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Are Children Basically Bad


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#1    StarMountainKid

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 03:53 AM

I was surfing on Youtube and happened on a clip of the old Jack Parr show with Billy Graham. At one point Mr. Graham said, “You don’t have to teach a child to be bad, you teach a child to be good.”

I had to push the pause button at that moment. My question is why do human beings need to be taught to be moral (if indeed they do)? Are we basically malicious creatures from childhood? Could a society without moral instruction become moral by itself?

If you’ve ever seen the movie, “Lord of the Flies” or read the book you’ll know what I’m getting at. I know this is an old question, but I'd be interested in your comments.

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#2    the1truebat

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 04:07 AM

I don't think that people are born bad. I think that people are taught to be selfish and later learn to act otherwise.
As a small child, everything is focused on and around you, for that time you basically run things. As you grow older, you learn that it's not all about you and you find your spot in society, for good or for ill.

Edited by the1truebat, 07 March 2013 - 04:11 AM.

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#3    IamsSon

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 04:08 AM

I don't think humans are inherently bad, just inherently self-centered.

"But then with me that horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?" - Charles Darwin, in a letter to William Graham on July 3, 1881

#4    Rocketgirl

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 04:45 AM

I don't think children are born good or bad. However, the way they are raised will depend on if they turn out good or bad. It's all about nurture in my opinion.

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#5    Beany

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 04:56 AM

One of my sons actually got beat up by an angry midget because he did nothing to defend himself; he said later it just didn't seem like it would have been a fair fight. I was proud of him for that, but kind of embarassed, too, that a midget beat him up. I didn't have to teach my children to be good or kind, they came into the world that way, and now that they're adults, nothing has changed. I think we do sometimes unconsciously teach children to be mean-spirited, aggressive, and egocentric by failing to talk about moral & ethics, right vs wrong, etc.


#6    Rocketgirl

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 04:59 AM

View PostBeany, on 07 March 2013 - 04:56 AM, said:

One of my sons actually got beat up by an angry midget because he did nothing to defend himself; he said later it just didn't seem like it would have been a fair fight. I was proud of him for that, but kind of embarassed, too, that a midget beat him up. I didn't have to teach my children to be good or kind, they came into the world that way, and now that they're adults, nothing has changed. I think we do sometimes unconsciously teach children to be mean-spirited, aggressive, and egocentric by failing to talk about moral & ethics, right vs wrong, etc.


You might not have taught your children to be good directly, but they learned how to be good from watching you do good things. That's where they learned it from.

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#7    Goddess_Lilith

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 05:14 AM

I don't think you have to teach a child to be "good", I think you have to teach a child everything. I think children get in trouble not for being "bad" but more so for being curious.


#8    Godofcats

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 05:46 AM

I don't know if a child is really naturally good or bad. they're born and they know nothing so its up to the people around them to teach them how to act. maybe a better way to phrase it is children ate naturally rebellious.


#9    ascendant606

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 05:51 AM

Perspective has a lot to do with things, almost anything can be seen as right or wrong from different perspectives. From past experince, there are two different main types of people, People who veiw themselves to be most important and people who veiw others to be most imporant. It is my beileif that the majority of people veiw themselves to be the most important, and that isn't nessicarily bad but your actions will reflect this. So therefore, i think it is importatnt to introduce the concept that others feel things just as acutely as yourself and that there is more to life than just yourself.

Edited by ascendant606, 07 March 2013 - 05:52 AM.

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#10    Purifier

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 07:00 AM

Are Children Basically Bad?



Nope! Just got to be taught how to control their selfish negative desires and focus on their positive desires. Basic parenting 101.

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#11    QuiteContrary

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 07:04 AM

Unfortunately, it isn't only parents who shape their kids. And likewise, fortunately, it isn't only parents who shape their kids.


#12    Frank Merton

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 08:04 AM

Each individual is a person, and that person is whatever he or she is.  This applies to children too, although most of the personality traits the child will have take awhile to reveal themselves.  This is the "nature" side of the issue.

Can we change what a person is?  The answer is, "yes," a little, but it is damn hard and we have to keep our expectations reasonable.  A true sociopath (one to five percent of the population) -- someone born with no ability to form a conscience -- is not going to be changed by being disciplined or encouraged or punished or rewarded.  They are what they are, and will pull the wings off whatever they get a hold of.  A parent who is unfortunate enough to have such a child has to practice a policy of disincentives (although since this trait seems to run in families, the parents may also be sociopaths).

This is rare.  Most children are born with a strong desire to please their parents, along with a bunch of other desires that may not be so pleasing to their parents, and an inbred drive to learn the ethical rules of the culture (known as conscience).  This is the other side of the issue, "nurture," and is partly under the control of parents, although most studies have shown that peers play a greater role.

What to conclude: in life take each person as what they are, not what you think they should be, and don't judge.  With children, do the same.  Try to develop the child's strengths but always remember that they are a person, not a little toy or robot or bit of clay that you can mold.  It won't work.


#13    Moon Gazer

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 08:26 AM

View Postthe1truebat, on 07 March 2013 - 04:07 AM, said:

I don't think that people are born bad. I think that people are taught to be selfish and later learn to act otherwise.
As a small child, everything is focused on and around you, for that time you basically run things. As you grow older, you learn that it's not all about you and you find your spot in society, for good or for ill.

This is pretty much exactly what I was going to write!

My kids are not "bad".  But I think like all kids they have moments of extreme selfishness.  That is why you teach sharing and being kind to each other from an early age.  My boys are 4 and 6 and can still be selfish at times.


#14    spud the mackem

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 09:07 AM

NO way are children bad,they are born with survival instincts,and have to learn the difference between good and bad.they establish a "pecking order",the same as a pride of lions, or a family of monkeys.the eldest or the largest usually being the leader.They dont see stealing from another child as bad unless they are taught thats its not the done thing.The family members around them teach them how to behave.Children in good families are brought up to respect their elders and later pass this on, but in bad families its the "survival of the fittest".A lot depends on which company they keep.And as they grow older they soon realise the difference between good and bad.

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#15    aryannatimothy

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 09:27 AM

I do not believe we are born bad and being bad is a natural trait. Everyone who is capable of loving has something good inside. Love is one thing we all experience and from that alone, I can say that we are naturally good- there are only distractions that come along the way that's why we do bad things (for a reason).

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