Corrupting, Adultifying and Exploiting a Child
Corrupting, Adultifying and Exploiting a Child

What is corrupting?

Corrupting is a form of emotional abuse in which an adult or older child encourages a younger child, who doesn’t yet fully understand the concepts of right or wrong, to engage in illegal or inappropriate, anti-social behaviour.

Likely several forms of emotional abuse will happen at once, which is what this photograph is an example of. This is also an extreme example and so likely to be rare.

Technically the meaning of ‘corrupting’ is “To encourage anti-social behavior – or to change behavior from ‘good’ to ‘bad’ – by failing to teach a child right from wrong”

Or “To surround a child with illegal or immoral behavior so that the child doesn’t fit in with their society and so the child/victim suffers”

Corrupting is: encouraging a child or youth to do things that are illegal or harmful to themselves. Examples are:

  • rewarding child for bullying and harassing behaviour
  • teaching racism and ethnic biases
  • encouraging violence in sporting activities
  • inappropriate reinforcement of sexual activity
  • rewarding child for lying and stealing
  • rewarding child for substance abuse and sexual activity
  • supplying child with drugs, alcohol and other illegal substances
  • promoting illegal activities such as selling drugs
  • teaching and promoting prostitution – or any other behaviour – by example

We adults have so much power – being a parent is a scary responsibility and one always to be taken seriously. But… The vast majority of parents love their kids and want to do a good job as a parent. Now and again they may need help either to talk about what is acceptable and what is not or support so that they are not exhausted and unable to cope. Particularly when there is divorce. And particularly if both parents have to work to make ends meet or when there are other stresses, economic or otherwise.

TV and other media encourage kids to behave badly and chastise parents for all physical punishment. There’s less time available for parenting today and it’s becoming less and less clear how to parent ‘cleanly’. There is also less support than ever from extended family. The situation for parents is getting more and more difficult.

A child or young adult is much less able to discern between what’s right and what’s wrong than an adult… Or at least an adult who has learned this morality him or her self. What society expects from them as they grow – and learning to tell right from wrong – is exactly what children are busy learning. What they learn today will be hard to change later in life. So! Err on the side of caution – with kindness, always – and “teach your children well”.

Remember too that the most influential of all teaching is teaching by example. If a child sees a certain behaviour from those he or she loves, he will almost certainly learn it and defend it as ‘right’.

1. An example of this type of behaviour might include something as seemingly innocuous as eating a candy bar in a store and leaving the wrapper, and not paying for it… Stealing it.

A child is entitled to learn right from wrong at the earliest age so that he doesn’t suffer from his illegal behaviour later.

You might argue that she knows it’s not ‘right’ and knows better than to do it.  However, if you are a loved one, a mentor or a person of trust, she will learn more from what you do than from what you say. Remember, a child’s sense of right and wrong is being formed as we speak. It’s not alreadyformed and so able to withstand a little ‘stumbling’.

How can you guard your kids and make sure they have an opportunity to grow as straight and tall as possible?

  • Censor the TV they watch – or watch it with them and suggest good alternatives to questionable morality
  • Make sure that there is always a responsible adult with your kids under 12
  • And over 12 make sure that you know
    • where they are
    • who they’re with and
    • what they’re doing
  • Show an interest in homework and see that it’s done
  • Read to your child daily when they’re little and take them to the library and insist they read with you every day when they’re older… Enjoy it with them.
  • Discuss questionable morality; give it valuable oxygen – discussion – and talk about it

Don’t think for one minute that your naturally curious child doesn’t know pretty much everything that goes on around him or her!

A child is entitled to grow up within the law/society in which she lives.  Life is difficult enough.  I expect that most of us have heard this phrase at least once: “do as I say, not as I do”?  In order to grow a strong sense of right and wrong – on which to base a lifetime of decisions – every child needs ‘moral education’.

At one time safe, moral education was all around us: in just about every TV program, in schools, at home and in church. I guess particularly in the church (and it is still there much of the time).

Now, as parents, it’s much more complicated. For the most part schools have stopped giving religious education on the grounds that religion is a personal matter and not the business of public education. Religion is traditionally where morals were taught, to children and to adults alike. We have to be super-aware of what our children are learning and offset it with ‘appropriate’ discussion. Of course this is not easy when our daily lives are getting busier and children are spending more time with the TV or with a sitter.

People – kids too – are fascinated with courts and court proceedings – there are probably more movies and TV programs about courts, police and people breaking the law than any other subject? What saddens me – more than I can say – is that so many childhoods seem to include abuse: the emotional abuse of corrupting.

On the one hand I guess that we really can’t make excuses and ‘allow’ bad behaviour. Especially when it harms other people. I’ve been called a ‘bleeding heart liberal’ . However. There seems to be a very definite and strong link between child abuse – emotional child abuse including Corrupting – and the failure to truly understand the difference between right and wrong.

The failure to internalize good morals.

Yes it’s true that these people – who were children and are now adults – have been told the difference… But this is just at a thinking level and not at a deep feeling level. They will always have to stop and think whether something is right or wrong: they won’t just know it with every fibre of their being because parents and other adults have modeled ‘decent behaviour’ strongly for them.

This – in my opinion – is one of the saddest results of this sort of child abuse: the erosion of our society. It is  something that genuinely affects not only the rest of the victim’s life but also affects everyone.

And all because as a child, this person wasn’t taught/didn’t learn – truly internalize and learn – the difference between right and wrong.