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Sunday, 24 January 2010

Evil children

Like many people I have been shocked by the court case involving the two brothers who tortured two boys because they 'were bored' and had nothing else to do. Why could they do it? It appears they had been expelled from school and allowed to run free and do what they want. They had actually been taken away from their parents and were living with foster parents at the time so someone was taking an interest in them and their behaviour. However I can't see anyone could blame the foster parents as the damage had already been done before then. Their parents didn't care about them and they could watch violent DVDs and smoke cannabis and drink alcohol.

If you contrast this case with the one of the mother who fled to Ireland when she was pregnant because she had been told she was not intelligent enough to bring up a child. Even going to Ireland didn't help because the child was taken away from her at birth by Irish social services acting on behalf of the UK authorities.

Why the difference in the two cases? Both stories raise worrying issues such as - should there be a test parents have to sit before being allowed to have children; all children of parents whose IQ is below a certain level should be take a way at birth; forcible sterilisation of the unfit - horrible shades of 1930s Eugenics. There are so many ethical dilemmas here and even though the two brothers are clearly seriously disturbed they are still human beings and even in the days of the death penalty we did not hang children. What can we do - or should we do - to ensure all children have the best possible upbringing and the chance to make the best of whatever abilities they have?

You can't even say that the well off and more intelligent make better parents because child abuse is no respecter of class or wealth and as far as I can see has always happened. Parents from every section of society can be neglectful and ignore their children. Is there an answer? Or is it, as ever, a situation of looking at each case on its merits and hoping to God someone gets it right at least some of the time?


kcm said...

As you say Jilly, this raises a whole host of ethical dilemmas, many of which are too boring to go into. Suffice it to say that ultimately there is little I think one can do without resorting to Nazi-style eugenics.

It actually isn't the kids I blame, but their parents. In this case the parents were clearly out of control - on drugs, at least - otherwise the two boys wouldn't have been put into care. And yet what is being done to the parents? Nothing! From what I've seen/heard they're not even on drugs charges (but I may have missed something). They're free to spawn some more little monsters.

One is very tempted, as I suggested light-heartedly the other day, to have such parents' gonads chopped off or their tubes tied (preferably at the neck). But then where to draw the line and who makes the judgement? No, that's the path to eugenics.

Basically kids are little monsters; they're designed to be as they have to learn and to do that they have to push on the boundaries. All parents can do is to try to rein them in a bit. Inevitable some kids will go too far especially if bored and not learning the earlier lessons. This is pure animal behaviour - and yes let's be clear animals are bloody and violent like this at times too; it isn't just humans. When conditions get overcrowded it's rat eat rat; we shouldn't be surprised humans are the same.

These things always happened and always will; the best we can do is to have social services to intervene where possible. Which of course begs the question of how much intervention and at what cost? How much are we prepared to allow and how much will be pay for? As always there is a balance to be struck.

Beyond that the best we can do is to hope that "survival of the fittest" kicks in and the "less able" find ways of dying out. But then ultimately who is to say what "less able" actually is in evolutionary terms?

Jilly said...

I agree - it is the parents. But what help are parents given? Why do we leave an important job like parenting to any old Tom, Dick and Harriet who have no training for the job? When you lose the extended family you lose the person on the scene with the expert knowledge.

I'm not particularly in favour of Eugenics in spite of the fact that it is practiced in this country every time there is a foetus aborted becasue of diabilities. Where should be draw the line? I'm damned if I know.