Ask Dr. Dobson

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 Question:  What has caused many members of the younger generation to be so violent?


Answer:   Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in research to answer that question. The findings are startling. In addition to the violence children have seen on television and in the movies, and apart from the drug wars they have witnessed, the tendency toward violence is a function of the neglect and abuse so many have experienced. That is especially true of those raised in the inner city. Many children born to drug-and alcohol dependent parents have been subjected to unimaginable deprivation. They were left in cribs for days with dirty diapers burning their buttocks and legs. Some were hit repeatedly, or they were scalded or starved. Others simply had no one to love and hold them when they were frightened. Many were sexually exploited from their earliest days—some even in infancy. If they survived, they grew up on the streets with no adult guidance and care.

What does it do to a child to experience intense pain, fear and deprivation at a very early age? Kids who go through these traumas in the first year or two of life produce high levels of stress hormones, notably cortisol and adrenaline. Those substances put the body in an "alarm reaction state" in order to cope with the crisis at hand. Human neurological apparatus is bombarded with chemicals that shouldn’t be there in a child that age. The result is impairment of the boy or girl’s thinking apparatus and emotional development.

Many of today’s abused kids can kill and destroy without pangs of conscience because they are literally brain damaged. They don’t feel what you and I feel. They can’t empathize with helpless victims the way they should, because the emotion of compassion flows from cognitive functions that no longer operate.

The bottom line is this: We are paying a terrible price for the disintegration of the family and for the victimization of children. Any society that doesn’t protect the most vulnerable in its midst can expect to suffer at the hands of those abused individuals when they get old enough to strike back.

Send your questions to Dr. Dobson, c/o Focus on the Family, PO Box 444, Colorado Springs, CO 80903. Dr. Dobson is the President of Focus on the Family, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the home. Copyright 1997 James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.