Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Ignorance or innocence, it's still stupid

The twin concepts of ignorance and innocence are vehicles for double standards. A child is ignorant if she doesn’t know what adults want her to know, but innocent if she doesn’t know what adults don’t want her to know.
- Jenny Kitzinger, Children, Power and the Struggle Against Sexual Abuse

I like this quotation for one reason and dislike it for two.

I like it because it points out a glaring example of the hypocrisy (double standards) of adults in western society (heck, in the whole world). Adults determine whether a child is either ignorant or innocent. Yet they are responsible for both.

I dislike the quote because it is clearly adult-centred. It looks at the reality of families from an adult point of view. It's as if what the children want or need is not of importance. What is important is only how the adults think of their children, what the adults want to do, how the adults want to do it, what the adults want of their children. Not what children want or need of their parents.

The second way I dislike (or am uncomfortable with) this quote is that in both cases (ignorance or innocence) the child doesn't know. In both cases adults are preventing children from learning about the world into which they will grow and become citizens.

No, Ms. Kitzinger, the children are kept ignorant in both cases due to the ignorance of the parents regarding their responsibilities to raise their children properly.

It is *not* the job of parents to prevent their children from learning about the world. It's the job of parents to teach their children everything they can about the world, as soon as the kids are old enough to understand the lessons.

Should children be kept "innocent" for as long as possible? No! The only reason for parents to do this is so that they can have pets with two legs instead of four. Children who are kept this way come to hate their parents for it when they become adults and learn how much their parents kept from them.

It's a violation of parental responsibility to prevent a child from learning about the world around them. Yes, some lessons may be brutal. But the lessons do not have to be presented with all of the grittiness that adults feel about a particular subject. The kids just need to know the facts. They will learn the grittiness as they become exposed to these subjects in their own lives. It's the harshness of a subject that can be kept from kids, not knowledge of the subject itself.

There is no such thing as "innocence" of children. There is only ignorance. And that ignorance is imposed by adults, be they parents or teachers. Teachers only follow what parents want of them.

The job of parents--the *only* job of parents--is to raise competent and confident children who can take their place in society as good citizens who know about their surroundings. Only when they know will they be able to develop ways of dealing with what their parents have failed to deal with, finding solutions to problems that the generation of parents have created or allowed to become worse.

"Innocent" children become stupid adults, just like their parents. This is wrong. It's wrong, no matter how many foolish excuses parents give.

Wrong is still wrong, no matter how many times or how many people say it's right.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to prevent stupid parenting from becoming genetic code.
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