“Children” is not defined by age. Here, “children” is an emotional state.
First there are the real children, those who are really young and innocent by age. But there are more. All of us — no matter how old we are — have times when we turn (back) into “children”: when we are weak, when we are lonely, desperate, disappointed, in love etc.
To persuade children, you don’t need secrets like those being advertised in books or seminars. Maybe you need secrets on how to persuade adults, but persuading children is simple. Everyone knows how to do it.
And no, this is not a philosophical debate on whether persuasion itself is ethical. I really don’t care how people persuade an adult, because adults can take responsibility for their own actions. I just want to talk about the children.
Children are dependent on some people in their lives — the “adults”. The stronger this relationship, the easier a child can be persuaded. However, some (not all) of the most common ways to persuade children have some unintentional side effects:
- Sometimes the side effects will hurt the children themselves: they become insecure, compulsive and over dependent on others.
- However some children may respond by protecting themselves: they become self righteous, intolerant to others. They tend to discriminate those who are not like them.
It is because of these side effects that I call them the unethical ways to persuade children.
I am not saying that people who persuade children with those side effects are themselves unethical. I believe that people do what is best with whatever resources they have. It is only normal that we persuade children the way we were being persuaded when we were young. That is a trait of the side effects — they spread like a virus.
And there are a lot of good intentions behind persuading children. But as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I just believe that it is true for this case.
Is “unethical” the right word to use? I am actually quite undecided at this moment. Please tell me what you think.
What I am clear about is I don’t want to work against people. I want to work with them, especially because I am one of them. I don’t want to be another person who just criticise the common practice. I will follow up with a post on the mission of this project.