Private Re-Homing”

Puppy, child, what's the difference? The point is make it someone else's problem, right?

Puppy, child, what’s the difference? The point is t0 make it someone else’s problem, right?

Every time you see a national newscast take up valuable time telling us about Miley Cyrus, the Kardashians, Chelsea Clinton or the White House waterdogs, think about Inga, or Quita, victims of the increasingly common practice of underground adoption known as “private re-homing,” in which adopted children are traded around like dogs or kittens, and abused dogs and kittens at that.

I don’t have a lot of commentary about this horrible practice. My life was a little bit happier before it was brought to my attention. In the history of Ethics Alarms, perhaps the most upsetting story I have had to write about was the horrific conduct of Torry Hansen, a Tennessee mother who adopted a Russian child and then, finding that she couldn’t cope with his problems, put him, alone, on a plane bound for Russia with a note pinned to his jacket. I wrote that post with tears in my eyes; it upsets me to write about it now. Yet something very like what Hansen did to her son is being done via the internet, frequently and with little interference from the government or anyone else. I wish I didn’t know about this—no, that’s not quite right. I wish this wasn’t a feature of our society, so I wouldn’t have to know about it, much less write about it. Continue reading

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