For many of us growing up it was common to see parents smacking their children. But as the science of better child development has gone mainstream, violence towards children is increasingly unacceptable, and illegal. What changed?
In addition to knowing more about the impacts of violence on kids, and hence on the rest of us with whom those children will interact, there has been a longer-term erosion of the view – in morals and law – that parents own their children and can treat them in any way they wish. Of course there are those that push back, much the way some pushed back against the liberation of women from violent husbands, or the liberation of animals from “owners” today, but those people are losing.
What if we extended the logic of bans on violence towards children to include future children, and rather than violence, we used extreme child inequity and the long-term impact it has on children as the problem we wished to target? There are stark examples of inequity among children, like Robert Mugabe’s kids flaunting their obscene wealth as many children around them starved, but even milder disparities closer to home have lasting impacts on children’s chances of escaping poverty in their lives. What if, rather than treating parents as if they owned their future children and could pluck them out of preexistence whenever and wherever they wished, parents has to cooperate and share resources to constantly improve the conditions into which all children were born?
That is what the Fair Start model seeks to accomplish. Let’s take the logic of protecting children to where it belongs – to protecting kids before they come into this world.