A Somali Community Dominated by Fear and Frustration


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The dilemma is about Somali parents living in Minnesota who areafraid that vaccination against measles, rubella and mumps causesautism in their children. In a forum held to discuss their fearsabout autism, most parents admitted that they had not taken theirchildren for vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella.According to the Somali parent, they would rather risk their childrengetting infected by Measles, Rubella and Mumps rather than see themsuffer from mental problems. Public health officials and doctors`frustration are caused by the fact that there is no scientificevidence to prove these allegations are right. Their fears are thatif the Somali’s parents continue denying the vaccination, themeasles outbreak among the Somali children might grow (Susan, 2011). This study paper identifies the similarity between legal and moralobligation in accordance to nodding views.

People feel morally obligated when they recognize that theirresponsibility towards those they love will improve or weaken moralidea, thus, increasing genuine care likelihood or decreasing it”(Nodding, 1984). In every society, legal rules are used to governpeople formally while ethical norms govern people informally.Critically using this to analyze the behavior of the Somali parentsin Minnesota, we can say that the common sense of Somali parentstells them that the moral right thing for them to do is refuse thevaccination. Legally, this is wrong since the “law” requires thatchildren be vaccinated against these diseases. The difference betweenmoral and legal concepts here is that the ethical concept requiresone to use common sense while the legal concept requires one toadhere to the set laws. The Somali parents are breaking the Minnesotalaws which state that every child who is more than ten months oldshould be vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella. Similaritybetween a moral and legal concepts is that both bind a personregardless of whether he or she agrees with them or not.Additionally, both concepts are supported by stern social pressure(Bayles, 1992). We can say that social pressure made it seem morallyright for a parent to deny vaccination to their children.

The Nodding quote that I will discuss to show similarity betweenlegally and moral concept is the one that says that people withstrong moral would not reject the urge to do what they feel ismorally right. The desire for them to be moral is reflective,derived, from the natural and fundamental desire to remain related.What this means is that it’s normal for people to feel for theirsuffering friends and wants to help them in their problems. Using ourcase study dilemma of the Somali parents we find that even though thepublic health officers and doctors may have their children vaccinatedagainst the diseases they still feel morally obligated to help theSomali children. In developing an application to describe what legalidea suggests about the dilemma, I can say that according to theMinnesota laws it is illegal for children to join to be allowed toget enrolled in a primary school or child care facility withoutsubmitting a statement to show that they are vaccinated againstrubella, measles, mumps and tetanus. I believe the reason this lawwas set was to protect the vaccinated children. Meaning that theunvaccinated Somali children pose a threat to the other children atschool or baby care center.

In discussing the difference the issue of what is morally and legallyright needs careful thoughts this is because on most occasions thesetwo concepts tend to collide causing confusion on what one should do.To be on the safe side, most people tend to take decisions that areethically and legally right (Cane, 2002). In our case, the dilemmawas the Somali parent being misinformed about the cause of autism intheir children. The parent for lack of knowledge blames the conditionon vaccination conducted on their children to protect them againstmeasles, rubella and mumps thus, refusing their children to bevaccinated against these diseases. Applying the legal concept, we seethat by doing so the parents are not only risking the lives of theirchildren, but also breaking the set laws. To show care, most peopletend to respond to an impulse of what they feel they ought to do.However, there are those who might reject the urge by transferring itto others thus saying that something must be done and by doing soremoving themselves as agents responsible for accomplishing theaction. Nevertheless, when it comes to the people, we love the mostintimate situation are often natural. What this means is humanly toreact towards those they love without observing the moral obligations(Shafer-Landau, 2012). Taking the example of the Somali mothersrefusing to have they children vaccinated we all know the dangersthat might come with this, but the common sense in the parent tellsthem that this is safer for their children.

To sum up, caring in most cases comes naturally without having to putany ethical effort. Morally, people tend to feel that they have anobligation to do what is right. Doing what is morally right necessarydoes not mean that it has to be legally right this explains thereason why the Somali parents do not feel that they are wrong to denytheir children the right for vaccination regardless of the fact thatthis is legally wrong. The paper focused on the similarities anddifferences between Nodding moral views and legal concept. While asthe legal concept requires the parent to take their childrenvaccination the moral concept does not demand this rather it requiresthe parent to act in the best interest of their children.


Bayles, M. D. (1992). Hart`s legal philosophy: An examination.Dordrecht u.a: Kluwer.

Cane, P. (2002). Responsibility in law and morality. Oxford:Hart Publishing.

Nodding’s, N. (1984). Caring: A feminine approach to ethics &ampmoral education.

Shafer-Landau, R. (2012). Ethical Theory: An Anthology.Hoboken: John Wiley &amp amp Sons.

Susan Perry. (2011). Fear and Frustration Dominated Somali CommunityForum on Measles, Vaccines and Autism. Retrieved from:http://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2011/03/fear-and-frustration-dominated-somali-community-forum-measles-vaccines-and-au