On Liberals, Dignity, Dogs, Signature Significance and Toddlers On Leashes

But they LIKE it!

But they LIKE it!

The damndest essays ignite furious debates here. I raised CNN’s mid-day quiz about parents walking children on a leash-–did I mention it featured a video of one mother dragging her prone harnessed child through a store like the kid was a sack of potatoes? I should have—-primarily because 1) it reminded me of “The Simpsons,” 2) because I was struck by the fact that ethics was never brought into a conversation that I would deem as concerning an ethics issue, and 3) because it was notable that CNN wasn’t talking about sunken Malaysian airplanes.

Still, I have been enlightened by the unexpectedly lively discussion, if not encouraged. In particular, this never struck me as an ideological issue, but it certainly seems to be one. Upon reflection, I should have predicted it, though this is not flattering to liberals.

I’ll return to this in a bit.

The defenses of the demeaning practice have been mostly pragmatic, which involves a utilitarian argument: “It works, and the ethical violations either don’t exist, or are too small to care about.” The most annoying defense so far has required  intentionally taking a statement in my post literally that also has an important figurative message, as well as misstating even the literal meaning, all to make it easier to dismiss the intended point. That’s some kind of record for straw men. Or would that be straw dogs? No, I think that’s something else.

The phrase in question was “whether it was fair, kind, respectful or right to treat your child like a cocker spaniel…” To make it easier to attack, my critic has changed that to “…to treat your child in a manner associated with the treatment of dogs.” Sneaky. It is true that dogs are typically kept on a leash, but that is only half the message, as fair readers will acknowledge. The term “treated him-her-them like a dogs/dogs” means, and has meant for a very long time, treating a human being in an inhuman, demeaning, humiliating, unkind, unfair fashion showing a lack of respect and making the human being in question miserable. The description has been used to describe both treatment that is seen in the treatment of actual dogs—such as substandard living conditions, lack of autonomy, domineering oversight, feeding of food not fit for human consumption, and in this case, use of a leash in public, as well as used to describe treatment that would never be literally possible with real dogs, such as too many typing assignments, refusal to give credit or bonuses for effective research, not allowing a family member a sufficient allowance, forcing a child to dress in old, outdated or unattractive clothes, etc. In the current case, both meanings apply, and focusing on just one is intentionally misrepresenting the issue.

As to whether the use of leashes on human children is demeaning, try this thought experiment: Would any white nanny dare to walk in public with two black children on a leash? How about the mother in a mixed marriage, in which the mother is blonde and the children are black? Would not the imagery of whites leashing blacks be inherently distasteful, regardless of the age of the African-Americans involved?

I think the answer to that is “of course it would,” and for a simple reason: it IS distasteful. For in addition to representing the treatment of human beings like dogs, it is also redolent of treating humans like slaves, who were, as we know, treated like dogs, but worse—and it was because they were regarded as less than human. If there is not a visceral revulsion attached to putting humans on leashes, what does that mean?  In”The Walking Dead,” Mishone puts zombies she has captured, de-jawed and relieved of their arms on leashes, even zombies who she knew and loved before they were zombified. Why? Because they aren’t human any more.

Do a lot of women, mothers, and liberals regard children as less than human? It pains me to say so, but boy, that’s how the comments read to me. One mother writes, “My child loved it!,” which sounds like the “happy slaves singing in the fields” rationalization. If those who are treated unethically don’t mind or even like the treatment, is the treatment still unethical? I believe the answer is yes. Totalitarians believe otherwise. To them, the fact that Winston ended up loving Big Brother gave “1984” a happy ending.

The rationale of the pro-leash lobby, which is predominantly, though not entirely, female and liberal, is that safety and welfare always trumps dignity. There are many analogies here for considering more substantive issues, but I now believe this position is telling. These were the people, after all, who protested during the Cold War, while calling for unilateral disarmament, that “better red than dead.” They are largely the ones now who view no human suffering or breaches of liberty around the world as worth placing American lives at risk. They believe that taking choices and autonomy away from citizens in matters of their own health care “for their own good” is responsible governing, and that allowing, or causing, nearly 50 per cent of the population to be dependent on the government for the costs of living, thus placing them on a metaphorical financial leash, is a good thing, rather than soul-killing, initiative destroying, domination.

And, of course, many of them don’t believe unborn children are even human enough to care about killing them.

I am not certain that this is correct or even fair, but it explains a lot. Leashing one’s child can be just a lazy choice made with no ideological content at all, of course, but I am beginning to think it may be signature significance for those who defend it by saying that safety justifies treating children like dogs. Dogs, after all, still love the superior being on the other end of the leash. It may be that the child on the leash will also grow up to love not just the parent, but Big Brother as well.

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Graphic: Cafe Mom

170 thoughts on “On Liberals, Dignity, Dogs, Signature Significance and Toddlers On Leashes

  1. I am a conservative woman. The point I should have made more directly in my previous post is that we are all to often quick to judge without stopping to consider there may be other facts in play. Are all mothers who have employed the use of a leash lazy, uncaring, self absorbed people? Some may be, some may not. In your example of the white nanny with two black children, the white nanny would most likely not go back to working immediately after a surgery. Mothers don’t always have the option of taking time off. My simple out patient surgery turned into a 3 day hospital stay. After a week cooped up at home I decided my toddler son and I needed an outing. I was not allowed to run or lift anything. Two year olds are fast, slippery and have male pattern deafness…oops, I mean selective hearing. So at that particular moment I determined that the backpack leash was a good option. Would I have risked being rehospitalized to run after my toddler if he broke ways from me…absolutely. But the backpack leash allowed us to escape the confines of our home for 2 hours for a trip to the zoo. We were both happy. He will not be scarred for life.

    Most moms are trying to do the best they can for their children. Consider there may be more facts that may not be visually evident. Show a little empathy and don’t be so quick too judge.

    • Physical incapacitation is most likely a very uncommon reason for doing this. I’d wager the vast majority of cases are just laziness. Yours is probably one of the few valid justifications. As for the rest, I have very little empathy left for liberal insanity; I’m suffering from empathy fatigue.

  2. Why accepting a plea deal is risky:

    His mother told the court that Van Huizen’s previous defense attorney said the teen would be eligible for a 402 reduction, which would reduce the felonies to misdemeanors once he completed probation, if he accepted the plea deal.

    Attorney Roy Cole said he believed there would be no prison term, and he had asked the court to allow Van Huizen to serve his jail term over the summer so he could complete the school year.

    But instead, the judge imposed the maximum prison term for the charges, although the teen’s co-defendant – 17-year-old Joshua Dutson – was sentenced by the same judge to 210 days on the same plea agreement Van Huizen accepted.

    Another teen involved in the case, 19-year-old Tomek Perkins, pleaded guilty to second-degree felony counts of attempted robbery and burglary and was sentenced in April to 180 days in jail.

