When parent’s good intentions go horribly wrong…

February 16th, 2008 by | Permalink

I suppose all parenting is based on some sort of ideology, but when does ideology interfere and cross the line of what is in a child’s best interest?

It’s too bad that far too often, a parent’s desire to influence a social movement leaves them vulnerable in order to make a point or act in protest.

For example, and I know this is a touchy subject with some, but parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, claiming that it’s all part of some conspiracy theory to line the pockets of pharmaceutical companies. Many parents are so busy trying to find ways that vaccinations cause more harm than good, I think they forgot why vaccines were introduced to begin with. How much evidence does one need to make the logical conclusion that your political gain may compromise the health of your child?

For example, a recent Measles outbreak in San Diego:

On Jan. 25, the 7-year-old’s parents took the youngster to the Children’s Clinic of La Jolla. The child may have coughed and sneezed in the office, thus infecting four other children.

Those four patients returned to the clinic between Feb. 5 and 8, possibly spreading the virus to 60 other children.

All of the 11 confirmed patients, from 10 months to 9 years old, were not vaccinated either because they were younger than 1 – the minimum age for measles inoculation – or because their parents objected to having them vaccinated, county officials said.

…and, although it has NEVER been proven that vaccinations cause Autism, and countless studies fail to even make a link, there are still those holdouts that don’t care what science has to offer, the political statement of pharma vitriol means more to them than what they consider to be a minuscule risk. Nevermind that the risk WIDENS and INCREASES as more and more parents decide not to vaccinate. (Oh, the irony!) Facts, in these cases, don’t seem to be a priority.
One physician tries to uncover the psychology of it all…

It seems to have taken on a life of its own and may be a good example of a socio-psychological phenomenon known as “groupthink,” a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive group.

There may be many parents who will never be convinced that the benefits of immunization for their children in most cases outweigh the risks. In free countries, that is their prerogative and I, as a physician, accept that.

Society must understand that such convictions must not dictate public health policy. Failure to offer people a sound vaccination program would no doubt result in a resurgence of contagions such as polio, measles, and heaven forbid, perhaps even smallpox, should the wild virus ever be reintroduced into the world.

The human toll in lives and suffering, long forgotten by our postmodern world, would be incalculable in a jet age which rapidly spreads infectious disease to all continents.

I’m sure we all have different, conflicting examples of “group think” and some “group think” is beneficial to a child, like the disdain of child abuse, but when does group think interfere with our own sensibilities? I think the Internet, for better or worse, has propagated much of this and found validations for practices in which some critical thinking would go a long way. I can think of a bunch just off the top of my head, can’t you?

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