Social and Ethical Issues with Students with Mental Retardation

Education is an important factor in the growth of an individual. Through education, people are able to acquire knowledge and information relevant to their daily lives and tasks. The education process is an essential process in the life of every individual. There are programs and projects that reinforce the acquisition of formal education. Some of these programs are employed by the government to assist and help every citizen to acquire necessary education. Programs include scholarship grants and innovated curriculum that enable the students to cope with the continually changing social and technological environment.

If there are programs helping the students and promoting overall education, there are also certain factors that hinder the acquisition of education. There are some socio-political factors that are considered as barriers in the education process. Poverty or lack of financial resources is one of the restraints of attaining education for some people. Also, health status of a person also affects the individual’s learning process. There are certain disorders that affect the school performance of the individuals and there ailments that hinder the person in obtaining the quality of education that they need.

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Retardation is a mental condition wherein the patient’s brain development is inappropriate and doe not work according to his or her age. The development is in retrograde form and which does not allow the person to perform in the normal state that people their age should act. Because of this mental condition, people with this kind of disorder are often isolated and denied of social activity that people their age should enjoy. There are ethical and social issues focusing on mental retardation, especially in the field of their education.

These social and ethical issues become problems in their whole education life. Mental Retardation In order to understand the concept of mental retardation, we should be able to understand the meaning of intelligence. Intelligence refers to the ability of the person to think, learn and solve problems. Mental retardation implies having a lower than the average intellectual ability (Dowshen, 2008). The person suffering from mental retardation have trouble in learning things or it often take longer time for them to learn social skills which include communicating with others and making friends.

Mentally retarded people may not be able to take care of themselves or may not be able to live alone when they become adults (Dowshen, 2008). Mental retardation affects 1to 3 percent of the current total population (“Menatl Retardation”, 2008). Mental retardation is not an ailment or a disease but a condition resulting from injuries in the brain or when the brain is unable to develop properly and normally. Problems of mental retardation may occur when the baby is till inside the womb of the mother, during the baby’s delivery or after the baby is born (Dowshen, 2008).

The family members can detect the occurrence of mental retardation in their child if the motor skills, language and self-help skills of the child seem not to be developing or developing, but in the pace that is way beyond the child’s peers. Children that are mentally retarded cannot easily adapt on the environment or adjust on the new situations that are normal in the early child’s life. In the case of mild mental retardation, the symptoms will be evident during school age or in later years (“Mental Retardation”, 2008).

Ethical and Social Issues with Students with Mental Retardation There are ethical and social issues that are accompanying mental retardation. People with mental retardation are characterized by gradual learning acquisition. Researchers are not really particular on the intellectual ability of the mentally retarded individuals but they are more concerned on its impacts on the individuals’ ability to learn concepts, process information and apply knowledge in school and community (Garguilo, 2006).

One of the issues encountered by the individuals with mental retardation is in line with their academic performance. The low capability is manifested in almost all areas of learning. However, the ability to read appears to be the weakest area (Garguilo, 2006). Because of their incapability, they need special kind of education which will help them in acquiring necessary knowledge. Some children may be not successful on their academic endeavor, but they may excel in other fields such as sports and arts.

Another social issue faced by students with mental retardation is bullying and being teased. Children with mental retardation need support groups or friends to fill in their social needs. Special education can help to mold their learning and behavior (Dowshen, 2008). Another social issue encountered by mentally retarded persons is the absence or lack of necessary life skills in order to move and function independently. People with mental retardation should be able to live a normal life and function like everyone else.

However, for mentally retarded people, acceptance in the society is always questioned. Utilitarianism and Deontology Utilitarianism is the modern version of the conventional ethical theory, hedonism. In Utilitarianism, the end of the doings or acts of people should be always geared towards happiness. In order to distinguish right and wrong, we should assess what is causing us pain and pleasure. This theory was formulated by John Stuart Mill. The doctrine of the theory implies that acts rendering happiness is righteous (Fox, 1912).

Mill advocates that man inherently and always seeks for happiness. This logic is considered insufficient in judging the conduct of the people. The premise of the theory is that a person always seeks for his or her own happiness contributing on the total general happiness and provides the Utilitarian standard in determining if the conduct is right (Fox, 1912). Deontological ethics or deontology, on the other hand, is an ethical approach that is focused on the rightness and wrongness of the actions; and not if the consequences thereafter is right or wrong (Olson, 1967).

Deontology is described as the duty or the obligation ethical standards and many deontologists argue being bound to the duty of a person (Waller, 2005). Deontological ethics opposed the consequentialist or theological ethical approaches which determine the rightness and wrongness of an action based on their consequences (Flew, 1979). We must also consider the difference between deontology and moral absolutism. Deontologists are sometimes moral absolutist such as Immanuel Kant. These theorists firmly believe that some actions are considered as wrong whatever the consequences are.

Deontologists who are not moral absolutist such as W. D. Ross, who believed that some the righteousness of the actions depend on the consequences (Korsgaraard, 1995). In line with people with mental retardation, they are also humans given the right to be happy and they only seek for their own happiness despite their disability. It is only right that we help them in transforming that image into reality. Some mentally retarded patients do not have control on their brain activity and there are instances that they hurt themselves.

It is undeniable and inevitable that some of the family members of the mentally retarded persons are considering euthanasia. Euthanasia or mercy killing is seen as assisted suicide, thus ending the pain for the person. Based on the two theories aforementioned, euthanasia is a viable option in ending the suffering experienced by the mentally retarded individuals. Utilitarianism says that the rightness or wrongness of an action or of an individual is based if it renders pleasure or pain. It argues that man is always seeking for happiness, an action is considered right when it gives pleasure.

If the mentally retarded person is suffering too much pain, it is only righteous to end the suffering of the person. If the act of euthanasia renders happiness on the patient, it is therefore right to carry out euthanasia. Based on the premises of the deontological ethics or deontology, the rightness and wrongness of the action is important than the rightness or wrongness of the consequences or outcomes. If the mentally retarded person wants to carry out the act due to some logical and reasonable decision, it is only right to perform the act.

Personally, I disagree with the two theories and never really view the act of euthanasia as right. It is never righteous to end his life, even for a mentally retarded person, especially when the person is trying to live a normal life. If it is the wish of the patient, maybe it is right to resort in euthanasia if the patients and his family members were able to explore all the possible treatments. One fear of the family members with relatives that are mentally retarded is the great tendency of passing on the disease to other members of the family.

This particular scenario will heighten the depression within the family. In Utilitarianism, since man is always seeking for their happiness, they try to end the genealogy of the mental condition. We must accept that if a person is genetically born with mental retardation, it is part of the life cycle of humans. In my own opinion, if you want to end the continuance of the mental retardation in your family, you must take the necessary precautions to somehow try to avoid the reoccurrence of the mental condition.

Conclusion Retardation is a mental condition affecting the learning capability of the individual. The most prevalent and popular cause of mental retardation is genetics. There are issues that are encountered by people who mentally retarded. Some of the issues faced by the patients are sometimes judged through theories of utilitarianism and deontology. However, it is important to consider all other pertinent factors in knowing whether our decisions are viable and necessary.

References

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15241c.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/mental-retardation/overview.html