    “We were completely shocked,” Marc Van Huizen said. “We were amazed, (and) had I known what I know now, I would not have allowed my son to accept that plea deal. I’m the one who told him to do it. [I thought] we had the ability to put this all behind him.”

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/57972054-78/huizen-van-prison-teen.html.csp?page=1

    It’s especially risky if the Judge in Juvenile Court is married to the prosecuting attorney.

  3. “The rationale of the pro-leash lobby, which is predominantly, though not entirely, female and liberal,”

    May I ask on what basis you make that assertion? Have you done, or can you point to, a scientific study proving this statement true? Or is this just a gut feeling?

    I know many liberals, including liberal females, who are not ok with child leashes. Now, my personal experiences do not prove or disprove any scientifically done study. However, they do make me skeptical that your statement is not based in real numbers.

    Personally I view leashes like I view spankings. A last resort when all else fails.

    • “I know many liberals, including liberal females, who are not ok with child leashes.”
      “The rationale of the pro-leash lobby, which is predominantly, though not entirely, female and liberal,”

      OK,class, explain why there is no reason why these two statements are necessarily in conflict at all.

    • Oh, you know I was just trying to flush you out.

      You do realize that there should be no comparison between spankings, a private punishment, and leashing (I like the fact that we already have a euphemism, “tethering.”), which is a public humiliation for the convenience of the caretaker, and the theoretical benefit to the child. Unless you want to call one a just (presumably) punishment and the other a punishment for just existing.

  4. This is not a liberal way of thinking. Go back and read the comments from yesterday.

    Parents of a single child also have no idea of the challenges involved in having multiple toddlers. To quote Game of Thrones, “You know nothing, Jack Marshall.”

    I didn’t use a leash because I thought if I were a “better” mom, I should be able to get my second child to listen more and stay by my side. It had nothing to do with concern over her dignity. They don’t even understand that concept yet. Anyone who yells in public, “I went pee pee on the potty!” while clapping her hands isn’t terribly concerned about what her peers think of her being on a leash. Especially since most parents keep their kids strapped in strollers until they are practically ready to take their driving exams. Maybe the “good” parents are the ones that let their children get some exercise — even if they are on a 3 foot tether — which is about as far as a toddler should be from his/her parent anyway in public.

    Go downtown today and you will see hordes of day care workers walking toddlers all tethered together chain-gang style. It is the only way to take care of multiples — unless of course you want the kids to stay inside all day.

    • 1. I completely agree that it is not a liberal way of thinking, which is why I didn’t say otherwise. I said that it is the way a lot of people who call themselves liberals think. A lot of current day progressives tend to embrace unethical “the ends justify the means” measures, particularly ones that devalue autonomy and personal dignity in the interest’s of what the liberals in control believe is “their own good.” The totalitarian societies Orwell was writing about considered themselves “liberal.”

      2. You didn’t answer my white Mom, black kids scenario.

      3. “Chain gang-style.” THAT sounds dignified.

      4. So before the advent of leashed for kids, centuries of parents never took their kids outside or on outings. I did not know that!

      • 2. Why do you think this is an issue? Go downtown today — you will see female day care workers of all races walking kids of all races on leashes. No one cares.
        3. Little 3 year-old chain gangs ARE cute. Everyone (men, women, liberals, conservatives) saw “Awwwww…..” as we see them walk by on their way to a park or playground.
        4. Leashes have been around for centuries.

            • Regardless, “everybody does it” is still rationalization, even if it is correct behavior.

              If you answer the question “why do you provide food for your child?” with “everybody does it”. You’d be wrong. Reaching the right answer for the wrong reasons is just lucky. This is why “everybody does it” isn’t a logical method for determining right or wrong.

              If I were to ask 1942 Der Bethika in Germany, “why do you mistreat Jews?”… “Everybody does it”…”wait what?”…”Well sometimes everybody does it because it is tested, true and ethical…”

              • My last line I forgot was to discuss that if you can’t argue a point on it’s merits, you don’t know what it’s merits are, or it doesn’t have any.

                But right or wrong in your conclusion, reaching that conclusion via “everybody does it” is irrational.

                • No, actually, ridiculous is then leaning on “Everybody does it” after using other reasoning.

                  You’d be an idiot to further claim that I’m ridiculous demonstrating that “Everybody Does It” is still a rationalization regardless if the conclusion is right OR wrong…

                  Please. Don’t be an Idiot.

              • I think “everybody does it” is a logical response to the assertion that something is humiliating or demeaning. If it is common, equally applied, and the subjects quite unaware of the supposed humiliation, and it saves them from greater possible harm, then where is the damage?

                    • The Victim’s Distortion, #27! Ha! The one I DIDN’T see, but of course, you are correct. I have also detected 8, 10, 13, 22, 25, 31, 33, 34 and 38. Both yours truly and the leashers can be tarred with #9, depending on one’s point of view.

                  • So demeaning treatment of the mentally damaged and insane is ethically acceptable, since they don’t realize it?

                    “…and it saves them from greater possible harm.” Ahem, like straitjackets, for example, and other restraints we use for the mentally ill to prevent them from harming themselves. So…yes. How are child restraints any different?

                    • So both restraints are used to prevent a vulnerable population from harming themselves. The only difference is that one is designed to be used in public and the other is not? Ok. You feel that the humiliation factor should trump the safety factor in the use of restraints, or that such toddlers should not be seen in public?

                      I also noticed in the last thread that people were very sympathetic to the woman in the wheelchair who used the restraint for her toddler, and felt that the use was justified. But under your analysis, it shouldn’t change just because the woman needed to use it. The child would have done nothing to deserve being humiliated in that manner. Therefore the woman should have never gone anywhere alone with that child, correct?

            • Some time ago, psychologists conducted an experiment, wherein a banana, with a ladder positioned under it, was placed in a monkey cage. The experiment began with all of the monkeys in the cage being sprayed with a powerful water hose until they were conditioned to not attempt getting the banana. The next phase consisted of replacing the monkeys, one by one, without using the hose. Each time a new monkey would attempt to retrieve the banana, the rest of the monkeys would beat the shit out of it. This continued to occur even after all of the original monkeys had long since been replaced, and none present had ever experienced the original noxious stimuli (the hose). Sometimes everyone does it simply because everyone’s always done it. This phenomenon also makes a good case for doing a thorough sweep of the House and Senate.

      • Since I do not view a backpack leash/child tether as enslavement, I would not think anything about a white mom with black kids on harnesses. I would assume she loves her children. I have personally never witnessed a mother dragging her child with the tether. Usually the child is happily leading the way. If a mother is dragging her child by the leash with the child on all fours barking, now that would be demeaning.

        • What if the white mom was wearing a Victorian-era dress with an umbrella, and the kids were wearing straw hats and moccasins?

  5. Jack: On this subject of leashes for children, you really are starting to echo a kind of self-righteousness and (unethical) sense of moral superiority that you correctly call out (and denounce) among many of certain political ideologies.

