There are times when it is quite possible that a noble idea has no actual logic to it whatsoever. So, as a theory, such an idea may look attractive. However, when a thoughtful individual mulls over the proposition, they may end up finding it harder and harder to implement realistically. The proposed solution to whatever problem ends up having no real pragmatism to its premises.
Deanne Carson, allegedly an Australian sexuality expert, recently asserted that parents should ask their babies for their consent in changing their diapers (called “nappies” in Australia). This assertion is void of practicality.
Ms. Carson is the founder of Body Safety Australia, an organization that endeavors to educate children, families, and professionals with the goal of “protecting children from sexual abuse with whole community solutions.” She wants to advocate for the bodily autonomy of very young children, even newborns, but it appears that she ultimately hopes to create solutions that will eradicate cases of sexual abuses happening to children. Fighting to keep children free from abuse is quite virtuous. Nevertheless, if it is done by defective means, then it will be of no real profit to them in the long run.
During her recent interview, Carson gave an example of her ideas of asking for a baby’s consent by saying:
“I’m going to change your nappy now, is that okay? Of course, a baby isn’t going to respond, ‘Yes, mom, that’s awesome, I’d love to have my nappy changed!’ But if you leave a space, and wait for body language, and wait to make eye-contact, then you’re letting that child know that their response matters.”
Hearing her statements should cause anyone to ask critical questions, such as:
Has she actually interacted with a newborn and/or a toddler on a daily and consistent basis?
How long of a space is to be allowed until receiving ‘consent’ from the child?
Also, let us just say that the child is at an age where they can say the words “yes” or “no.” If the child does not give consent to receive a new diaper, how much time does a parent give before changing the diaper? Has Ms. Carson ever heard of a diaper rash or eczema?
There are some places and law enforcers that would consider it neglect to allow a child to continuously where unclean clothes and/or diapers, especially if their skin is showing clear signs of infection.
Honestly, when children are at a very young age, the key word is “trust.” They trust you to do the right thing by them as they will need time and maturity before they ever gain the slightest understanding of what it means to give consent over their body. Actually, this should easily prompt another inquiry, especially from those parents with a child with a certain intellectual impairment and physical abnormalities (such that comes with having Down syndrome). If a child has a disorder that causes a substantial impact on their speech (or lack thereof) and/or their physical movement (or lack thereof), then what does consent look like in such a child’s case? In occurrences such as these, waiting for consent may be tantamount to neglecting your child until you are completely sure that they are affirming that it is okay for them to be touched and changed.
It seems that there are too many essential questions to consider for Carson’s propositions that would be quite difficult for her to answer. Therefore, without those answers, her argument on consent must be dismissed unless there is evidence that suggests parents should do otherwise.
Since her interview, she has said that she has received ridicule about the way she looks, which is ignorant and pathetic. Any attack of an ideological opponent’s physical attributes is a downward spiral into ineffectual argumentation, which may cause a dismissal of a rational counterpoint or an outright truth (if the truth is on one’s side). Deriding Carson’s looks is unnecessary and unhealthy. Critiquing her views, however, is imperative and beneficial to a civil discourse in the marketplace of ideas.
Jerome Danner is a member of Project 21, an initiative of The National Center for Public Policy Research. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook for more of his thoughts and commentary. For more of Jerome’s writing, please check out his website. Jerome accepts email at [email protected].
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.