CYC-Net on Facebook CYC-Net on Twitter Search CYC-Net

Join Our Mailing List

Discussion Threads

Transcripts of Selected Group Discussions on CYC-Net

Since it's founding in 1997, the CYC-Net discussion group has been asked thousands of questions. These questions often generate many replies from people in all spheres of the Child and Youth Care profession and contain personal experiences, viewpoints, as well as recommended resources.

Below are some of the threads of discussions on varying Child and Youth Care related topics.

Questions and Responses have been reproduced verbatim.

ListenListen to this

Abortion = abuse?

Hello, My name is Candice and I am in 2nd year of Child and Youth Care in Malaspina U. in Nanaimo, B.C.

I am very interested in getting some answers and information about "Abortion being a form of Child Abuse". I have to write a paper and I choose this topic, I have no idea where I can get information, I don't even know if it would be considered a type of abuse and if so why isn't it as a Child and Youth Care main topic. For me, my beliefs and values it is a type of abuse and I would love to look in to it. If hitting a child is so bad. why isn't killing a child even worse? Why is abortion legal and spanking a child not?

As you can see I have a few questions and confusion in my mind. Can you help me out?

Candice Macdonald
Nanaimo, B.C.

The first fundamental question you may face when approaching that paper topic is the issue of when life begins. That tends to be where a majority of the debate lies when it comes to abortion. Those who believe life begins at conception are going to have a significantly different opinion than those who believe life begins at birth (or at any other point than conception, i.e. the second trimester). And if life begins at conception, then does the fetus have all the same human rights as a "non-fetus"? My opinion would be that you need an answer to that question before looking into whether or not abortion should be considered abuse.

What if the pregnancy itself is the result of child abuse? Do the mother's rights trump those of the fetus' or vice versa?

It's definitely an interesting discussion, especially considering it's one that comes up so frequently with youth in care. I'd be interested to see how it varies across cultures and societies as well... Good luck!

Evelyn Downie
YCW in Dartmouth, NS


Hi Candice

You bring up a very valid point and I commend you on your choice of topics.
This will be a difficult one to get a lot of support. My moral values are the same. Now, abortion is one thing and definitely the extreme of abuse to the child but you may want also to think about feeding the child excessive drugs, alcohol etc, through umbilical feeding tube, a source of abuse, even if the mother wanted to keep the baby when it was born. Have you thought about contacting the "Right to Life" organisation for more on this. I have some friends connected with it. But, your topic is abortion and maybe that's all you get to cover. I am a graduate CYW in 2005 and work now as a director for a Youth for Christ, Upper Deck Youth Centre in Southwestern Ontario.

If you would like to contact me for more thoughts on this matter, my email is



Hi Candice,
What a provocative topic and I suspect that it will generate a lot of thoughts and emotions that might not make it to a written response.
Decisions to terminate pregnancies are so individual and personal, as are decisions to surrender the infant for adoption or to parent. This is complicated by issues of rape and incest. Your inquiry also brings forth the question of when does the fetus become a person, at conception or when it can survive outside of the womb. I am respectfully suggesting that until there is a definitive answer beyond the interfere of politics and religion, your quest will be bias as it will be based on your values and beliefs.

Monica Metzler
Edmonton, AB


Hi Candice – I found some good articles on this website, not sure if it would be relevant to what you are looking for. Use their search.




So I'm writing in response to your question regarding abortion. I believe that abortion shouldn't be viewed as abuse in all cases. If you were working in a group home, group care, or any residential program and you had a young female client approach you and disclose that she was pregnant...yet you knew that she was a drug and/or alcohol user and that her having this baby would cause major problems to the child (ex: addiction issues, FADS, or even still born), then I believe it would be in the young females best interest to view all her options, including abortion.

On top of that, if you have the same situation but she also discloses that she was raped or forced into sexual intercourse without consent, then I believe that it would also be in her best interest to know all of her options. Even with all this considered, I believe in informing of all options (keeping the child, adoption, or abortion) first and not advocating that abortion be their only option. It is situations or scenarios such as those that makes me advocate that abortion should not be viewed as abuse.

Thanks for taking the time to read my personal opinion. Good luck with your assignment!

Jessica M


Hi Candice,
You have chosen a very difficult, but interesting topic. I doubt very much that you will find any real empirical, reliable studies on this subject. Any material you will find is likely to be strongly "opinionated". Perhaps that is the challenge in your paper? There will be arguments for both "sides", and it is essentially a moral question. It would be very difficult therefore to argue one "side" of this question. I think the questions you are asking are very valid ones however, and perhaps your paper should not try to answer this question, as much as asking more questions, and asking the "right" questions to stimulate more debate. By the way, on a more personal note, I agree with your position. I look forward to following the discussion on this one!

Good luck,
Werner van der Westhuizen
Port Elizabeth, South Africa


Hi Candice,
I have struggled with this issue all my life. Especially during my wife's pregnancies with our 2 daughters. Depending on the circumstances facing us the balance between our own self interest and that of subscribing to universal rights can oscillate. I was forced to think again when listening to this BBC radio 4 programme on stem cell research. It appears that even God is confused as those claiming to be his voice on earth are sometimes at odds.