    • Here’s at least part of the problem Eeyoure…many years ago, I was the Executive Director of a residential facility for Native Americans with developmental disabilities. One employee of a funding agency told me that it wouldn’t do to try to protect my clients from everything, keep them safe from all harm. They in fact, had a right to TAKE RISKS. He was, for the time a screaming liberal, and eventually became a close friend. However, he was quite right…we cannot and should not try to protect our children from all possible harm. They, as did my clients, have a right to take risks. To be blunt, the only way to learn from our mistakes is to make them and suffer the consequences of them. So I consider it grossly unethical for a parent not to allow a child to take those risks, make the mistakes and, hopefully, learn not to make the same mistakes again. Again, we are not capable of protecting everyone from everything, all the time. And I think in agreeing with Jack’s #4 above, we were a whole lot saner society when we were not trying to do that.

      • I agree that children should be allowed to take risks. But it is up to the parent to judge which risks are acceptable, and at which time, which will depend on numerous factors. If a parent judges that a 2 year old who likes dashing off into a busy street should not risk “learning” that an impact with a moving car doesn’t feel so good, and harnesses her impulsive child, who am I to say that they shouldn’t? Eventually, the age of reason will come for most children. At that point, cut ’em loose. Not every child will need such equipment, nor every parent. But many do. I don’t the use of such equipment as inherently unethical.

        • Which is why the post title starts out with the words “On Liberals”. It is and should be viewed that way.

    • How do you figure? In the midst of an “everybody does it” rationalization and an “the ends justifies the means” justification, all one can do is point out that the mindset is unethical, corrupting, and a slippery slope to much, much worse. Naturally, this is called a “sense of moral superiority,’ because ethical people hate being told that they are doing something wrong, especially acts that demean other human beings.

      • You are mis-using your empathy, or, just failing to empathize. You are projecting your concept of dignity upon others where you either lack, or dismiss your own need for, knowledge and understanding of their realities. You’re applying the Golden Rule where it does not apply. Ethical people hate being told that they are doing something wrong, when what they are doing is not wrong. In an unreasonably broad manner, you are rejecting the restraining of a child who is ignorant of his own potential for self-destructiveness as “demeaning.” Details of time, place and manner do matter, as do the capabilities (and potential) of both child and guardian. I am reminded of some abortion rights supporters and counter-demonstrators who I overheard many years ago, who made the ridiculous accusation that anti-abortion demonstrators who marched and picketed with their kids stepping along were “committing child abuse.”

        • What can I say? You don’t get it, and are dead wrong. Children still have dignity, are still human beings, and should not be demeaned. It is both lazy parenting and bad ethics. Tell me: what is the magic moment where it is NOT demeaning to have a child on the leashes? When the child realizes its demeaning? So if you don’t know you are being degraded, it doesn’t matter?

          • “4. So before the advent of leashes for kids, centuries of parents never took their kids outside or on outings. I did not know that!”

            I must lead a life that is far too sheltered. I’ve not seen children on leashes; however, I do remember hearing my mother tell the story of taking my (incorrigible) sister, an only child at the time, shopping with her circa 1946. My sis broke away and lost herself in the crowd of shoppers repeatedly, freaking my mother completely out every time. Finally, as a last resort, to protect her from herself, and to preserve her own sanity, she put my sis on a well-deserved leash. Mother told of how a very indignant woman confronted her angrily, and berated her for treating my sister “like a dog.” I personally could very well imagine my sister, (who is in fact still quite capable of being reckless at the age of 74), losing herself in the crowd, gleefully making her way through a store, out the door into the street, and getting run over by a truck. Mother took the verbal abuse from the angry stranger, and kept my sis on the leash, which was the right thing to do. Mother’s tale is the only instance of it I’d ever heard of before now. I truly had no idea that leashing kids had become a trend these days, and maybe it’s often due to laziness (I shudder to think that there are that many kids around who are as boneheaded as my sis), but I think you are very wrong to condemn all of these mothers/caretakers with such a broad brush.

            “Tell me: what is the magic moment where it is NOT demeaning to have a child on the leashes?”

            I just did.

            • So when your sister becomes senile and also wanders off, you would consider it dignified to take her on outing on a leash too, right?

              This is a “count the rationalizations” exercise.

              • There’s nothing at all dignified about being old and senile, with or without a leash. I took care of my father who had Alzeimer’s., and shed many tears over his devastating loss of dignity…something a toddler couldn’t even begin to experience or comprehend. I resisted putting him in a wheelchair for that very reason, because he’d already sacrificed SO much of his pride, until his umpteenth fall resulted in a bloody trip to the hospital for stitches in his head. Not rationalization. Pragmatism. There’s a place for pragmatism, whether having to do with leashes or wheelchairs.

                • Now you have me thinking about other ethics concerning dignity. Daddy was modest in the extreme. He retained this modesty after his disease had returned the control of his bodily functions to that of an infant. He resisted the ministrations of the caregivers in the facility where he lived, so they let him sit, diaper overflowing, in his own excrement, in the same clothes, for days. The facility manager said they couldn’t clean him up against his wishes because they were required to *respect his dignity*! . Mind you, he was still taken out in public, by me, for doctor and dentist appointments. What was the ethical solution?

              • Here’s another thought, though I don’t think as well, or express myself as well as I once did. We had an exchange years ago about abortion being an issue of competing rights: the rights of the adult woman versus the rights of the human life growing inside her. I think we agreed that, because of this, the decision, and the consequences, must belong to the adult woman and not to the state.

                Similarly, there are situations of competing ethics, and sometimes I think it comes down to choosing the least unethical course. This may be one of them, and I have no doubt that sometimes a leash is the right choice (as I believe it was in my mother’s one-time usage), and sometimes not, maybe usually not, but it isn’t up to an outside observer to judge all of the relevant considerations that went into the choice, and make a blanket determination that it’s never a good decision. Maybe it’s always unethical, but could very well be the least unethical thing to do. I can’t believe that I mostly agree with deery on this (not quite as trusting of all parents), but I do. It’s a good idea for you to have taken a stand to discourage the practice and encouraged its discussion, though.

            • My son would never just up and run off, though he did explore, it was never in any way that we had to worry about his immediate safety. We had it easy. He’s about to be 4 now, still doesn’t go off on wild jaunts. It was easy for me to decry parents who used leashes.

              Then we had our next one. Just turned two. She’s a runner and hyper-explorer. Everywhere always. I can look away for a split second and she can be 100 feet away. It caused me to pause on the topic of leashes for kids. I thought about it for awhile. Well, actually about 30 seconds. It’s still just as easy for me to decry parents who use leashes. They are still lazy and demeaning. I’m just content to accept that, as her dad, and my wife is content to accept that, as her mother, we just have to worker HARDER and be more situationally aware than usual when we are out.

