Nip, tuck not childproof

By BenitaZepeda

Let’s face it, children can be brutally honest and quite mean to one another. Because Internet access has transformed the way children and young adults bully each other, some parents have not completely forgotten about hardships on the playground. It’s a given that no one wants their child to be teased in school, but how far is too far when it comes to protecting children?

Some parents opt to pay for cosmetic surgery to stop his or her child from being bullied because of the way they look. In 2008, roughly 160,283 children under 18 had cosmetic interventions, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Although some procedures were performed because of birth defects, not

all were.

It’s sad that children are going under the knife to try to live a peaceful, ridicule-free life. At the same time, a less-invasive procedure will better the mental health of elementary school students, such as pinning ears if they are the subject of mockery. That seems like a different story. However, I have known people under the age of 18 who had parental permission for breast implants before they were fully developed, which is absurd.

So where is the line drawn? If a child is born with features one might consider undesirable, is surgery the right answer? The answer is no. I understand reconstructive surgery for birth defects such as a cleft lip or procedures that eliminate health issues, but what’s unnecessary is altering one’s appearance in fear of how others might judge your child. This extreme course of action isn’t going to stop one’s child from being ridiculed for the rest of his or her life. Kids make fun of each other all the time. It’s just part of what they do.

As far as young adults under age 18, the idea of cosmetic surgery to enhance one’s looks should be completely denied if there is no medical reason the procedure needs to be done.

What are these parents teaching their children if they arrange the surgery? Our consumer-driven culture already bombards people with hundreds of advertisements each day. Young adults already compare themselves to digitally-altered photographs of models on billboards and in magazines, consciously or not. It’s hard to boost a teased child’s self-esteem, but it’s harder to eliminate the sense of instant gratification that spending money on a quick cosmetic fix can cause.

Parents should be learning to communicate with their children about bullying, reinforcing positive attitudes at home and teaching them how to handle situations with their peers. After all, when these children’s parents were young, cosmetic surgery wasn’t available for kids. If children are taught to have tolerance of others, these types of procedures wouldn’t have to be done.