Patricia McGuire
University president

Patricia McGuire

President of Trinity Washington University.


Video victim

Q: Is it delightful or depressing that David DeVore has been able to turn a YouTube video of his woozy 7-year-old son into a six-figure business? Is this just another version of stage parenting or something more troubling? How do you think the marketing will affect DeVore's son when he gets older?

Ok, I'm officially stumped by this one. Dad posts video of drugged-up child on You Tube, gets 54 million views at last count, makes tons of money on the way to stardom. And we're supposed to admire this because ...??

David, the unwitting subject of his father's shameful entrepreneurship, should find himself a good children's rights lawyer. This is an open-and-shut case of child exploitation. No 7-year-old child pumped up with drugs from major dental work should have his post-operative state exposed to the world forever courtesy of You Tube.

Posting what was obviously a very private video would have been bad enough, but even more bizarre, his father created a website to promote David's exploitation, complete with a store selling products with David's likeness. The logo for this abomination is D.A.D. -- supposedly the acronym for "David After Dentist" but geez, folks, isn't this all really about DAD??

Why is the media extolling this weirdness? If David had no clothes on in the video, DAD would have been arrested instead of hailed as some kind of breakthrough artist. Does child protection stop so long as the kid is wearing a shirt? Predators don't always need to see skin to salivate over images of vulnerable children. Has DAD thought about how many of those 54 million viewers were looking at David for reasons other than learning about how children recover from dental surgery?

David's exploitation illustrates the fact that children are at risk in even the best of families. I am quite sure that David DeVore thinks he's a very good parent. From what I could see by watching the clip of their interview on the "Today" show (posted on the D.A.D. website), he and his wife Tessie seem to be enjoying their 15 minutes of fame, and they are very quick to say that no harm has come to their son, who still seems much too young to know what's really going on.

Certainly, the DeVores' cheerful family tableau is at odds with any conventional notion of child abuse. However, child abuse can take many forms in a society that gives lip service to caring for children but neglects, under-educates, exploits or even physically harms children by the millions.

Abuse starts with an imbalance in the power relationship. A child has no power, legally and practically. A parent or other adult has all of the power, and with that power comes profound responsibility to act in the child's best interests at all times.

Choosing to act in the parents' monetary interests in ways that exploit the child's image and behavior is an abuse of power and betrays the adult's responsibility to protect the child from any possible harm.

Watching David's video gave me the creeps. I felt like a voyeur peeping into a very private moment for this child. David may still be too young to understand how his privacy was sold for his father's fame and fortune, but if his case follows the pattern of so many other child "stars," as he enters adulthood he will have some day of reckoning with his parents and perhaps their family counselor.

By Patricia McGuire  |  April 12, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Parenting Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Woozy and rich | Next: Doors opening


Please report offensive comments below.

Wow. I don't even know where to begin. So, here are just a few things that are very wrong with your thinking:
1) "If David had no clothes on in the video, DAD would have been arrested instead of hailed as some kind of breakthrough artist." So, David IS FULLY clothed. Why are YOU fantasizing about him not being clothed? Also this same argument goes for ANY video --movies, games, etc. with children. Really weird argument and really dirty one.
2) "David should find himself a good children's rights lawyer." This is one of the signature things of the American culture -- sue everyone, including parents. What a great lesson you must be teaching your own kids -- sue your parents! Sue everyone who you don't agree with! Sue!
3) "This is an open-and-shut case of child exploitation. " Who exactly opened and shut this case?
4) "Watching David's video gave me the creeps. I felt like a voyeur peeping into a very private moment for this child. " Can I tell you that YOU creep me out? You are the one imagining naked child in the video where the child is fully clothed and then feeling like a voyeur. There is absolutely nothing sexual in this video, yet somehow you bring up pedophiles and such? Totally agree with HigherExpectations here.

Posted by: Dura | April 14, 2010 4:15 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Wow! Judgmental and projecting much?

How does posting a video for his wife on YouTube make him a pedophilia pimp?

[Physician] heal thyself.

Posted by: HigherExpectations | April 14, 2010 1:42 PM
Report Offensive Comment

This is silly. HOW is what this father did any different than the multitude of parents who submit video of their children running/falling/skidding/slipping/getting hurt to America's Funniest Videos in the hopes of winning $100,000? Are they all abusive, exploitative parents also?

Posted by: celliff | April 14, 2010 11:52 AM
Report Offensive Comment

"An open and shut case of child abuse" ....? What planet are you living on?

Posted by: collegekid | April 14, 2010 11:30 AM
Report Offensive Comment

If the issue is about pedophiles drooling over kids, shouldn't we take issue with any child actor in any movie or TV show? Or if there isn't concern there because those kids are rich enough to have protection around, how about the televising of the National Spelling Bee, the Little League World Series, and any gameshow on Nickelodeon?

I don't see how "exploitation" is more palatable when it's a studio writing the checks.

Posted by: hbc1 | April 14, 2010 10:57 AM
Report Offensive Comment

Gag me with a spoon. The video was nothing more than a recording of an experience in the normal course of a kid's life. The entire affair will be over soon enough. We will all have forgotten the video of David and HE will be reminding us that, "Hey, I was the loopy kid in the video. Remember me?"

David will be no more hurt by this than the crying baby will be because her temper tantrum was shown on American's Funniest Home Videos.

Posted by: InHarmsWay | April 14, 2010 9:21 AM
Report Offensive Comment

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company