________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 16 . . . .April 14, 2006


Just Because Itís Not Wrong Doesnít Make It Right: From Toddlers to Teens, Teaching Kids to Act Ethically.

Barbara Coloroso.
Toronto, ON: Viking Canada, 2005.
249 pp., cloth, $35.00.
ISBN 0-670-04439-3.

Subject Headings:
Moral education.
Child rearing-Moral and ethical aspects.


Review by Jeannette Timmerman.

**** /4



If we are to raise kids who can think and act ethically, we don't begin with the thinking or the acting. We begin with the caring. — Barbara Coloroso.


Barbara Coloroso is well-known in the fields of parenting, teaching, and discipline. Her previous books, Kids are Worth it, Parenting Through Crisis and The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander, are down-to-earth, practical books that parents and educators can refer to time and again. Her latest book, Just Because Itís Not Wrong Doesnít Make It Right goes to the heart of the need to raise children who are compassionate and caring and ethical in their thinking and actions.

     The depth of the information in the book cannot be absorbed in a quick read. Rather, this is a book to read, ponder, reread, and return to once the process of deep caring is put into action. Her work is founded on the idea that all are born with an innate capacity to care.

     There is no wave of the wand that will magically produce ethical children. However, once children know that they are in a caring relationship, they, in turn, "can begin caring deeply, sharing generously, and helping willingly." The process maintains the dignity of each person.

     Coloroso clearly sets out definitions of compassion and loving-kindness and then turns to sympathy and empathy, which she sees as the "driving forces" behind the first two. She says that knowing values, principles and laws does not necessarily translate into ethical behaviour. Coloroso sees the mind and the heart working together. Caring and critical thinking are partners. Coloroso sets out the "Big I and the three Cs" in the chapter "Being Good, Doing Good." These determine the ethical nature of the act: Intent, Content, Circumstances and Consequences. In later chapters, she explains how the three negatives, hoarding, harming, and hating, can destroy relationships.

     Situations in the home, school, community and the world at large are used to illustrate how to guide children's growth as ethical people. The chapter on the media is especially relevant for today's parents and teachers.

     Coloroso concludes:

I know there are no quick fixes or easy answers. Nor is it possible to pour into our children all we have learned. Their learning must come from the inside out. They need opportunities to care and to share and to do. They need to be accountable for what they do or fail to do. They also need opportunities to reflect on moral issues, work through ethical dilemmas, and determine for themselves what kind of people they would like to become.

     This book is essential for anyone involved with children from toddlers to teenagers.

Highly Recommended.

Jeannette Timmerman, a former school principal, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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