Harm Reduction - why is it harmful?

Discussion in 'Defending the Faith' started by Eoghan, Apr 4, 2019.

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  1. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    First experienced this at a school where I worked - instinctively knew it was wrong but not why.

    This is something I am going to nibble away at so if this post goes dormant just PM me

  2. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    What is the context? If it is in an instructor/student setting, I think it misses a whole lot.

    For example, I'd hope a teacher would "rescue" a student who was being chased by another with a sharp object.

    Are we supposed to "support" stupid behavior in shop class?

  3. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    Wait, Mr. Bottomly. Are you tellin' me that all things do not occur/should not be interpreted within a vacuum/same vacuum? Are you tellin' me sometimes judgment must be involved, and we cannot equally apply all things to every person without exception at all times in every place/station? Is that what you're gettin' at?! :D
  4. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    You can't change people's bad decisions. That's what I think the post is getting at. You can't be a white knight for people. What you can do is minimize the situations where disaster can occur.
  5. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    I think it is akin to the containment model that probation officers use where they try to prevent reoffense rather than cure or reform someone.
  6. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Yeah, I think that is where I'm gettin'.

    I certainly can agree with that and I apply it to my work every day.

    Just this week I prevailed on a suppression motion in a drug case because the police got really sloppy on a search warrant. I told my client two days ago, "you avoided 4 years of prison on a technicality. Think about what you are doing and remember, law enforcement will be watching you and will not make the same mistake." After she assured me she would change her life, find new friends, etc., she left.

    One day later, she was back in jail on the same kind of charges. This time there were no mistakes in the search warrant. No rescue in sight from me, just a plain statement of consequences.

    But harm reduction has to be applied with judgment. It is wise to let children try and fail tasks so that they understand reality, but it would be foolish to hold children to the standard of maturity and honor their bad choices without preventive guidance.
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  7. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    You all are tough up there.
  8. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Harm Reduction typically operates on the assumption that people are going to do things that we don't like, but we shouldn't judge them for it and should attempt to minimize the harm they do to themselves. This is the basis for safe injection sites that provide clean needles to addicts, shelters that provide alcohol to the homeless, giving out condoms at schools, etc.

    Where it's wrong is that it assumes that these behaviors do not have a moral dimension and are not wrong/sinful. In truth, it makes the government or organization party to the sin by facilitating it. Even if it didn't do those things, I question the wisdom of attempting to completely remove the natural consequences of sinful behaviors. It is man asserting his autonomy from the economy set up by God.
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  9. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Yes. Possession with intent to deliver.
    Soft at first, but if criminal history piles up, it gets exponentially tougher.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
  10. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    We used to give first offenders 10 years - 3 to serve, balance on probation. (The state wouldn't bother to pick them up if it was less than 3 to serve.) After they got processed by the state, we'd bring them back and re-sentence them to time served, balance 10 years probation. Then we didn't have to re-try them - they got caught again, it was off for the rest of the 10 years (we'd take a plea for the new charges concurrent plus what ever additional probation). But that was many decades ago in the deep, deep, south.
  11. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I want to see the unsaved escape bodily harm even if they will not come into church. Therefore, harm reduction is useful...

    NARCAN is useful to reverse the effects of Drug ODs and so I thank God for NARCAN. Condoms were made to reduce the risks of promiscuity. There are civil/secular benefits to many of these harm reduction strategies. Clean needles for junkies is a controversial one, but there are many other examples.

    Stupidity is also a sin, but we put safety buttons on rifles for a reason. We also put signs next to forbidden/dangerous areas such as cliffs and waterfalls and riverwalks and yet often ALSO put a fence to block entrance because we know that somebody might try to trespass to their own hurt or death.

    So harm reduction is seen as an application of love towards others.
  12. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Certainly, and by general equity an extension of the principle of roof guards in Deuteronomy 22:8.

    I think the rub in the modern use of harm reduction is the message that we can't say such and such behavior is dangerous, lest we come across as judgmental.

    I'm all for keeping drug addicts from killing themselves. It's a genuine struggle and in my little neck of the river I've lost too many people whom I've had face-to-face relationships with.

    But I'm not shy about warning them of the dangers. None of my addict acquaintances are offended by me seeming judgmental. It's objective fact--these things are killing them. I try to convince them not to buy into the "drug of choice" language, as if it were some harmless lifestyle choice. Instead, it is destructive poison, as evidenced by the impacts to their lives.
  13. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Yes, as a nurse and one who worked as a mental health counselor on a locked psych ward, I'd sometimes suggest, "have you tried NOT taking drugs or being promiscuous... the elimination of those behaviors would make your problems mostly go away..."
  14. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Good insight!
  15. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    Adding a little to Perg’s comments. Despite the hapless and vague terminology the OP’s poster is using to avoid judging the harmful behaviors, this is a way common grace works. It’s restraining not redeeming.
  16. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    If we can separate ourselves from the bad theology (e.g., don't tell them its sinful), this is how treating people as responsible works.

    Of course, I take a different tact with my seven year old. But I've taught in the inner city for the past 11 years. I've seen some great stories, but I've also seen people continue to make bad decisions. I can't make their decisions for them. That's ultimately what it comes down to.
  17. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    One of my concerns is that we fail to understand vulnerable kids. Apparently I upset our Head Teacher during an inservice on guidance issues. We were discussing underage sex and soft peddling the legal position. I explained that the Puritans had to introduce a hard and fast legal age to tackle underage prostitution particularly in ports.

    When children tell us it is sometimes in the hope (expectation) that we as responsible adults will intervene!

    This was the case with an underage girl in care who was forced into prostitution. I listened to her account of telling her social worker. Their responce was, "I respect your life choices". She was looking for help (legal age) and was effectively told she had made her bed and needed to lie on it!
  18. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    Found the post when I raised this before (2010)
  19. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    How sad. I cant think of a more passive aggressive response.
  20. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    "...this is a way common grace works. It’s restraining not redeeming."

    It is the common grace aspect that gives it any validity. I just feel that it can be harmful in unintended ways.
  21. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    " ...the "drug of choice" language." VictorBravo

    Interested to develop the vocabulary aspect. When you control the language, you control the narrative in many ways. (pro-life: baby, pro-choice: foetus)
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