Does this viral video of a toddler constitute child abuse?

“You want to try wasabi?” a mum asks her toddler, wasabi in one hand and phone in the other. She’s filming her response.

“No,” the little girl called Rosie responds.

The mum asks again.

“Do you want to try it?”

“No,” she says.

As the mother prepared to drop the subject, Rosie wails: “Wasabi.”

She tries it, looks at the camera and, with a little cry, says “help”.

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It’s the video that’s gone viral on the internet, clocking up millions of views across the globe. Some think it’s a hilarious and relatable take on how we feel about wasabi, others are calling it child abuse.

“Someone needs to turn this video into authority for child abuse! Wasabi burns, and when it does burn the mouth it could also choke the kid,” wrote one person.

“Not only is that not adorable, but I’m sure that’s borderline abuse. That poor girl. She also wasn’t really ‘warned,’ more like coaxed into it. Why would the mum laugh at her reaction?” another said.

So does something like this actually constitute “abuse” as some internet folk have pointed out?

According to clinical psychologist Amanda Gordon, it’s not the content of the video that we should be concerned about. Instead, she argues, it’s all about intent:

“Quite honestly, this is no more child abuse than having a child taste a lemon, or allowing them a bite of your hot dog with mustard. However, it did seem that the reluctant child was being coerced into tasting something for the pre-set-up camera, not to enhance her willingness to taste foods nor even because she was tempted to eat what her mother was eating.

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“It is sort of exhibitionist – much like the way many parents seem to be parenting nowadays – for other peoples’ edification, rather for the engagement and learning of the child.”

Gordon argues there’s something more important we should be discussing, and that’s the really common practice in viral parenting videos of using the child as both the object and the punchline.

“It was clearly the intention of the parent to get some footage to upload. It is using the child as an object. If that is the way the parent generally interacts with the child, then that is bad for the child.

“If the child is a performer rather than someone who is free to take risks and try new things, without fear of humiliation, then they will be a very damaged adult. If it is a one-off fun event, an experiment, no longterm harm will arise.”

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What do you think – does this video constitute abuse?

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