Re: SOC: Children's Rights (was: Tough Questions)

Peter C. McCluskey (
Mon, 27 Sep 1999 09:34:12 -0700 ( writes:
>In a message dated 99-09-13 10:47:05 EDT, (Edgar W Swank)
>> Not obvious to me! I'm not talking about voluntarily assumed
>> responsibility, which most parents undertake willingly. I'm
>> talking about responsibility imposed by 3rd parties (i.e. the
>> state) on parents who for whatever reason are unwilling to assume
>> it.
>Here's the problem: On average, children who have loving, caring parents grow
>up to be better people than children who don't. (I know there are many
>exceptions: Good people have bad kids and visa versa.) Children - especially
>very young children - can suffer quite a bit if they aren't cared for

Correlation is not sufficient to establish causation. Judith Harris's book The Nurture Assumption provides a fairly compelling argument that the correlation you observe is primarily the result of the genetic similarity between parent and child, and that very little of that correlation is due to the effects of parental behavior on the children's psychological development.

>> The societies of most 3rd world countries look pretty functional
>> to me, hardly "collapsed." Street children that manage to
>> survive are mostly pretty well integrated.
>Well, we have a fundamental disagreement about a lot of this. I won't do the
>common thing of challenging your personal knowledge of the circumstances of
>life in the Third World. Instead, I will simply say that it seems obvious to
>me that the circumstances of life in most of the Third World appear to be
>miserably inadequate: Despite the fact that there is plenty of food in the
>world, there are hundreds of millions of underfed people; despite the fact
>that there is no shortage of information in the world, there are hundreds of
>millions of people who are illiterate and ignorant; despite the fact that
>there exist tools for creating peaceful societies, there are hundreds of
>millions of people in the world who have no security in their lives or
>property. These are facts not subject to doubt by well-informed and rational
>people and the contrast between the societies in which such conditions exist
>and those in the First World is no accident.

To the extent that you are claiming that these problems could be reduced by better parenting, I think The Nurture Assumption disproves your position.

Peter McCluskey          | Critmail ( | Accept nothing less to archive your mailing list