              It’s the burden a parent accepts. We used to accept this as natural, now we avoid it. Why?

  6. I think your original instincts were right Jack. Your feeling of the “ick” factor has overwhelmed your sense of logic on this subject.

    …The phrase in question was “whether it was fair, kind, respectful or right to treat your child like a cocker spaniel…” To make it easier to attack, my critic has changed that to “…to treat your child in a manner associated with the treatment of dogs.” Sneaky. It is true that dogs are typically kept on a leash, but that is only half the message, as fair readers will acknowledge. The term “treated him-her-them like a dogs/dogs” means, and has meant for a very long time, treating a human being in an inhuman, demeaning, humiliating, unkind, unfair fashion showing a lack of respect and making the human being in question miserable.

    I think everyone can agree that making someone feel miserable and humiliated, or treating them unkind for no reason is unethical. So far we agree. The question becomes, in the case of a child harness, are parents making their children miserable, humiliating them, or being unkind by making children wear them for no reason? You contend that they are. Because child harnesses are humiliating, in their association with the treatment of dogs, children should not wear such things. You have indicated that it shows a lack of respect for the dignity of the child. You also believe, as a secondary consideration, that this harnessing allows the child to be overly coddled, and grow into a weak-minded adult.

    My contention is that you are having an emotional reaction to what can be a very practical solution. The major ethical consideration that you cite, that it demeans the child, is a nonfactor for several reasons. The major reason is that I don’t think it is really possible to have an affront to the dignity of a 18 month-4 year old child, the ages where the overwhelming majority of these harnesses are used. Children that age have no dignity to affront, which they will demonstrate quite happily for you by stripping down and streaking about quite happily naked if you let them. As the harnesses are quite common, the association with dogs, such as it is, is pretty nonexistent. Also just because we use the same equipment for toddlers and dogs doesn’t mean that a toddler’s “dignity is affronted merely by the association.

    Furthermore even if one were to take your assertions at face value as true, that it is indeed demeaning to toddlers to be harnessed, then all you have is balancing two separate ethical considerations. On one hand, you must try not to demean a person unnecessarily. On the other hand, you must ensure the safety of people who are unable to do so for themselves. Which is more important. I assume that parents who harness there children have accessed their child’s personality, the dangers that they might encounter, and the other responsibilities a parent might be dealing with at the same time, and decided that harness beats a child being run over by a car, snatched by a stranger, or a lost child wandering around. I trust the parent’s judgment in this situation. You wish to second-guess what a parent decides for their own child. If such trust in parental judgment makes it a liberal quality, then so be it.

      • Great comment. I wish you weren’t so intelligent and articulate; it would be easier to grind you into dust.
        ************
        That was funny.

    • First, having raised 4 children, I can attest to the fact that a sense of dignity is indeed readily apparent at ages 3 and 4. Secondly, you are presenting only two polar options; either respect the dignity of a child, or ensure their safety. This is the false dilemma fallacy; suggesting that it’s either one or another, without the possibility of other options that don’t involve putting a leash on a child. My kids know that they are to hold my hand at all times if they wish to continue accompanying me, and I’ve never had a problem there. As for child-snatching, I’ve also addressed that too, and let’s just say that things wouldn’t go well for the snatcher.

      • This is the false dilemma fallacy; suggesting that it’s either one or another, without the possibility of other options that don’t involve putting a leash on a child. My kids know that they are to hold my hand at all times if they wish to continue accompanying me, and I’ve never had a problem there.

        That’s great…for you and your kids. For other parents, with other kids, with other personalities, and other challenges, hand-holding might not be the best option. I trust that most parents want what is best for their kids, and are fully capable of making the best ethical decisions for themselves and their children given their own individual unique circumstances. You obviously do not.

        • Okay, so just to make sure, you’re saying that you’re okay with well-meaning parents using whatever means they deem appropriate to keep their kids safe?

          • Yes. While there are outliers, I believe the vast majority of parents make the right decisions regarding this. To believe otherwise is to put your trust in the nanny state…but I’m the liberal one on this? Huh.

              • And YET…the entire CNN discussion never explicitly addressed ethical considerations at all. I don’t think the issue be competently analyzed without doing that, or at least trying, which is what the thread is about. A simple practice, but ethically, not a simple one to nail down.

            • At this point, we’re talking about rendering judgment on the ethical defensibility of leashing, not making a law against it. Also, you seem to be asserting that the use of the leash is ethical because of the assumed good intentions and rationality of the parents. With this in mind, I’m going to use an extreme example; a shock collar that delivers a sub-lethal jolt if the child wanders off. When you think about it, the point of demarcation between something being abusive and not is largely determined by current cultural and societal norms. At this time, we don’t see the shock collar as being abusive to dogs, generally-speaking. Couldn’t there conceivably be a barely-perceptible ethical drift towards this being acceptable for children, and, if so, what then?

              • I think if anything, we as a society are moving against the notion of “pain training” (e.g. spanking, slapping, shock collars, etc.) as being an acceptable corrective for either pets or children. So I don’t fear that sort of ethical drift in those directions.

                • I emphasize “conceivably” and “and, if so, what then?”. This scenario speaks directly to the well-meaning parents being the final arbiters of the ethical appropriateness of leashing.

                  • Hmm, in that case you seem to be employing a slippery slope argument. If a some point in the future we decide that shock collars for children are appropriate…then they would be appropriate I would guess, going by the standards of that society.
                    I personally feel that all pain training, like spanking, should be used as a last resort, in cases of imminent bodily harm. So for me, personally, I would be just as against spanking a child for wandering off as I would a shock collar. The costs of corporal correction, the potential for things to get out of hand and end badly, make it a poor trade-off in my own analysis. But other than that, I’m not even sure what you are asking.

  7. I was against child leashes right until I had to care for a child that necessitated one. I’ll admit, my opposition to them was not based upon the dignity of the child; rather, I thought less of the parents for being unable to control their children. What I wasn’t picturing was a two year old who sometimes needed a middle ground between total restraint and the freedom of being on their feet. I’ll emphasize that the leash is used sparingly. I still feel guilty for having to use it when I do, but it’s a utilitarian trade-off. If a toddler is particularly precocious and faster than you over short distances, what are you supposed to do, not be prepared?

    I’m surprised you would bring out the white nanny with black children example. That’s not the Jack I know and love!

    Is our hypothetical nanny meant to stop and realize the racism inherent in her leashing of black children? Or is she worried about facing scorn in a racially charged society? Certainly, the threat of being photographed and having the image of her with leashed black children posted to Twitter is palpable. We’d have Obama commenting on it in no time. It would be a fantastic media circus.

    So what is the topic of race doing here other than serving as a distraction?

    Is the nanny supposed to fear looking bad in public over child safety? Strip away race, and you have a formula for the kind of narcissistic parenting that will leave children messed up whether or not they survive to adulthood. Based on my prior views about leashes, I could have made the same decision out of worry about how others would view me in public. I didn’t, because my responsibility has nothing to do with my own dignity.

