Rap videos no basis for abuse case
There has been recent controversy over “Lil’ Poopy,” 9-year-old rapper Luie Rivera Jr. from Massachusetts, due to the nature of the YouTube videos in which he stars.
In these videos, Lil’ Poopy references all the staples of the rap genre — money, drugs, and women. The particular video that garnered the attention of state child welfare officials, however, is most controversial because the fourth grader is seen slapping a woman on her rear end.
Before we get into any discussion of the ethics of Lil’ Poopy’s videos, I would like to make one thing clear: Lil’ Poopy is a terrible rapper. Although it may seem a mean thing to say about a 9-year-old, I think it’s important to establish that the boy is not some Mozart-esque child prodigy that the world would greatly suffer without.
If he had been, it would make my position more defensible: This child should not be taken away from his parents and the videos themselves do not warrant an investigation.
While I morally object to what the parents are exposing their child to, removing a child from his or her family should only be reserved for extreme cases of child abuse and neglect.
Every family has had instances of questionable parenting that society would frown upon. However, removing children from their families will always leave deep, long-term emotional damage. The question is whether or not the actions of the family harm a child so deeply that removing the child from the family is necessary.
At this point, there is no real evidence of abuse that would warrant removing the child from his home. If the investigation uncovers actual instances of physical or emotional abuse, then I would certainly support the removal of the child from his family. However, the videos themselves are merely distasteful, not evidence of severe abuse.
As for the video in which Lil’ Poopy is depicted slapping the woman, it’s important to remember that Natalie Portman, Jodie Foster, and Brooke Shields were all featured in films where they played very sexually suggestive roles at a young age. Their parents were not investigated for abuse and neglect. Furthermore, child pageant parents are not investigated when their children wear overtly sexual clothing on stage. What is it about this case that is drastically different?
Perhaps it is the association with hip-hop, and especially rap, with explicitly adult themes that makes this case so flagrant.
However, the decision to remove a child from his or her family should not be a decision based on cultural stereotypes; instead, the decision should be based off of a careful analysis of evidence as to whether or not there is actual abuse going on in a household.
While I hate the fact that parents would think it appropriate for a 9-year-old to rap about drugs and sex, it would be worse if child services removed children from their parents simply because of distaste over the parenting style that they exhibit.