Italian doctor condemns culture that fears children

Dr. Carlo Bellieni
Dr. Carlo Bellieni


According to an Italian neonatal doctor, “pedophobia”—the fear of children—is an obstacle to the realization of the full rights of children today. In an article published in L'Osservatore Romano to mark the 20th anniversary of a U.N. convention for children's rights, he made a case for making children, born and unborn, more accepted in society.

Doctor Carlo Bellieni is a frequent contributor to L'Osservatore Romano on issues of health care, especially bioethics. In a Thursday article to mark the anniversary of the U.N.'s Convention on the Rights of the Child, he addressed a recent report that said children are still "invisible" two decades after its adoption. The 1990 U.N. convention promoted 54 articles outlining special safeguards and care for the children of the world.

Building off of a May 2010 article in the U.K. medical journal "The Lancet" that claimed the child remains "invisible" in today's world, Dr. Bellieni wrote that this is due to a lack of common policies between nations that ensure the protection of children. But above all, he said, it is due to “the fact that we breathe anti-natal propaganda everywhere, we transform the child into a 'right,' we accept it only if it is 'up to measure,' before and after it's born."

Based on today's worldview, Dr. Bellieni extrapolated, the child only has rights if it meets certain set standards, an idea that he called a "terrible premise for universal rights."

The inability of many to accept the child, said the doctor, derives from the fact that adults today have a difficulty acknowledging human dependence. A child, he explained, "obliges us to recognize our personal fragility and dependence - something that deep down scares us."

Emphasizing that it is "a scared and phobic society that rejects the child," he listed several signs the fear of children existing in contemporary culture.

Children, he said, are no long left to "simply play" on their own and "get dirty," for example. It is "a pedophobic society," he pointed out, that only allows a baby to be born after it is submitted to a battery of tests, which sees them as a "parents' right," which sees parents "freeze them as small embryos only to (later) suffocate them with toys to cover their own incapacity to be present."

The "pedophobic culture" also reaches schools, he asserted, pointing to how children are bombarded with information as if they were adults, when the children are just "desperately in search of free social and creative games."

Dr. Bellieni also laid blame for a child-fearing mentality at the feet of the media, which he said promotes the idea that “starting a family is prohibited” and the attitude that only those children who are genetically and culturally homogeneous are acceptable. Given these ideas, the Italian neonatal doctor said it shouldn't be astonishing that parents are “incapable of accepting the child."

Dr. Bellieni added: "the pedophobic society by its nature selects and discriminates; and if it recognizes rights, it ends up recognizing them selectively … "

Commenting on the political arena, he said that politicians must be careful that “pedophobic” tendencies or ideas are not incorporated into their bills or in the ways that urban planning is carried out.

The child, concluded the doctor, "has full human rights and the first right is (that adults) know how to listen to him, and understand his true requests, even when he cannot speak."

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