As the opioid epidemic continues to rage on, videos and pictures of the realities of addiction are surfacing each week and igniting conversations about the correct way to expose people to the horrors of drug use. One video made headlines earlier this month because it showed a young boy receiving the news that his mother had died of a drug overdose.

Medical ethicist Art Caplan joined BPR to talk about this video, which the father posted on Facebook so he could convince other addicts to spare their children from traumatic experiences related to drug abuse. Caplan said taping and posting the conversation, despite getting the child’s permission to upload the video, was a mistake.

“I think it’s wrong because...you’re exploiting the eight-year-old who is in no position to say ‘That’s ok with me,” said Caplan.

He explained that even though the father’s intentions were to awaken drug addicts to the collateral damage caused by substance abuse, there are better tactics to motivate addicts to get clean.

“There are plenty of ways to get messages across about the horrors of opioid abuse and about the unbelievable damage that this is doing to our society,” he said. “I wouldn't leave it up to a parent who has lost a spouse and is grieving, who may have their own drug issues, and an eight-year-old kid that they want to use....almost as a prop...”

Caplan made the point that having the child talk to a counselor and later asking him to talk on camera about the way he feels would be a safer way of getting the message across. He said the raw reaction footage did the child a disservice.

“That’s not showing enough respect for the kid and the message,” said Caplan.

He also warned that the video will never really disappear on the internet:

“Once you put that up there, it’s going to live forever.”

Art Caplan is the director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center. You can listen to his interview in its entirety using the audio link above.