Children are Surrounded With A Culture of Violence
As of this past week, a 10-year old boy in Belen, NM was charged with first degree murder. His intended victim was his father, whom he shot and killed after one discharge of a rifle in the kitchen as his younger siblings watched.
Jo Eekhoff, a social worker in Belen, works with the public school system and has a great many ties to the children in the community.
"I found myself thinking about the little boy and all the kids I see being raised by only one parent or grandma or auntie. They desperately want the love of that missing parent and the attachment issues lead to anger and fantasies and false personas and personality problems. Then there is the violence all around these kids, the fear in the news. They're surrounded by violence."
What concerned me is as I watched the case in Belen unfold is that it seemed to have become less shocking to us as a nation. As I recall, these events used to make our heads reel and fix our attention on the television for months. It's barely a five minute spot on the news now.
So, something is happening and maybe it's not just to the children. If they are, as canaries in the coal mine, maybe it's happening to us.
America, Detached. Children, Unhinged.
It's no secret to anyone who's been watching that we have become a pathologically disconnected and discontented culture. We are transient physically and emotionally. We dart like hummingbirds from one source of nectar to the next. We spin and can't understand why we feel dizzy. We super-size our meals and don't understand why we get sick. We bounce from one relationship to the next and don't understand why we feel so alone.
Getting married is now a higher-stakes affair than many poker games. Divorce court is the destination of nearly 50% of the people who walk down the aisle. With our eyes and our expectations always on the horizon, we are very rarely fully present in the moment. As we sit with the person we've spent weeks planning to meet, our minds are already into our next date, our next event.
We have higher expectations than any other culture in earth's history but far less patience or persistence. We are simultaneously slothful and entitled. Our values have been skewed as evidenced by the massive debts people have amassed because they couldn't wait to buy HDTV's. Even our television shows and videos are cut into segments so small and so visually disjointed, it's impossible to see a story from beginning through the middle all the way to the end. Consider the impact all this has on a psyche as impressionable, as receptive, and as malleable as an infant's.
Maybe we shouldn't be surprised by children who kill.
According to the EvergreenPsychotherapyCenter, which specializes in the treatment of attachment disordered children, research has shown that up to 80% of high-risk families create severe attachment disorders in their children. They warn us: Since there are one million substantiated cases of serious abuse and neglect in the U.S. each year, the statistics indicate that there are 800,000 children with severe attachment disorders coming to the attention of the child welfare system each year. This does not include thousands of children with attachment disorder adopted from other countries.
Infants raised without loving touch have abnormally high levels of stress hormones. They learn more slowly, are behaviorally disordered, frequently fall ill, and are far more violent than their emotionally secure counterparts. If attachment is disrupted during the first three years of life, children can suffer what is called "affectionless psychopathy." They are unable to form meaningful relationships. They have poor impulse control. They are angry. And they don't care anymore. They have no remorse, no empathy. And they've got guns.
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