    • In the sixties Doris Day movie “Don’t Eat The Daisies,” a running gag was about the family’s rambunctious toddler, who the family stored in a crib turned upside down…a cage, essentially. What a hoot! My mother found it offensive. I saw the film on TV a while back—I agree with her. Presumably, now nobody would agree—or see anything odd or funny about the solution to a child care issue. Progress?

      I think the comparison with slavery is fair and natural, as the issue is treating human beings like animals, non-humans, or in an overtly domineering way. Is the child a member of a family, or an encumbrance? A human being deserving inherent respect, or the equivalent of a difficult pet? I proposed the hypo because, ick factor aside, if something looks wrong, it usually IS wrong, and if the relationship would seem wrong with an inconvenient casting of races, maybe it IS wrong with any such casting.

      • Little more than a century or two ago, toddlers were kept in restraints not far removed from medieval stocks, often for the better part of the day. That kind of criminal-like treatment was terrible, and certainly would have had lasting consequences for personal development. Modern playpens are comparatively luxurious, but they’re just glorified cages, even when right side up. What else do we keep in pens? Dogs and pigs. It’s still progress, yes. Being a toddler is tough.

        We don’t allow toddlers to drive, vote, drink alcohol, or serve in the military just yet. I feel that’s not a problem. We also fail to respect many of the natural and Constitutional rights which should be theirs by virtue of being human. The denial of rights and disrespect faced by slightly older children is a plight I fully sympathize with, but there is a limit to how young I’m willing to extend all the societal benefits and responsibilities associated with those rights.

        Perhaps I’ve misunderstood what you mean by ick factor. “If something looks wrong, it usually is wrong,” seems like the same type of reasoning as “If something feels wrong, it usually is wrong.” It is a useful metric when you have nothing else to measure against, but it is not a conclusive argument. Am I wrong? It seems like you’re leaning much too heavily on ick factor reasoning here, and adding race to the mix doesn’t change the nature of that argument. I know you will eventually find specific cases where child leashes are definitively used to unethical ends; I expect to cheer you on and denounce the unethical behavior of those involved. However, your case against the general practice needs more substance.

      • How about principles that are either misguided or uninformed? You might be, in principle, against western medicine, but when you get strep…hello doctor!

        Principles are your rules and guides, but I think it’s fairly safe to say that exceptions are sometimes warranted. The key there is that “exceptions” are rare and because of certain facts and other restrictions necessitate a temporary change.

        • It shouldn’t take sudden personal inconvenience to make you realize your principles are flawed. Otherwise, Occam’s Razor implies your principles are more guided by personal convenience rather than an actual weighing of the values involved.

          • How about when it’s not a strong or defining principle in the first place? If I’m hypothetically changing my mind about some opinion regarding people who go to hair salons vs people who use a $10 electric clipper, just because I tried the clipper and was pleasantly surprised by their effectiveness, what does that say about my stance on abortion and Hitler? Does Occam’s Razor imply I must be an airhead? I didn’t hypothetically care that much about haircuts in the first place.

          • No, I get where he’s coming from.

            I used to be against assisted suicide, I think maybe there was an amount of ick factor involved there, but I also had scenarios in my mind where a family expecting an inheritance might pressure an elder into suicide, and others. I figured that the law has to apply to the lowest common denominator, and I don’t trust the government to make judgements on situations like this.

            Then my grandmother got cancer, and I got to see all the pain and suffering she had to go through, the gradual loss of grace and dignity. And at the end of the two year decline, my grandmother, a retired nurse, asked for morphine that she knew would cause her to go into respiratory distress and die. Which she was graciously given.

            Sometimes adversity gives perspective. Although as a father of two, I hate the idea of leashes.

        • Right. But principles that one only endorses when they are in the theoretical and abstract are the symptoms of an integrity vacuum. My favorite 3 examples are 1) adamant capital punishment opponents who tell pollsters that in the case of Osama bin Laden, the DC snipers or Hitler, they’d make an exception, 2) the anti-abortion zealots who support their daughters’ abortion when she gets pregnant without a partner, and 3) The virulent anti-gay rights politician who changes his mind as soon as he finds out his son is gay.

          • So, on the issue of child-leashes, I’ve got some real-world experience and it sounds like a lot of the people who are vehemently opposed are talking in the theoretical and abstract. Is that the correlation you were trying to imply?

          • Lets not forget the anti-war zealot who is only zealous when it’s a Republican in the White House. Principled peaceful people are few and far between.

            • Or when they are running against a Republican for the White House, like John “I was against the war before I was for it” (or was it the other way around?) Kerry. As aside: in a position where trust is everything, doesn’t a statement like that, self-identifying as a weasel, constitute a disqualification?

              • I assumed he meant something like “I voted to give the President the authority to use reasonable force, the force used was not reasonable”.

                But both the “voted for it before I voted against it” and “I have a plan” without saying what that plan was made his an failed campaign from the start.

                It was like John McCain when he kept saying he knew how to capture Bin Ladin but would never say how.

                • That election was John kerry’s to lose. He campaigned hard to do so…

                  Incidentally, did you know he served in Vietnam?

      • I was against leashes for reasons inconsistent with other principles I hold. Circumstances made me realize this inconsistency. I was being prematurely judgmental, and I was wrong. It is not as if I’ve made a complete 180. Some parents are still crappy parents, putting leashes to ill use, but it’s always been the parent I had a problem with, not the leash itself.

  8. My son learned to walk at 18 months, running not long after. Early on in this period, I delighted in holding his hand as we walked along. However, as he became more proficient, I chose to graduate him to a leash occasionally. When we went to Disneyworld was an excellent time for it, for example. I had the control over him I needed to maintain in a crowded setting, he had the comfort of knowing where he and I was at all times. He also, however had a 5 foot radius to explore on his own, rather than being limited to the end of my arm. As he grew (he’s 3 now) he had demonstrated that there was no need for it anymore, and I could trust him to control himself for the most part, and listen to me when he didn’t. In my experience, they can be a useful tool, although, like any other tool, can be used as a crutch.

    • Well, it seems that fully distilled, the arguments for it are:

      1) It’s way easier being a parent when you tie your kid up with a leash. The Convenience over Values argument. Which overtly is disparaged by the pro-group, but subtly seems to still be accepted.

      2) Safety trumps all other considerations always.

      3) The child doesn’t know what’s happening to them. Which on it’s face seems valid, that the child doesn’t know… although I disagree. By age 5, Personalities are almost concrete… so something must happen to them that settles that, regardless if the child remembers or not. However, upon review it is just the Victim’s rationalization.

      • I think you are not even trying to give fair justice to the other side’s arguments. But here is my response.

