The so-called obesity epidemic provides an excuse to rip children from their parents in Scotland. We present here commentaries from two of our contributors referencing an article from the Scotsman.
There is no doubt that three of the six children living with their parents in Dundee are fat. The 12 year old boy weighs 224 lbs. while his two younger sisters, aged 11 and 3, weigh 168 lbs and 56 lbs. respectively. The parents claim the family eats a healthy diet, but considering that Mama is a zaftig 322 pounds, let’s say there’s a surplus of heartiness in the household. In any case local social workers have just had it with this family and are warning the parents the three children will be removed if they don’t shape up in three months. To shed the pounds the children must attend dance and football classes.
Although it is surprising that three youngsters are so big it’s more surprising that the Scots aren’t outraged over the state’s interference into matters once left to families to resolve. While the reporter daintily glosses over the important issue of what role, if any, the state should play in raising children, he is quite voluble in reciting the fat crusaders’ talking points. If the statistics thrown about are to be believed it is amazing that Scotland hasn’t sunk underneath the weight of its citizens. Certainly it faces the prospect of bankruptcy treating the diseases caused by overeating. Or not.
As with "smoking-related diseases" Big Health has a well known record of manipulating, or even manufacturing, data to produce a result that requires state intervention. Maybe Scotland’s citizens are unhealthily huge and maybe they are not. With Big Health’s record of mendacity about tobacco it is prudent to take all the dire pronouncements with many grains of salt. Certainly the prospect of Big Brother breaking up families is far more worrisome to a free society than are a few fat kids.
With the threat of child removal hanging over the heads of the parents, Scottish social workers have ordered football and dance lessons for two obese children, and set a three-month deadline for them to lose weight.
A couple of politicians and anti-obesity activists have spoken out against the tactic. One has to wonder what planet they have been living on. After all, "interventions" like these are exactly what health activists, politicians, and bureaucrats in the UK are always crying out for. For years, the UK’s New Labour government has been working to break down traditional barriers (decency among them) that stood in the way of heavy-handed state control over the lives of individuals. Choose to be healthy, or we’ll use strong-arm tactics to "help" you choose — that is essentially the message.
There are some tantalising unanswered questions here. The mother of these overweight children is reportedly big herself. How much of the problem is genetic? How will a grossly obese pre-teen react to forced football playing? Will he end up feeling that he is responsible for his family’s breakup if he fails the three-month ultimatim and ends up in foster care? There is no suggestion in the report that any factor apart from obesity in the family has led to the threatened removal of these children.
Foster care, it should be noted, is a crap-shoot for the child, who may end up in a tolerable alien environment, or in an abjectly miserable situation. The removal from one’s family will be necessarily traumatic, and although there are wonderful people — largely unsung heros — who have devoted their lives to giving neglected and undefended children a chance in the world, some foster parents prove to be in it only for money, free household labour, or worse. If a child is removed from an affectionate home simply because everyone in the family is fat — and ends up isolated, in the care of indifferent strangers, the psychological damage could be irreparable. The worse foster homes can be simply monstrous.
One cannot assume that the child welfare department has utterly failed to consider these things. Such institutions now simply consider their self-importance and their power above all other things. In the current cliimate, they may have decided that putting a few kids through well-publicized hell is a good way to terrorize other families into jumping through their hoops. Public health is not about individuals, after all. It’s about overall statistical outcomes. Creating distressed children and tearful mothers is likely considered by health commissars to be a cost-effective way of whipping those all-important population outcome numbers into the desired eugenic shape.