Labeling Children

While labels help organize information and is indeed a basis for communicating about a child, diagnostic tools are not always accurate, and labels potentially carry a stereotyping and stigmatizing effect.

I’d like to think that each and every one of us influences children. Therefore, we have to consider the way in which we talk about children, and the positive and negative effects that can have on them.

I am indeed proud to say there are a number of great advocates out there. People who come from all walks of life. People who come from a huge diverse nation like ours, in terms of education, culture, family construction, finances, and so much more. Each one of them advocating for the rights of every child; – to be raised happy, healthy and in a safe environment. Not forgetting the professionals from schools, therapists, doctors, media, welfare organizations, and other settings who provide for these children and do these best to portray them in a positive light.

Sure, labeling has its advantages.

  • It allows special interest groups to promote specific programmes and spur legislative actions.
  • By using labels, professionals find it easier to relate and promote the child’s condition to each other.
  • Funding of special education programmes are often based on specific categories of exceptionality.
  • In some ways, it also helps make the special needs more visible in the public eye.

However, we should also consider the negative aspects of doing so. Everytime we refer to a child by his or her label, we are taking something away from their humanity. We are helping the child develop an unhealthy self-concept. By focusing on this negative aspect, we are forcing the rest of the world to concentrate on the negative aspect of the child. The child is seen as a diagnosis, instead of a human being who deserves to be loved equally.

Labels tend to have a certain permanence about them. A child faces difficulty to attain the “status of a normal child” for the rest of his or her life. On top of this, the classification of special needs children requires of great amount of expenditure and time. Expenditure and time, that which can be better spent learning how to help these children slip into our “normal” setting.
This is an issue I feel everyone should be concerned about, and be involved in. It is a global issue which affects our future. Let’s always bear in mind that these children grow up to be our future. We should allow allow no one, to dehumanize any child.

Let’s put in a concious effort to be always mindful of the language we use, thus allowing more people to use it against these children. Let us instead use this time to acknowledge the child’s capabilities and learn ways on building up on their capabilities. By using positive language and avoiding labels, we are on the road to creating a difference. Children then grow to be stronger and self-assured, thus resulting in capable young adults.

Let’s make a better person out of every child, every adult and ourselves.

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