“There is nothing so horrific as child murder, yet it is ubiquitous in human nature. What drives a parent to kill a baby?”
By: Sandra Newman
Published: Aeon Magazine, https://aeon.co/essays/the-roots-of-infanticide-run-deep-and-begin-with-poverty
Level of Difficulty: ***
· Click on the audio recording to the left of your screen and follow as you listen. Highlight the main points and the important details
1. What widely held belief did Peter Singer contradict?
2. Singer’s basic reasoning seems to be borne out / not borne out by historical fact because…
3. The surprising reason for the above is the undisputed fact that…
4. What view does the study with Norway rats contradict? Be precise.
5. Read the examples of infanticide in the animal kingdom. What overall conclusion can be drawn from these examples?
6. The human attitude to infanticide is best compared to that of…
7. It is understood from the text that human infanticide is mainly practiced for rational reasons/ emotional reasons/ practical reasons/ sensible reasons/ social reasons.
8. Read the story of the Chinese woman. Does her story support or contradict the above statement?
9. What knee-jerk reaction to the story is proved to be wrong by the same story?
10. We understand from the customs in ancient Athens, early Scandinavia and the Christian world in the 17th century that the cut off point for infanticide was…………because it was then that the child was………………………
11. What method of disposing of an infant seems to be most favored? Why?
12. What characterized the methods of killing mothers resorted to? There was…
13. Read the account of the attitude of the law to infanticide. What conclusion can we draw from the information provided?
· There was strong public disapproval of neonaticide
· There was tacit acceptance of neonaticide in society
· The legal measures to stop neonaticide were for show
14. Read the account of the foundling hospitals. These institutions were successful/ unsuccessful in fulfilling their mission because….
15. The only development that finally curbed infanticide was….
16. Current public attitude to the real story of infanticide throughout history is one of acceptance/ approval/ disbelief/ fury/ scorn. The reason is that many in the modern world firmly believe that…
17. Read the account of child sacrifice in South America and Carthage. The major difference between the practice in this part of the world and elsewhere is that….
18. The above practice seems justifiable if we consider that…
19. We understand from the account of current circumstances that infanticide is rife/ there is more infanticide than meets the eye/ infanticide is still being widely practiced / infanticide is thankfully very rare.
20. The case of Senegal proves that ….
Use all you have learnt to write an essay discussing the reasons for infanticide.
INFANTICIDE KEY AND TEACHERS’ NOTES
This shocking yet gripping text should be engrossing enough for students to stick with the task at hand. It is also a very illuminating text on a taboo subject and as such should lead to some lively discussion and a good writing task. Listening to the text being read out should be useful.
1. That the life of a child is sacred
2. The perceived innocence of children was more likely to make them seem like ideal sacrifices to a blood thirsty god
3. The predilection for murdering children shortly after they are born is hardwired in the human brain.
4. That animals kept in confinement can kill even devour their offspring
5. In evolutionary terms some infants are disposable
6. The Norway rat
7. Practical reasons
8. It supports it
9. That it was a callous crime ; or She was a sociopath
10. Baptism; brought to the attention of the community
11. Exposure; it allowed parents the consolation that they had not murdered their babies and let them fantasize that their child might be saved and adopted
12. As little violence as possible
13. The second
14. Unsuccessful; most of the foundlings died
15. The popularization of condoms
16. Some ultimate taboo is being broken
17. The victims were unblemished and of unusual beauty
18. One child is sacrificed so that the family may thrive
19. There is more infanticide than meets the eye
20. Infanticide could make a larger comeback