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Child Abuse Isn't Always Child Abuse

I have become annoyed at the increasingly sloppy use of the term “child abuse.” From the Internet, I have learned that not getting a COVID vaccine for your children is child abuse. Requiring them to wear masks is child abuse. Feeding your children fast food is child abuse.

Accidentally hitting a child when opening a door can get you prosecuted for child abuse. The term has become an all-purpose word that seems to mean nothing more than “a decision about a child that I really, really, really disagree with.”

This phenomenon is not only annoying, but counterproductive. To paraphrase Dash in The Incredibles, when everything is abuse then nothing is abuse. The term becomes simply an insult. We need to reclaim the term and keep its meaning as a serious crime. A first step would be not criminalizing accidents or parenting decisions. When children aren’t harmed, or at a reasonable risk of being harmed, we should treat our differing opinions as simply that – a disagreement, not a crime.

A jury found a former gym teacher at a Madison elementary school not guilty of reckless, felony child abuse for opening a door into a second-grader’s forehead, causing a bump and a small abrasion.

Tags

youth services law, child abuse

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