        1) It’s way easier being a parent when you tie your kid up with a leash.
        There is definitely a convenience factor to a child harness. It allows the child some freedom, more freedom than handholding, but with some added safety than allowing them just to roam free. But convenience, in and out itself, is ethically neutral, so it isn’t a factor by itself.

        2) Safety trumps all other considerations always.

        No, obviously not. But safety is an ethical consideration, and it has to be taken into account and balanced against other factors. An ethical parent will balance out the safety, supposed humiliation, the ability to explore and get exercise, personality of the child, and the likelihood of something occurring and decide whether or not to employ a harness. I trust the judgment of most parents when it comes to making that decision for their child. You, it seems, do not.

        The child doesn’t know what’s happening to them. Which on it’s face seems valid, that the child doesn’t know… although I disagree. By age 5, Personalities are almost concrete… so something must happen to them that settles that, regardless if the child remembers or not. However, upon review it is just the Victim’s rationalization.

        Personalities, as anyone with experience with babies, are pretty obvious even from birth. You can’t really affect it, except perhaps on the margins or through head trauma. But if the ethical consideration is humiliation, which you think should trump safety, then I think we should naturally examine exactly how humiliated the supposed victims feel. They feel fine.

        • Also — memories of any events before age 4 are few and far between. Unless the argument is that leashes are SO demoralizing that it somehow imprints on a kid’s psyche.

          • The lack of episodic memories from before the age of four is a dangerous place for rationalizing. The experiences are still formative, and they still matter. There are different types of memory. What we know is that a certain type of memory, recollection of specific events, is disrupted by a specific stage of brain development. Toddlers still have episodic memory: most of it just gets drowned out by a surge of new neurons. Other types of memory certain remain intact: motor skills, cognitive skills, language, literacy, social skills, proper nouns, emotional skills, behaviors, fears, etc. Kids learn and remember shame and humiliation before age four, though perhaps not with the nuance and baggage of adulthood. If your child is constantly leashed, that may very well have consequences; I want to acknowledge that much.

            • I’m not rationalizing. It is about how the toddler “feels.” That is why certain orphanages or other places of neglect can be so damaging long term to children — even if they eventually wind up in loving, caring homes,

              So here, the question is how does the child feel. If the child feels happy and safe on a leash — and is given ample room to explore new environments, shouldn’t that be the end of the story? They will carry those positive feelings with them into childhood without specific memories of being on the leash.

              Much of Jack’s reasoning seems to center around how “he” feels about seeing children on leashes.

              • I was concerned with that particular argument regarding one particular fact, that’s all. The way you had framed it was reminiscent of other arguments I’ve seen used to excuse things just like child neglect in orphanages, which obviously isn’t what you meant.

              • Not really:

                1. The Golden Rule. I would never leash a child, because I would never want to be leashed.
                2. Kant. The child’s dignity is being sacrificed because the parent doesn’t want to go to the trouble of keeping him or her in line by more dignified (and effective!) means.
                3. Utilitarianism. The ends in this case, absolute safety, do not justify the means, in my view.

                • 1. The Golden Rule. I would never leash a child, because I would never want to be leashed.

                  The Golden Rule is inapplicable to most things we do to children. As an adult, I would not want to be sent to time-out, told what to eat, spanked, given a curfew, told where to go, etc. We do these things because children lack judgment and knowledge of what is dangerous, and so they are of a necessity more restricted than adults.

                  2. Kant. The child’s dignity is being sacrificed because the parent doesn’t want to go to the trouble of keeping him or her in line by more dignified (and effective!) means.

                  Which means would that be? And do those means magically work for every child in every circumstance?

                  3. Utilitarianism. The ends in this case, absolute safety, do not justify the means, in my view.

                  Shouldn’t the parent of the child be the one to evaluate whether safety comes first for their own child?

                • 1) I would never put a child in diapers, because I would never want to be put in diapers. I would never spank a child, because I would never want to be spanked (mixed feelings there). I would never put a child in a crib, because I would never want to be kept in a crib. I would never lead a child around by the hand, because I would never want to be lead around by the hand. I would never pick up a child against their will and cart them around, because I would never want to be picked up against my will and carted around.
                  2) I’ve run out of more effective and dignified means, based on the Golden Rule!
                  3) I’m not looking for the impossible guarantee of absolute safety!

                  • I would never want someone to lay me down on a table 4 feet off the ground, wipe my butt, and apply diaper cream.

                  • I think the Golden Rule application here is: I wouldn’t want to be put on a leash as a child, so I don’t put children on leashes. I don’t mind the fact that my parents wiped my butt, spanked me, put me in diapers and in a crib. I am, however, quite disappointed and embarrassed that they put me on a leash now and then.

                • And here Jack is where I think you’re viewing this from a very rigid perspective. To counter your arguments:

                  1. If you go climb a mountain you will *want* to be tethered (I know I’m simplifying, but you know what I’m getting at). You are putting yourself in a dangerous situation and that rope between you and your fellow climbers could save your life. Can you honestly say you don’t see a parallel between this and the crowded airport scenario? Yes, the child is not deciding to be tethered, but the child is not deciding to go to school, to use a car seat, or to learn to talk… and yet we “force” them to do that anyway.

                  2. You keep insisting that the only motivation for the parents is convenience… and yet most defenders of the position of using leashes (in limited situations) do not cite convenience as an argument. Do you not believe them? You know gun control freaks don’t believe responsible gun owners don’t you when you say gun ownership is not about killing other people. Don’t be a gun control freak.

                  3. Utilitarianism can be valid, but again you are choosing a very specific set of values to put on the balance in order to make it look like a bad tradeoff. “Absolute safety” comes very close to being a strawman here. Let’s pick the Disneyland example for this one. I can take the kid with a leash/harness to the park, give him an exciting time and let him explore within a limited radius of freedom, or I can hold his hand all the time and not let him get away from me, or because I know the handholding part won’t work I will skip the part entirely for a couple of years. Man, this is now looking more nuanced.

                  I know you’re a smart man, so I suspect you’re being inflexible just to catalyze a good debate around here. You know you could just ding Catholics or propose deporting immigrants if that’s what you want to do. 🙂

                  • 1. I can honestly say that, because of the missing element of necessity. Tethering is a necessary aspect of responsible mountain climbing. You can’t seriously argue that leashing is a necessary tool in parenting children through crowded airports, because millions upon millions or children have successfully negotiated airports without being leashed. I travel a lot, and I have never, not once, seen a parent have a kid on a leash in an airport. If one chooses a humiliating, human status-devaluing, restricting and demeaning course because the only alternative is injury or death, that’s ethical. If one has other effective measures available but chooses not to use them because one doesn’t care about causing the child discomfort, restriction of freedom and pain, what would you call that? And there are obviously other measures, because most parents don’t use leashes, and never have.

                    2. I haven’t said that convenience is the only factor. I’ve pointed to “safety over all” as another factor. The main argument is that it “works.” That’s not an ethical argument.

