Overfeeding a Child as Abuse
Webcast Q&A: 19 February 2012, Question 3
I answered a question on overfeeding a child as abuse on 19 February 2012. You can listen to or download the podcast of just this question below – or check out the whole episode of Philosophy in Action Radio.
Is overfeeding a child a form of abuse? In November, county officials in Ohio placed a third-grade child into foster care on the grounds that he's over 200 pounds and his mother isn't doing enough to control his weight. (See the news story.) The boy does not currently have any serious medical problems: he's merely at risk for developing diabetes, hypertension, etc. The county worked with the mother for a year before removing the child, and it claims that her actions constitute medical neglect. Now his mother is only permitted to see him once per week for two hours. Did the state overreach its proper authority in removing the child from his home?
My Answer, In Brief: The state should only remove children from their parents when the parents are violating the rights of the child by inflicting permanent physical or psychological harm. This case of supposed overfeeding does not qualify, not by a long shot.
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I'm Dr. Diana Brickell. I'm a philosopher specializing in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I received my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. My book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, is available for purchase in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck."
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