Are Fat Kids' Parents Guilty of Child Abuse?
By Daria Giron on December 05, 2011
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I was a little shocked to learn that a Cleveland, Ohio 3rd grader was removed from his parents' custody because he is obese. Granted, I need to lose weight, and perhaps that influences my opinion -- but it wasn't intuitive to me that having a fat kid is child abuse. By the way, I am using the term fat intentionally. It is all well and good to soften a message with politically correct terms -- but there are some topics that I think deserve the impact that the harsher words bring to the table.
Maybe you've heard that your child is chunky. Or maybe your child is solid. Or robust. Or perhaps someone says "He should play football with his build." Regardless of how it's phrased, it all means the same thing. Your child is fat.
Granted there are varying degrees of fat. The more medical terms being overweight or obese or grossly obese, but it doesn't change the message. To meet our cultural ideas of beauty and appropriate weight, your child is too fat.
Notice I did not mention health impacts. Why not? Because negative health impacts are not guaranteed. There are plenty of heavy people that have perfectly fine blood pressure and cholesterol levels. There is no guarantee this boy will continue to be obese into adulthood, or that if he does continue to be obese that he will have associated health problems. Are his chances of health issues increased if he is obese into adulthood? Yes. But it is not guaranteed.
In this case, they say he was removed from his parents' care for "medical reasons." The medical reason being that he is a time bomb waiting to happen when he's 30.
Did CPS Cross a Line?
I have issues with this logic. Basically, the State has argued that they removed this child from the custody of his parents (where he is on the school honor roll and active in school activities) due to concerns about his health 22 years from now.
Really? Under that same logic, any parents that don't discuss sexual intercourse and condoms with their kids could be at risk of having their children placed in foster care.
Do you think it's a leap to go from obesity to condoms?
The argument I would make is the parents' refusal to discuss condoms puts their children at risk for contracting HIV, which in turn may cause them health problems when they are 30.
You don't like that one? Then here's another one for you. Under the same logic, parents that don't read to their children from birth and don't put them in extracurricular activities should have their children removed also. Why? It is statistically proven that children that are read to are more likely to succeed. That children in extracurricular activities are more socially adept and also more likely to succeed.
Therefore, if you don't do these things you are putting your child (as an adult) at risk of not having a reliable job, possibly becoming homeless due to job loss, and therefore at risk of a shortened life span. Is it guaranteed that these things will happen? Of course not. But neither is it guaranteed that this 3rd grader's current weight will cause him future health problems.
Each argument is based upon the worry about what might happen in 20+ years. I personally don't think children should be yanked from their homes, put through the emotional turmoil of being placed in foster care, and have potential emotional scarring for fear of what might happen 20 years from now.
What do you think?
Child on scale photo from Shutterstock.
by Mona Gable
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