                    3. deery suggested that safety was very close to an absolute priority over dignity. I’ll agree that “safety is an absolute priority” isn’t quite the same as “absolute safety is a piority,” but I guess I don’t think that distinction advances the argument much. In Disneyland, you can also let the kid roam within eyesight, and admonish him if he strays, knowing that kidnapped, lost or dead kids in the Magic Kingdom are about as frequent as fatal dinosaur attacks. Kids get lost and they are found. THAT happens a lot. Mom goes nuts, kid has an adventure and learns something.

                    Remember, the #1 objective of the post was to point out that CNN’s topic had substantial ethical component that the dimwits talking and watching didn’t even touch on. #2 was to condemn leashes generally as demeaning to the kids, parents, and the society. Since nobody yet has plausibly argued that they are necessary, I’ll stay rigid on that verdict until I am convinced that less restrictive and de-humanizing methods can’t work equally well.

                    • Why is “necessary” your threshold here? We all agree seatbelts are not necessary, but they do provide benefits. Pregnant women abstain from alcohol, although it’s been proven the occasional drink does not affect the baby. Yet we consider it unethical to drive without a seatbelt (if only because we end up paying for the E.R.) or to sip wine while pregnant (although that is a violation of the woman’s autonomy). I believe your “de-humanizing behavior” sensor is a bit too sensitive – what you call the ick-factor.

                      As for other methods, how about baby carriers? A two or three year old can fit on these and it would do all a leash does. It is even more restrictive, as the kid is now unable to go anywhere. Is that better? Is it less dehumanizing, or is it only perceived as less dehumanizing?

                    • Why? Because without tethers in mountain climbing one’s life is at risk. WITH leashes your dignity is at risk, but your safety is marginally improved, if at all, and there are other, less burdensome (on the child) ways to achieve the same result.

                    • Just an FYI, there is a thing called “free-climbing”, in which suicidal climbers use no form of restraint. In many cases, they climb without even a buddy. Needless to say, a few go missing every year, but you know what? It’s their choice.

      • 4) Once a month or so, you find yourself in a situation where you need your hands free, have to bring a toddler along, and don’t have a carriage. Maybe you didn’t even know this situation would occur, but you were a responsible guardian, so you had a backup plan. You use the leash for an hour, you can move out of a bad situation faster than you may have otherwise, no psyches were harmed, no children died, and the only cost was your own dignity when everyone stared at you for being such a horrible person. 😉

    • From our basic understanding of ethics, we know that objects do not have ethics…so we are not discussing whether a child-leash is ethical or unethical. We are talking about whether the use of a child-leash is ethical or unethical.

      If you can do a quick mental exercise where you can conceive of just 1 ethical use of a child-leash, then you know you can not deal in absolutes. I will advance my thoughts here on the premise that at least one ethical use is conceived.

      With the use of the object safely in the realm of “maybe”, it comes down to the specific circumstances of the “use”. What is the specific situation?

      As with any tool, a child-leash can be misused. I can use a hammer to drive a nail into a board or smash a skull. I can use a TV to inform knowledge, entertain, create emotions, distract kids, fill boredom, inspire creativity, etc, etc, etc. Usually, when it comes to the use of a tool, you have to look for signs that the tool is being misused, and in this case, has become a crutch to support poor parenting.

      • As we know, there are absolutely no absolutes, even the rule that there are no absolutes has exceptions. We can stipulate that there is at least some set of circumstances where the use of a child leash passes ethical tests.

  9. I think ‘liberal progressives’ should be lad around with leashes. Of course they are already at least by the media (excluding FOX) and lefto politicians.

  10. It’s really simple, I think. The disagreement comes down to one very similar to what you pointed out in the post, abortion. Do children have a right to personal dignity and autonomy (or in the case of the unborn, life), and if so, how far does it extend? Parents always infringe on a large degree of a child’s dignity and autonomy, and in theory it is always justified, to a certain extent, by the welfare of the child. We do have to draw a line somewhere, though. We don’t cage kids, even if they are complete gremlins. However, we are willing to put kids on time-out in a corner or in their room, which can certainly feel like a cage.
    So how far do we want to infringe on our little devils’ rights? How willing are we to walk them around a crowded space in a way that essentially shouts “I can’t control this damn kid without a lasso” or “I’m too caught up in my own stuff to keep an eye on this thing” to every person who looks at the kid? Sometimes, this may be a reasonable approach because the parent is disabled in some way. I also think it *may* (emphasis in stars because I don’t know how to italicize) be reasonable to be used as a punishment (“you stay close or you’ll be on your harness faster than Balto before the first Iditarod.”) However, when used as a preemptive and regular measure so that the parent is simply relieved of some of the burdens inherent with parenting seems to tip the balance into unethical treatment of the child.
    On a side note, I recently found out (I’m 27) that I was sometimes subjected to this treatment. I was repulsed by hearing this, and indeed lost a little bit of respect for my mom because of it (although I still adore her.) However, I blame my tethering for my inability to get a job out of college in my field of study. Time for Occupy PetCO! (this is where you by “child restraints” right?)

      • So how far do we want to infringe on our little devils’ rights? How willing are we to walk them around a crowded space in a way that essentially shouts “I can’t control this damn kid without a lasso” or “I’m too caught up in my own stuff to keep an eye on this thing” to every person who looks at the kid?

        Yes, this thread seems mostly a judgment on a parent’s ability or inability to control their child rather than any inherent ethics on the “dignity” of children. Otherwise it would just as humiliating being lead around on a leash by a mom in a wheelchair/on crutches as it would be a mom who can walk on her own.

        • I am always clear to say that there are exceptions on this matter. We can think of many and those exceptions wont change my general outlook.

          The leash issue, in general, is viewed as being one example of lazy parentage. If one is unwilling to teach your child how to behave when you are around, imagine how they will behave when the parent is not around.

          Being unwilling to teach your child how to behave properly and instead doing the absolute minimum to make sure that child does not run into traffic is unethical at its very core. Everything else should take a back seat to you teaching your child how to behave properly (including not running off from whomever is in charge).

          I can let my 5 year old wander longer away from me because I know he will stop when I say so. My taking my time with him to do this earlier has allowed him to go explore his world with more freedom. If I raised him how to behave on a leash, he won’t know how to behave off the leash.

          • The leash issue, in general, is viewed as being one example of lazy parentage. If one is unwilling to teach your child how to behave when you are around, imagine how they will behave when the parent is not around.

            Well that seems to be the subtext, yes. But the text says that is “affront to the dignity of the child.” Which is a different subject altogether.

            A leash is a tool. It can be used to support lazy parenting, much like diapers, or bottles. Ok when a child is young, developmentally inappropriate as they get older. Depending on individual circumstances, one can make a determination of “lazy parenting”, though I personally couldn’t care less about sifting through someone’s parenting style so I can pronounce from judgment on high whether or not they are a “lazy” or “bad” parent under one set of circumstances or the other. Obviously, given the amount of vitriol that happens on this, breastfeeding, and baby naming threads on the internet, other people feel a lot differently about the matter.

