9 Mar 2018

When children become political tools 

As the Hungarian elections approach, children are frequently used by politicians to boost their image. This is considered to be a political “investment” in future voters.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
When children become political tools  - NewsMavens
Kids. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Using kids for political purposes is not only ethically problematic -- it also violates our law on public education.

But nevermind ethics and legal technicalities. In marketing, the rule is that any product can be sold as long as it's advertised with a cute baby or a puppy. And since it works so well for companies, Hungarian politicians have decided to try it too. 

During the countdown to the April 8 elections, politicians have become frequent guests in schools and even kindergartens. Alternatively, photogenic pre-schoolers have been invited to political events. The “special” moments are usually well-documented on social media.

(in the photo -- Recently, in Csepreg, children were told to kneel down at the inauguration of a newly renovated road. The mayor, who was present at the event, later explained that this was part of an old Hungarian tradition.)

Setting aside the questionable PR tactics, let's consider the consequences of this trend. The politicians meet these children at a vulnerable age, intellectually speaking, and begin describing crucial political issues to them. 

It seems they are trying to groom a generation of loyal voters.

This is not to say that children should be kept away from politics but there is a fine line between education and indoctrination.

politics, education

Details from the story:

  • According to the law on public education, there is no space for political campaigns in kindergartens and schools.
  • Hintalovon Child Rights Foundation warned politicians that children are not tools but citizens who have political rights.
  • Szilvia Gyurko, an expert on children’s rights, claimed that parents, as well as the directors of kindergartens and schools, should be made more aware of this kind of danger.
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