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How to Prevent Violent Behavior in the Next Generation...

The tip below is based upon an article on the prevention of criminal and violent behavior in the next generation.  Please view entire resource for the full story. 

"Becoming a biological parent, parentage, is a matter of a few minutes; becoming a responsible parent, parenthood, is something else again, a matter of adequate preparation.... Every birth should be regarded as a contribution to society as well as to the family and to the child that has been born. A gift to be treated with gratitude and reverence, so that every child may be from birth assured of the optimum conditions for development and fulfillment. Anything short of this is to disinherit the newborn of his birthright and to deprive his society of a cooperating and contributing member."2
Ashley Montagu ...

The real culprit

Mistreatment of children beginning at infancy, perpetrated by parents and other primary caretakers, is what infects children with the virus of violence. In much the same way that it interferes with the bonding process between child and parent, it stunts the child's ability to become socially integrated with the larger law-abiding community. It handicaps the child with a lifetime supply of anger. It makes every future irritation seem a mortal attack; every delay of gratification, a personal insult. It models for the child no essential problem-solving skills, but instead: selfishness, aggression, rage, tyranny. It makes escape by means of drugs and alcohol appealing options, irresistible to many. The worse and the earlier the mistreatment, the more severe the outcome.

Researchers Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck have found that the first indicators of delinquency are usually recognizable in children between the ages of 3 and 6, and almost always before 11.5 Yet programs and services that purport to address the delinquency problem almost invariably are aimed at adolescents and young adults. Obviously such programs are of no value to the babies still at home, being abused and neglected, for whom intervention now would make all the difference later. As for parents whose children have been removed by the courts for their safety, and who are required to take parenting classes as a condition for being reunited with their children, such intervention comes only after the damage has been done. In many cases, that's too late to significantly benefit either child or parent.

Precisely because their most urgent needs are not met, abused infants grow into adults who remain fixated on their own feelings of frustration. Such people have difficulty recognizing anyone's needs other than their own. When they become parents, they are unable to cope with the demands placed on them by an infant. They remain at a stage of arrested development, all the while searching for relief from the chronic anger that derives from events impossible for them to remember - anger that smolders beneath the surface and erupts all too easily when a defenseless target comes within arm's reach.

Being deprived babies themselves, and feeling rudely displaced by their own offspring, they are spontaneously hostile to them. They spank as naturally as they were spanked. They bully their growing children as they were bullied. They produce damaged children who in turn become inept parents who produce more damaged children.

When such a pattern is the norm in society, the courts stay busy and the prisons stay filled.

Condoning violence against children

Our laws and cultural values are unambiguous concerning adults who physically attack or threaten other adults. Such behavior is recognized as criminal and we hold the perpetrators accountable. Why then, when so much is at stake for society, do we accept the excuses of child batterers? Why do we become interested in the needs of children only after they have been terribly victimized, or have become delinquents victimizing others?

The answer is not complicated. Until we can honestly acknowledge the mistreatment we've experienced in our own childhood and examine the shortcomings of our own parents, we will be incapable of feeling sympathy for any child abused as we were. To the extent we feel compelled to defend our parents and guard their secrets, we will do the same for others. We will look the other way. By insisting that we "turned out OK" we are really trying to reassure ourselves and to divert our own attention from deeply unpleasant memories.

That's why, when someone says, "spanking is abuse," many of us react as though a door that has been locked since infancy is about to be flung open, a door that has prevented us from committing the most dangerous, most unpardonable act of disloyalty imaginable: disloyalty to the parent. We fear that by unlocking that door we might fall through into an abyss, abandoned, cut off from any possibility of reconciliation with the parents we love.

That fear is irrational. Dishonesty about what was done to our generation and what we are doing, and allowing to be done, to the next generation, is the real danger and the real sin.

Reconciliation and healing can only begin with an acknowledgment of the truth, for it is futile to hope that lies, evasions and excuses can somehow erase the memory and the pain of past injuries.

This is well written but I do believe that there are many pieces missing from this formula. You would be surprised at how many of the children that have gone on shooting sprees had loving parents, were never spanked and were actually given more oppurtunities then most. Though I do agree that a child that was abused or neglected has a higher chance of creating a crime, I do know of many adults that do not come from that background that have chosen or have been forced into a criminal life style just the same. The article is a great read in the sense that it makes you really think about what is affecting our children and our lives and what we most do to proctect them.
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