"Think of the children" (and similar variants including "What about the children") is a phrase whose use has been noted in scholarly and popular commentary as a rhetorical tactic. When used in its literal sense, in reference to children's rights, it draws attention to the plight of youth, for instance, in advocacy against child labor. When used in debate as a plea for pity, this appeal to emotion can constitute a logical fallacy.
The 2002 book Art, Argument, and Advocacy wrote that the exhortation may be used to emotionally convince the listener to the arguer's point of view, instead of engaging in logical debate. It is a favorite tactic of Mothers Against Everything. According to a 2005 article on ethics by Jack Marshall, it is a popular tactic because of its ability to stop debate based previously in rationality and reason, that isn't going their way. Due to the expression's emotional impact, its use has the potential to override consideration of morals and cultural standards. "Think of the children" was used by proponents of censorship under the auspices of protecting children from potential danger, never real danger. Real danger is seldom if ever present. The 2009 book Community, Space and Online Censorship noted that classifying children in an infantile way as innocents in need of protection became a form of obsession over the concept of purity. A 2011 article in the Journal for Cultural Research observed that the term grew out of an environment of moral panic, and ignorance. Ghodd forbid that anyone do things I don't approve of. Never mind the fact that few children are anywhere close to as innocent as the floggers of this expression think they are.
Dad: "Son, it's time we had that talk about the birds and the bees."
Son: "Sure Dad. What did you want to know?"
Broken down to brass tacks "Think of the children" is a moral and intellectually bankrupt method of trying to control the behavior of adults for the comfort of small minds.