By Douglas Noll
Violence against children is the primary cause of violence in our society? Read this story Girl-abused-malnourished-name-idiot and realize that murderers are not born, they are bred. This little girl had no protection and no chance. In all likelihood, she is doomed to repeat the tragedy of her mother. We can stop this with collective will.
First, stop all child and teen pregnancies by any means necessary. I’m sorry, if you are a social conservative you will have to choose between persistent and continued violence or controlling pregnancies. It’s a hard choice. Make it. Abstinence faces a losing battle against biology and the deep need to connect.
Second, spend money on effective child protective services and intervene aggressively and early. Again, if you are a social conservative and want government out of your life make a choice: Allow for aggressive governmental intervention when parents screw up badly. Otherwise, tolerate violence in your community and shut up.
Three, put a legal priority on protecting children over parental rights. If you can’t be a good parent, you shouldn’t be one. Give judges broad discretion, with a strong policy favoring children. Parenting may be a basic human right, but it carries with it enormous responsibilities. If parents cannot handle the responsibilities, they lose their rights. Period. Be draconian, if necessary. This is a crummy policy and violates my own sense of human rights, but I have come to realize it is essential if we want to stop programming children to be violent. I’m sorry. If you are a social liberal get over it. You can choose between protecting children and terminating parental rights or suffering continued violence in your community. Your choice. Make it.
Finally, create incentives for caring, loving foster care. Whatever it takes, it is less expensive than prison.
The science that shows how violence against children leads to violent adulthood is persuasive and irrefutable. The first 33 months of life, from the zygote to the end of 24 months determine whether you will be peaceful or violent. Violence against children takes many forms, some hidden and insidious. Stress, depression, violence, exposure to violence, lack of emotional caring and nurturing, drug and alcohol use (doesn’t have to be addiction), lack of consistent emotional care, and absent parents all are terrible on the young, developing brain. Think about this fact: In the second trimester of development, the fetus is growing brain cells (neurons) at the astounding rate of 250,000 cells per second. Introduce anything toxic and bad things happen. The root cause of violence is found in how children are abused in those first 33 months. The story above is Exhibit 1 in my case for ending violence against children. Want peace? Protect children. End of story.