I would suggest listening to the programme if only for the ethical dilemma presented around the saving of one live baby over 5 000 embryos.

Go to and choose the 3rd September prog.

Cheers, Jeremy
The Robert Gordon University
A Scottish charity registered under charity number SCO 13781.


Hi Candice,
What a loaded topic! Sort of like politics and religion... We have come a long way (baby?)! Looking back historically, women in our country fought long and hard for the right of choice. Previously there were many unfortunate and unnecessary deaths due to unsanitary and neglectful conditions from people performing abortions, including women themselves.
Our societal norms have changed immensely and thankfully today there are many support services available for those young women that choose to continue their pregnancy. However, even though things have changed, some things stay the same. For most, choosing to keep their children will constrain the future of both mother and child. Many of our youth do not have the family supports to assist with the lifelong task of parenting.
Many of our youth have not resolved their own personal issues of being parented. As someone who has worked with female adolescents for many years, the bottom line is, I need to be supportive of their choice. This may mean setting up counseling so they can make as fully informed a choice as possible, and providing ongoing services to respect those choices. Staying focused to the needs of the individual is my job as a Child & Youth Worker and working together to support our youth is our responsibility as a profession. Now, who is everyone voting for?

Good luck:)))
Diane Rapkoski
Ontario, Canada


Hi Everyone,

I have to say that I would agree with Doug if we approached the topic purely from a legal perspective. However, the many responses do seem to indicate that there is something worth discussing here, and if it is a matter of people's personal beliefs, then as far as I'm concerned, so be it. I am not totally convinced that we always serve the best interest of children by being completely "objective" and avoiding the tough stuff. I am actually quite open in stating that my moral convictions do play a major role in shaping how I respond to the needs of children and youth, and although some will disagree, I think that makes me a better practitioner. It certainly does not mean that I impose my beliefs on other. There is more than one way to be helpful to children. I don't want to steer the discussion in a different direction, but I think there should be room for those of us who have strong beliefs, both personal and professional, about the topic of abortion.

Werner van der Westhuizen
Port Elizabeth, South Africa


I think that is the hardest part of the job-putting your beliefs aside. What I would do is to tell the mother to research this option well. This is a decision that will affect her for the rest of her life. Why? Because before a girl goes ahead with the actual procedure of abortion, she has an ultrasound to see whether there is more than one baby and she finds out the baby's estimated date of birth. I was trained in pregnancy counseling and I know what actually goes on during the procedure. After I did this research, I completely changed my mind about abortion. What they don't tell you is that even before you find out you're pregnant, your baby's heart is beating and the brain and kidneys have developed. They usually do these abortions in the 10th or 11th week when the baby is fully formed-he's just very little. Another thing they don't tell you is that the baby can feel pain and fear.
When the person doing the procedure enters his home (the uterus) with a metal rod & a suction device, the baby squirms away from it, but he can't beat the scary device. It grabs hold of him and rips out all his limbs and tears him to pieces. After the procedure is done and the girl is put in a waiting room for 15 minutes, the doctor puts the baby together like a puzzle to make sure that all the body pieces have been removed. Any remains might cause infection. You don't believe me? Check it out for yourselves: Google it or YouTube it. I would tell my youths to do it too. And why do you think there is such thing as Post-Abortion Depression? A girl might regret her decision.
Immediately after the abortion, a girl literally and emotionally feels EMPTY. This is when they might turn to alcohol & drugs or becomes depressed or angry. Some might become more promiscuous due to low self-esteem or some might be scared to get involved in future relationships. Some might not show any signs yet, but it does catch up to them later in life. I'm sorry for the graphic detail, but it's the TRUTH. Abstinence is truly the best way to prevent this. It's too bad this society (T.V shows, T.V personalities, Music lyrics, Music Videos) accepts, glamorizes and encourages teen sex.



Hello all,
What a topic, it makes everyone to think, not only women, also men!

The question I have is who makes these kinds of rules, laws, and etc. are where are they coming from? Religiously, if a woman goes through abortion is against God, and Church, Mosque, and Senega makes you feel guilty! Now, how many of these places help a woman, or a family with a new born baby?? Do not we have enough children in the world that have no food to eat? No school to attend? Die in war or .....?
Personally I think is more guilt (setting a child up to fail and setting a child up to be abused) if anyone allow a human being comes to this world without being prepared for it. Politically, I believe in a capitalism system, abortion may view as an abuse, because if any woman allow her baby comes to this world regardless of the living condition, it will add another child labourer to the market! Why should do abortion, when we can use the children (make profit out of them in rugs factories, or shoes companies) then kill them or they die eventually!
Conclusion: I also do not think that only women can make the choice to do it or not, it must be mutual between partners if there is...Killing a human being is not good in any sort, but sometimes we have to make a choice between bad and worse.




