Think of the children  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The phrase "for the children", or "think of the children," is an often-used rhetorical phrase and appeal to emotion. Because people generally value the welfare of the next generation of a society, it has been perceived as an argument to cast a position in a starkly positive or negative light, depending on whether the policy is perceived as beneficial or harmful to children. Traditionally the argument was seen in debates over matters such as education, culture, and crime, as children are impressionable and youth crime is thought to be particularly harmful, but more recently the rhetoric has been applied to many varied political agendas, sometimes with little or no relevance. The use of such arguments has been criticized as an appeal to emotion that can be used to support an irrelevant conclusion, however, and in some cases it may be classified as a "Thought-terminating cliché".

The prevalence of "for the children" rhetoric has increased in recent years. Author Elvin T. Lim noted in 2008 “Well over half of all references to children in State of the Union addresses since 1790 were uttered by our last five presidents."

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