We would argue that we should fix ’em, especially our youth.
Children as young as 6 can show criminological tendencies, but they have virtually no choice in their immediate environment. Just as problematic is that those factors that can ‘protect’ them have not yet developed.
We know, for example, that the ‘family’ domain is among the most important for the proper development of children. If a child is born into a family with abusive or neglectful parents, s/he is starting life without the emotion strength to handle the everyday rigors of childhood traumas. If the parents are antisocial themselves it puts the child in increased danger, and yet they have no choice of their parents, their socioeconomic status, their antisocial attitudes or anything else about how they are raised. Parenting takes skill, and yet this most important responsibility is often left to chance. No one would really argue that a single, teenage mother is not the best environment for a child, yet that is the reality for too many of our nation’s children.
As a child grows their environment widens. They play with the kids in their neighborhood and also begin attending school. At this point the way they were raised in their home begins to be affected by peers and school influences. The best thing that can happen to the child raised in the home previously described is that they find supportive friends and love school. In such a case these would become protective factors from the negatives found in the home. Often though, the negative home environment causes the child to go to school with an attitude, a bad attitude. When this happens school is also a negative experience and the child only forms friendships with other disillusioned children…and the number of criminological factors begin to grow.
It is our belief that the first 4 years of school (K-3) are the most important for a child’s future development. If risk factors such as hyperactivity, aggression, antisocial behaviors and beliefs, dishonesty and others can be identified when the child is young there is an increased chance these behaviors can be modified. Of note, it may only be when a child goes to school that their parents’ lack of parenting skills becomes evident. If true changes are to be made with the child we must work closely with the parent(s) to provide them the education and support required so real changes can be made.
There are many successful programs already in existence that have proven themselves able to change the lives of both parents and children for the better. Some start before children even start school, others later. What they all have in common is that they help the parents, not just the children. Here is a link to some of those successful programs: http://www.washington.edu/news/2013/12/16/5-effective-parenting-programs-to-reduce-problem-behaviors-in-children/
These programs are not as wide-spread as they might otherwise be because they are cost money. This is why many of our citizens don’t support them, they don’t want to pay the cost. In our view this is short-sighted because we will absolutely pay the cost, either now or later. The problem is that later costs even more, both in money and ruined lives…and what does it say about us? You’re at the fork in the road, which path should we take?