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The Forum > Article Comments > Childhood ó a time of innocence and indoctrination > Comments

Childhood ó a time of innocence and indoctrination : Comments

By Glen Coulton, published 23/4/2010

Is requiring children to adopt the religious beliefs of their parents not akin to child abuse?

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Please, give it a rest! Even if you do not 'require' children to accept the beliefs of their parents children will do so anyway. The basis of the article is saying that 'forcing' children to accept their parentís beliefs is akin to child abuse, that children are not naturally inclined to follow their parentís beliefs. Yet this very idea is disproved by the first paragraph of this ridiculous article. Children do not need to be taught to be whatever culture they are born into, why? It's not down to some form of genetic memory, nor is it down to abusive behaviour, a Vietnamese child grows up Vietnamese because children naturally wish to seek their parentís approval. This usually involves absorbing and mimicking the behaviour of their parents. The basic problem in this article has nothing to do with children and the religious beliefs of their family, it has to do with what other have done - usually outside the family. The kindergarten case has nothing to do with the mothers religious beliefs, but the antiquated and ineffectual policies of the government department responsible for the management of education in that state. The case of the father has nothing to do with religion but instead with what is seen in family law courts everyday in Australia, one parent using every underhanded trick in the book to try and hurt the other parent. It was a trick, his conversion was for the sole purpose of hurting his wife. Nothing more! And to address the second paragraph - religious beliefs develop over time. Young children are what their parents are, it is only later in life - in the teenage years - that children begin to question their beliefs. It is a sign of independence, the young ones stretching their wings, getting ready to fly on their own. However a great many come back into whatever their parentís religion was, which is the basic reason why entire families can be of one faith.
Posted by Arthur N, Friday, 23 April 2010 11:08:49 AM
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I agree with the author completely. Parents have no right to indoctrinate their children into any belief system. I'm an agnostic/atheist, but when my six kids and I talk at length around the kitchen table, on all manner of things, I am at pains to emphasise that they should accept nothing I say on faith, but think it through/look at the evidence for themselves. It is child abuse to polute a child's mind with fairy tales set up as fact. Religion certainly has no place in school, except perhaps in comparative studies or anthropology. And I think parents should be educated about not imposing their opinions or belief systems on young minds that should be free to develop uncoerced.
It's not true that children will adopt their parents' views anyway; a good many kids end up rebelling. Not enough, unfortunately, and the ones that do often pay a heavy psychological price. Belief systems, like prejudices, with no compelling evidence to back them up, or even salubrious merit, should actually be exposed to developing minds, or at the very least be left to wither and die. Propogating often iniquitous nonsense in innocent minds, viruses dressed up as gospel, is most certainly child abuse.
Posted by Mitchell, Friday, 23 April 2010 11:45:00 AM
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Glen, you encourage people to play the recorder. Full marks to you! I have spent many years doing the same. And your article has got me thinking about education and indoctrination. So help me think this through.

Some adults and children have over the years riled against my requiring all students at certain year-levels in my school to learn to play the recorder. I claim that with the recorder they can make work wonderful music and I insist that they practice what I teach them. If they dutifully do their practice at home some parents yell, ďStop making that bloody awful noise!Ē What are they to do?

The child believes my years of experience will help her to find joy and beauty in recorder music. She is starting to feel the truth of my claims as she plays in her own stumbling and imperfect way. Suppose the parent hates the very sound of the recorder in the house, associating it with his own school-experience of severe corporal punishment for any mistakes and joyless tuition by a teacher who was doing it simply because it was compulsory. The parent cannot sense the embryonic beauty in his childís playing. To him it is a symptom of child abuse. After all, it even makes the dog howl!

The same parent listens to rock music and often sings along with it with gusto when the child is with him. Feeling the deep engagement of her father with this music, she may well identify with his emotional commitment to rock and tacitly swear allegiance to him and it. She then also decides to reject my proclamation of the beauty of the recorder music and stops practising.

I donít oppose rock music. But I know that practical experience of other styles can lead to joy and understanding of a more enduring quality.

So am I indoctrinating the child? Is the father or mother indoctrinating their child? What is in the childís best interests?

Thanks for an article that is stimulating my thoughts on this subject. And donít stop your efforts on the recorder front!
Posted by crabsy, Friday, 23 April 2010 12:28:47 PM
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Just like all cults the mainstream religions prefer to get their "converts" from the ranks of the desperate, naive and hopeless. Targeting children is just an extension of this. As is their proselytizing at the impoverished peoples of Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Only children and the uneducated and desperate are susceptible to the lies and manipulations of the godbotherers. Normal intelligent people can see right through the fearmongering and mendacity of the faithful with their bigotry, intolerance and elitist arrogance. Then there are the catholics and their serving up of their kids to the pedo priests that they protect and revere so much. Sickos.
LEAVE THE CHILDREN ALONE YOU INSANE, EVIL MISCREANTS.
Posted by mikk, Friday, 23 April 2010 12:30:25 PM
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This is a scary article. Religions are not all the same. Religious parents may want their children to follow in their footsteps but why is that atheists who want to intervene in the affairs of other families and remake the world in their image the only one's who aren't indoctrinating people? Seems a little illogical, illiberal and un humanitarian to me.
Posted by Royster, Friday, 23 April 2010 12:51:57 PM
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Mr. Glen Coulton,

Yes, childhood is Ďtime of innocence and indoctrinationí.

Yet some of the children reject all indoctrinations and become anarchists or dictators.

Trouble is that the majority of them looses the innocence and keeps the indoctrination.
Posted by skeptic, Friday, 23 April 2010 12:56:18 PM
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