In his New York Times article, "The Moral Life of Babies," Paul Bloom reviews research demonstrating that even infants can distinguish right from wrong. Here is one example:
"Not long ago, a team of researchers watched a 1-year-old boy take justice into his own hands. The boy had just seen a puppet show in which one puppet played with a ball while interacting with two other puppets. The center puppet would slide the ball to the puppet on the right, who would pass it back. And the center puppet would slide the ball to the puppet on the left... who would run away with it. Then the two puppets on the ends were brought down from the stage and set before the toddler. Each was placed next to a pile of treats. At this point, the toddler was asked to take a treat away from one puppet. Like most children in this situation, the boy took it from the pile of the "naughty" one. But this punishment wasn’t enough - he then leaned over and smacked the puppet in the head."
Contributed by Kirsten Haugen
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So what does this teach us, as observers, researchers, and early childhood professionals--that this child just used violence to convey his dissatisfaction with the puppet's behavior? Is this what he sees at home? Is this how he always solves problems? Yes, he's only a year old. Yes, he's exploring his place in this world. Yes, this may be how he communicates right now. However, the article just ends here and doesn't go one to explain how the child's reaction was handled. Sure, it was only a puppet--this time....