Mark Antony Rossi’s Machine Therapy No. 2

Babysitter In A Bottle: The Future of Child Neglect

In this age of excessive commercial consumption, nothing, I mean, nothing is sacred--- which sadly includes children. Politically, the notion of nothing in sacred, is conventional wisdom when broaching the subject of children. Liberals use hungry children metaphors as prime movers to push massive government spending bills. While conservatives use porn and physical abuse as scare tactics to promote law and order measures increasingly violating personal privacy. Fundraisers shilling everything from humanitarian to religious agendas launch children as weapons to pierce the stony hearts of a weary public.

Children are the perfect instruments in false philosophical games waged to punish the other side whenever the aggressive initiator runs out of valid talking points. Children this. Children that. Precious little ones. Gifts from God. The only innocent members of society. Blah. Blah. One would rightly assume after this explosion of child awareness, the American kid should be the most protected and adjusted life form on the planet instead of a barely literate, foul-mouth, mirror-haters, fighting obesity and poor self-esteem.

That assumption is dead wrong because everyone is using children as excuses to get things they normally cannot have access to; i.e., power, privilege, money, advantage, etc. Parents love parading and tormenting their kids with celebrity and athletic ventures in the high hopes the kid will bring the money and exposure they couldn’t get themselves. We have seen countless examples of this tragic scenario. In America, children are big business products purchased through good health insurance and sold to corporate soul-suckers the moment they start growing a brain able to discern between attention and absence, love and love of money.

We are now at that stage in history where parents believe they can have it all and having children is no different from acquiring a new home or a new car. Just another bill. The value of sacrifice has been lost on the average parent who does not understand the birth of a child is the death of selfish pursuits. Instead we continue to witness the horror of Columbine copy-cat killings which are directly linked to affluent children left abandoned by parents too busy keeping up with the Jones’ to provide the love and support their children desperately needed. And these killings will continue as long as we build senseless memorials to tragedies instead of building bridges of honest communication to children at risk.

There are too many falsehoods, excuses and psychological niceties to out there to allow bad parents to escape the reality of their poor decisions. While I believe the phenomena of hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder and chemical imbalance are genuine examples of modern ailments, I do not subscribe to the suspicious frequency of these conditions which are often promoted by parents and reinforced by doctors as clever rationizations to mask irresponsible parenting, unstable home life, and a host of other family dysfunctions. The emergency of pharmaceuticals as babysitters in a bottle should be deemed a national outrage by parent groups, the government, the church and other institutions that have no prior problem to using children to fill the treasury. But no such luck. Parent groups are too busy hiding behind convenient medical conditions to admit their personal ambitions might be harming their marriage and children. The government is afraid of the political power of parents and will not step in unless drugs like Ritalin and Adderall are found lethal. The church is also afraid of parents but for entirely different reasons stemming from child-sex scandals.

The past history has taught us how police states in Germany and Soviet Union used drugs to control elements of its society. The Nazis gave drugs and condoms to children in the Hitler youth movement. The Soviet Union exploited child athletes and soldiers with dangerous performance enhancers. A number of African civil war factions use drugs to recruit children as young as 8 to become soldiers. In America it has become all too often to have a child, ignore him, medicate him, and then blame the school system and society when he cannot pass an academic examination. This ridiculous situation now routine and occurs more in suburbia than the inner city where expectations of affluent offspring are higher due to supposedly stable homes and better schools.

Drugs, legal or not, appear to have a serious impact on how a young person develops into an adult. But not as much as an impact as the regular presence of a responsible parent ensuring their emotional well being is secure enough to not have to rely on poisonous chemical substitutes of serenity. In the “great-yet-be-public-debate” on parenting ethics, it is plain wrong to drive your child to illegal drugs due to your inattention and plain evil to give your child legal drugs to shut him up. I prefer to not utilize nonsensical terms like generation at risk and the usual social hyperbole to describe this ongoing state of child rearing. The fact remains unless a child has been medically tested and proven to have an illness it is highly unethical and I daresay immoral to knowingly proscribe medication to fix behavioral problems caused by mothers and fathers. The negative side effects as evidenced by recent reports seem to indicate antidepressants taken by children without true medical conditions became depressed and even suicidal. The classic definition of neglect is what we withhold from someone but in this age of complicated ironies it may be what we provide someone. The bad parent will not find magic in a pill. Just as that person’s parent did not find it in a bottle. The cycle must be broken or our children are bound to be emotional clones of lost pilgrims unable to find their way home.

Mark Antony Rossi is the author of "Mother Of All Machines: A Bioethics Primer" and the recently released "The Intruder Bulletins: The Dark Side of Technology"