I impose my moral and ethical beliefs every day. I always tell the kids that I work with that lying, stealing, cheating, setting up others and assaulting others is harmful and is not socially acceptable.



It sounds to me like you're grappling personally with how it can be possible for abortion not to be a crime or considered a form of child abuse – since it kills kids?

If what I'm hearing is right, then I would suggest you look closely at some of the opposing arguments with intentions for understanding and respecting their perspectives as well. I agree with Evelyn Downie – the argument is about the definition of life in terms of when it begins. For example, while Pro-Lifers might say that life begins at conception – therefore abortion is the murder of an individual person who is living inside another individual at the time, Pro-Choicers might say that life begins at birth – a pregnant woman is but one person that has 2 (or more if she's conceived twins, etc.) heads, noses, etc and 4 hands, feet, ears...(you get the picture) until she gives birth to another individual person. It's also been pointed out that there is a third argument – that some point between conception and birth is when human life begins.

As a student, you may also want to be aware that some courses/instructors may lean more one way than the other, too! For example, it is possible that an instructor might suggest that the debate is over and life indeed begins before birth because recent research findings indicate that there is much more (and pretty remarkable) fetal development in the womb than we ever knew about before. I'd urge you to keep in mind, however, that regardless of what is discovered about the degree and nature of development of a fetus, assumptions are still being made as to what nature and degree of development might ultimately constitute individual human life and when it begins.

Self-awareness: We must know our own values and how they do or can influence our work with others. Also, please do not simply look to the law or to others to tell you what is right/wrong, ethical, logical, abuse or murder. For example, the last 2 terms are, but are not limited to being legal terms, and laws are to be based on morals, not the other way around. I agree with Doug that it is important that Child and Youth Care practitioners do not impose our own personal or religious values on the kids with whom we work. I also believe it is ethical, responsible and professional to decline working with a child/youth on a subject matter if you know you cannot equally present all available options. It happens all the time in our field and others too. In this way, workers do not feel that they must suppress their true beliefs and compromise their own integrity in order to do their jobs professionally, such as feeling the need to promote abortion as a viable option to a pregnant teen when you really feel abortion is murder.

Good topic, Candice. The sharing of your dynamic project grapplings stimulates most constructive introspection for others regardless of their existing positions on the topic – thank you!

Vancouver, BC


I was going to stay out of this, but KM and Werner van der Westhuizen, posts drew me in.

I wonder how a morality that suggests that abortion is acceptable might be judged? A complicating aspect of this for me is that my wife and I just had a baby boy 4 weeks ago and he is the greatest ever. And I accept (much as I am sure the other side does) that the Right to Life position picks and chooses on issues of humanity and care for the living. An individual's right to control their own body is that, their own right. I cringe when I hear the myth often proposed by anti-abortionists that advocates and practitioners of abortion are somehow lying to or not telling women who consider abortion all the risks and consequences of ending their pregnancy. How much do we hear on this side (pro-choice) that anti-abortion/pro-life (itself a disingenuous category; pro-choicers are not anti-life) do not consider the results of bringing a child into a world of poverty, drug abuse, world hunger, genocide, global climate change etc. I accept that adoption is an option and that it requires the mother to carry the baby to full term, perhaps in disregard for the many challenges a mindful pregnancy should be present to.

The problem with this debate is a problem of cross-cultural and interfaith dialogue. There are many positions, especially in my country (USA) that are non-productive, partisan, wedge issues meant to divide rather than bridge.

For me the premise of this thread is divisive. In my country (USA) many of the most vehement and outspoken ant-abortion activists are white men who have little activism or support for anti-poverty, welfare rights, women's rights or multicultural diversity issues facing folks of color. They want the kids to be safe to live, but quality of life... forget about it. And then even we condemn the low-income folks with little education, no health care, no daycare, etc for the plight that they got into. "Shouldn't be having babies 'those welfare cheats."

And globally, many of the anti-abortion crowd are also ignorantly pro-abstinence or against the use of protection or sex education that isn't scary and false. Condoms? Birth control? What about the rights of self-determination. What about eliminating poverty with a minimum wage entitlement for all? My faith says as much about these such policies as they do about the Right to Life (I am a Quaker). Policies that protect fetuses run the risk of denying mothers self-determination. I am sure others will ask about the self-determination of the fetus and for me the fetus is apart of the woman's body until it is born and therefore her right to choose (after education on all aspects- including those identified by KM) what occurs. Oedipal needs and beliefs of others need not apply.

Peter D

The International Child and Youth Care Network

Registered Public Benefit Organisation in the Republic of South Africa (PBO 930015296)
Incorporated as a Not-for-Profit in Canada: Corporation Number 1284643-8

P.O. Box 23199, Claremont 7735, Cape Town, South Africa | P.O. Box 21464, MacDonald Drive, St. John's, NL A1A 5G6, Canada

Board of Governors | Constitution | Funding | Site Content and Usage | Advertising | Privacy Policy | Contact us

iOS App Android App