            • Obviously, if your kid is not assigned one of the five socially pre-approved names for each gender, it is child abuse. Sure, they sometimes have trouble figuring out if they’re the one John out of a dozen who’s being screamed at, but it’s better than growing up with a wimpy name like Marion.

              • I would point out that John Wayne’s birth name was Marion Robert Morrison. He later changed “Robert” to “Mitchell”. I doubt that anybody would refer to him in his hearing as “wimpy”.

                • Moreover, Wayne confided late in life that “Marion” remained the first name he identified with personally, and that “John” always seemed alien. Thus he was called “Duke” by his friends and associates, because that was his nickname before he became “John Wayne.”

                  • Sure do miss him. He was one of a kind. Sorry. WAY off topic. But I would bet he would pull out a pocket knife and cut a leash if he saw one (wild effort to get back ON topic).

          • We practice stop, go, hold my hand, and stay close to me with our almost two year old every chance we get. If the occasional leashing is still necessary by age five, then fine, we’ve failed at child rearing by that point.

    • This marks the third mention of abortion in a discussion about child leashes. I feel ashamed for being the second to do so.

      It’s a balancing act. Why isn’t that clear? Toddlers are not responsible for themselves, so they must endure many things which would be degrading for an adult or even for a child just a few years older. They must begin learning responsibility with potty training, table manners, and basic obedience, but that doesn’t happen all at once.

      Preemptive and regular leashing may be unethical, irresponsible, and ultimately damaging. Personally, I think using the leash as punishment is horrific and even worse.

  11. “Personally, I think using the leash as punishment is horrific and even worse.”

    Why do you think this? Even with adults, punishments generally take away certain rights that would generally be deemed offensive to infringe upon, liberty being one of them. Is it because it would be a public punishment? Is it somehow out of proportion to the wrong (running away, being a nuisance, etc.) I completely see how it could be an unethical punishment, which is why I said it may be reasonable, because I wasn’t really sure. But I am curious as to how it could be worse than the use of it for the convenience of the parent.

    • IF the leash is supposed to teach proper behavior and then the leash is used to punish then the child may learn that proper behavior is punishment and may be less likely to practice it.

    • You’d be making the metaphorical prisoner aware of their prison. Kids don’t deserve the premature weight of that knowledge. You would create an association between the leash and punishment; further leashing, when not used as punishment, is then automatically degrading as it becomes a sign of mistrust. Even a dog is more than capable of understanding that punishment without reason is unfair.

      • I agree that it would have to be used exclusively as punishment in order for it to be ethical, and that using it as both a punishment and as regular practice would send mixed messages. That is what I intended in my original post, but thank you.

        And to Dan, doesn’t it teach proper behavior by making it unpleasant for the child to misbehave? You don’t leash the kid if it’s staying by you, but only if it misbehaves. It seems like classic punishment, just like saying “if you don’t stay by me we are leaving.” Then it just needs to be evaluated for whether it’s proportionate to the offense (which I have questions about, because I think it is very humiliating.)

  12. Also examples of unethical humiliation and/or exploitation of children (abuse of power): placing embarrassing and/or naked photos and videos of them on the web; playing video pranks on them for Jimmy Kimmel’s amusement; dressing them up as bunnies, acorns or other things, aka “using kids as props”, and other dehumanizing behavior that I have written about on AE. It’s a bad habit to get into.

  13. I’ve seen more dogs being pushed around in strollers than I’ve seen kids on leashes.
    I’ve also witnessed the dog being pushed around the grocery store in a cart (in the bottom food area).
    Now, one was a local homeless guy who is a bit off so it was probably best just to let him get his stuff and leave.
    But the other time I saw the dog in the cart it was a nice-looking elderly couple.
    Funny no one said anything.

  14. I’ve got an idea! Jack should take my 4 year-old to the zoo this weekend along with a couple of her more rambunctious friends. He can then report back to the group if his feelings have changed.

      • Who said” all”? But as a parent, if you know your child is prone to doing something like that, then yes, a leash can save their lives. Not very difficult of a concept.

          • [snort]

            …even though he will never remember it and will only be pissed off if later in life his mother tells him that he wore a leash a handful of times….

            • It doesn’t really work both ways. I’m not saying that only one child should not be leashed, I’m saying all children should not be leashed because the rare tragedy is not worth the dignity of all the individual would-be leash-ees. Citing the unusual case where a leash was the difference between life and death suggests that you think it is okay to leash children because of that rarity. Just like when one lunatic shoots up a school we shouldn’t talk about jeopardizing everyone’s right to bear arms, even though it is possible that taking that right away would have prevented that shooting.

              And yes, I doubt it has long-term effects on the children, including myself (although sometimes I apparently annoy people on blog threads.) However there are many things that I doubt have negative long-term effects on children which I wouldn’t necessarily promote as “ethical,” such as taking the kids gift away on Christmas and sending the video tape of it to Jimmy Kimmel.

              • The Kimmel example is worse because the parent IS causing stress to the child in the moment for no benefit whatsoever. Even if the child doesn’t remember the incident itself, the stress may have impacted him long term (especially if it is indicative of how he was raised generally.)

  15. We are talking about TODDLERS here. How much dignity, really, does a 2-year-old have? I think at age 3 and 4 we’re dealing with a very different level of cognitive understanding, pride, and self-discipline. But from 18 months to 2 1/2, when they’re walking, curious, energetic, quick, and too heavy to carry, combined with their deep desire to say and act out “NO!”, eh, I don’t have a huge problem with leashes.

    I admit, in my pre-parenting days, I also saw kids on leashes and experienced a huge “ick” factor. PRE-parenting. I do lots and lots of things now that I said I would “never” do, and that comes from experience and understanding of why those previously never things suddenly became reasonable. I eat eggs. I wear control-top pantyhose. I go to the chiropractor regularly. I drove a minivan for 15 years!! I anticipate one day appreciating the subtleties of a good fiber beverage, of extolling the virtues of “early bird”dining specials, and of wearing elastic-waist polyester pants. One of the hallmarks and glories of maturity is the ability to learn and grow over time.

    So. Leashes on toddlers. Dragging your prone child through a store via one is inappropriate. Keeping safe, gentle control over your hellion in a busy grocery store or theme park is fair.

    • Yes: Reasonable force, and reasonable uses of force. I keep waiting for a parent to chime in here with a story about her precocious 3-year-old who reacted to being leashed with, “Let me go, or I’ll SUE!” (I have a son who was like that – lucky guy, never used a leash on him.)

      • When my youngest was 3 she told me that she didn’t want to live with me anymore when I asked her to brush her teeth. I responded that she wasn’t allowed to tell me that only she was 13.

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