Should government be responsible for mandating personal behavior? The New York Times reports on a new directive that’s reaching into the mouths of four year olds in Massachusetts — the first state to require tooth brushing time at preschools. Under the new mandate, children must brush during class and learn about oral health. Some kids without the motor skills to brush correctly would presumably need their teachers’ help.
The regulations are “being praised by some parents and caregivers while causing a tempest in a toothbrush for others,” wrote Times reporter Katie Zezima, who quoted one mom as saying “I don’t want someone’s hand in my child’s mouth,” and another who said, “We don’t need the state mandating every little thing in our lives. Let parents be parents.”
Many online comments supported the new program. “Seriously?” asked one reader. “How can anyone be opposed to maintaining and teaching oral hygiene to children?” It’s “a worthy goal,” wrote another. But among those opposed was one person adamant about the limits of government responsibility. “Brush your teeth, wash your armpits, clip your toenails, scrub your underwear, etc. No!!” the commenter wrote. “That’s parenting – not Big Brothering.”
Tell us what you think: Should the state be responsible for mandating personal behavior? Is the Massachusetts mandate appropriate or does it go too far?