(Picture credit- Louis Moses / zefa / Corbis)
Here in the United States it is common for male children to be circumcised at birth. Circumcision is a surgical procedure in which the foreskin, a hood of skin which covers the glans of the penis, is removed.
(Pictures credit- KidsHealth)
There are a variety of reasons parents choose to have their baby boys circumcised rather than leaving them intact. For some, it is a religious mandate. Others believe that the little bit of extra skin on an intact penis makes it more difficult to clean and therefore more susceptible to infection. And some choose to circumcise their children because other men in the family are circumcised and they don’t want to deal with pesky questions from the child later on about why he doesn’t look like Daddy.
In my opinion, the first reason is unacceptable. If a child is of an age where he can make decisions for himself about his body and his spiritual beliefs and he decides to become part of a religion where circumcision is required, that’s fine. But pushing your religion on your child in such a painful, physical way is a horrible thing to do. I have respect for all religions, but I do not have respect for people who treat their children like possessions instead of human beings and that’s exactly what is happening when a parent decides to cut their baby for religious purposes. Not to mention the fact that circumcision is not even universal among one of the religious groups most associated with the practice- Jews. According to one website called the Jewish Circumcision Resource Center, "One is Jewish based on parental or conversion status, not whether one is circumcised."
The second reason, the one related to health issues, is just plain misinformed. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics "…there is little evidence to affirm the association between circumcision status and optimal penile hygiene." and "The uncircumcised penis is easy to keep clean. No special care is required!" The AAP also points out that "The foreskin shields the glans; with circumcision this protection is lost. In such cases, the glans and especially the urinary opening (meatus) may become irritated or infected, causing ulcers, meatitis (inflammation of the meatus), and meatal stenosis (a narrowing of the urinary opening). Such problems virtually never occur in uncircumcised penises." So, there are no definitive risks to leaving a baby intact, but there are definitely risks to circumcising him. Also, because the foreskin is originally fused to the glans and only later separates and becomes retractable, it is no more or less difficult to clean. Cleaning an infant’s penis is as simple as running a washcloth over it like you would over the rest of it’s body, no flaps of skin to pull back or clean under.
And that third reason about wanting the child to look like the other men in the family, as far as I’m concerned that’s just lazy parenting. It’s also a little creepy. Catching a glimpse of Dad or Uncle Bill in the shower or at the pool is one thing, but if the kid has a chance to study a family member’s penis to the point that they’re asking questions about why his doesn’t look the same? Something about that seems wrong. And even if the kid is exceptionally observant and it only takes a quick glimpse for him to tell there’s a difference, why is it so difficult to just answer his questions?
Those are some of the arguments against circumcision, another good reason is the pain. People tend to think that because it’s done to an infant it doesn’t hurt as much, or if it does they won’t remember it so it’s ok. The truth is, it hurts them a lot. On the website of the Circumcision Resource Center it says, "According to a comprehensive study, newborn responses to pain are "similar to but greater than those observed in adult subjects." Circumcision is extremely painful and traumatic. Some infants do not cry because they go into traumatic shock from the overwhelming pain of the surgery. No experimental anesthetic has been found to be safe and effective in preventing circumcision pain in infants." If you’d like to see pictures illustrating the pain an infant goes through when this procedure is done, you can go here and here.
So please, give some deep thought and consideration and definitely do some research before you decide to do this to your baby.