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					           Children, Parenting and Education:
           Addressing the Causes of Offending

                                                Dr Cindy Kiro

                                     Children’s Commissioner




Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                                               Introduction
          •         Origins of Offending

          •         The Evidence
                     – Longitudinal Studies
                     – Neuroscience

          •         Early intervention

          •         Implications for Parenting and Parent Education


Photographs sourced and used with
permission from:
- Taonga Education Centre
- Kawerau South School
- Young People’s Reference Group




   Institute of Policy Studies Forum
   Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
   26–28 February 2009
                Characteristics of children and
                  young people who offend

       • Longitudinal studies identify a small but distinct group who
         are in serious difficulty by adolescence:

            “From kohanga or kindy on he has defied adults, lied,
            stolen maybe set fires, hit other children, is cruel to
            animals, verbally abuses all who frustrate him, bullies,
            intimidates peers, siblings and as we heard recently
            teachers and other adults as well.” (Professor John Werry)




Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                                              Red Flags
       • History of serious antisocial acts
       • Regular use of substances
       • Hyperactivity and impulsivity
       • History of aggression
       • Being male
            (Kaye McLaren, 2007)




Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                             Risk Factors – Family
                                                       •   Socioeconomic adversity
                                                       •   Parental change and conflict
                                                       •   Lack of supervision
                                                       •   Lack of warmth and affection
                                                       •   Harsh discipline and abuse
                                                       •   Parental characteristics:
                                                            – criminal/antisocial behaviour
                                                            – substance abuse
                                                            – young mother
                                                            – unemployment


Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                          Risk Factors – Individual
                                                   • Poor vocabulary and
                                                     communication

                                                   • Lower than average IQ

                                                   • Poor literacy skills

                                                   • High level of novelty and thrill
                                                     seeking
                   www.dalhartpolice.com




Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                               Risk Factors - Social

       • Peer rejection

       • Deviant peers

       • Community norms and levels of
         crime


                                                                       Photograph used with permission
                                                                       Kawerau South School




Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                    Risk Factors form Social Maps
                                                        • Cover multiple domains

                                                        • Children’s social maps

                                                        • Cultural blueprints of what is normal,
                                                          what is obvious, and what is
                                                          impossible

                                                        • When children are labelled as
                                                          offenders or severe conduct disorder
                                                          they become the problem
 Photograph used with permission Kawerau South School




Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                                          Neuroscience

      • Only the brainstem is fully developed at birth
      • Rapid growth over first three years
      • Sequential and use-dependent
      • Different areas are developing at different times
      • Disruptions of experience-dependent
        neurochemical signals may lead to major
        abnormalities or deficits in neurodevelopment
      • Environment is crucial and primary caregiver is is
        the major provider of environmental cues



Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
          Attachment and Brain Development

      •    The quality of the attachment relationship has
           been linked to different aspects of brain
           development:
            – Attaining complexity through differentiation of
              specific components and integration into a
              functioning whole
            – Emotional self-regulation
            – Reflective capacity

                                                                       Photograph Used With Permission
                                                                       Taonga Education Centre




Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                      Internal Working Models of
                              Attachment
       •    Attachment relationships provide the context for the
            development of internal working models

       •    These shape views of self, others and the world

       •    They incorporate:
             – Capacity for self-regulation
             – Ability to reflect on internal states of self and others
             – Mental representations of self and others
             – Strategies for managing relationship experiences
                                                                          Titiro Whakatau Ano’ - Thomas Lauterbach




Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                                     Impact of Trauma
       •    Brain adapts to a state of fear-related elevation
            leading to adaptations in emotional, behavioural
            and cognitive functioning in order to survive
       •    Persistent trauma leads to:
             – Hypervigilance
             – Anxiety
             – Elevated heart rate
             – Elevated levels of stress related hormones
                                                                       Inspirationoflyric.wordpress.com
             – impulsivity




Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                           Patterns of Attachment
       • Four patterns:
          – Secure
          – Insecure ambivalent
          – Insecure avoidant
          – Disorganised
       • Secure provides the context for optimal development           Photo used with permission
                                                                       Kawerau South School



       • Ambivalent and avoidant represent infant’s capacity to adapt to
         less than optimal environments
       • Disorganised develops in the context of neglect and/or abuse



Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
              Impact of Internal Working Models

       • Continue to influence us throughout life

       • Evidence of inter-generational transmission

       • Link between unresolved attachment issues and
         patterns of abuse of children

       • Strong association between disorganised attachment
         and behavioural difficulties in childhood and later life




Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                     Children with Disorganised
                            Attachment
       • Unlikely to trust adults

       • Inability to internalise rules that govern daily existence means
         that behaviour is determined by reaction to external cues

       • Lack of trust in adults means they have no incentive to comply
         with requests or instructions

       • May resent and resist any attempts by adults to control them




Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                        Disorganised Attachment
       •    May be labelled ADHD
       •    Short attention span, high levels of activity and limited social skills
            present major obstacles to learning
       •    When this is the result of abuse, behaviour results from hyper-arousal
            and this must be lowered before children are accessible to intervention
       •    Decreased arousal is unlikely to occur until child has developed a
            sense of security
       •    Without effective early intervention these children are frequently in
            serious difficulty by adolescence
             – Increased rates of psychopathology and violent crime




Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                                Link with Resilience
       • Not all children ‘at risk’ fare badly
       • Four crucial factors:
              –   Individual attributes
              –   Family support
              –   Community support, person or agency
              –   Cultural connection

       • The most resilient children have access to all
         four but any one can make a difference
       • Resilience is not an isolated individual
         characteristic
       • Secure and consistent attachment facilitates                  Photo used with permission Kawerau South School


         resilience across all four domains


Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                     Patterns of Attachment and
                             Resilience
       • Secure at an advantage - positive expectations of self and
         others, access to supportive adults and connections beyond
         family
       • Avoidant and ambivalent may lack self-confidence, have low
         self-esteem and difficulty negotiating relationships, but do have
         coping strategies
       • Disorganised, have no coping strategy and are the most
         vulnerable




Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                                 Potential for change

       • Attachment patterns become entrenched when the internal
         working models formed in the early years are reinforced by
         children’s experiences in the world beyond home
       • Children with insecure and disorganised patterns are likely to
         encounter rejection and censure from peers, teachers and other
         adults
       • Negative outcomes are not inevitable – good evidence that
         change is possible
       • Change must be facilitated through relationships – early and
         effective intervention is the key



Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                                      Early Child Development


            Education                    Health                Social Capital   Equality



                                              Economic Growth



                                           Human Development

    From Early Child Development to Human Development:
    Investing in our Children’s Future
    The World Bank 2002, pg 74



Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                               Source: Pedro Carneiro and James Heckman (2003)
                               Herald graphic 23.05.03


Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                         Implications for Parenting
       • Children begin their lives entirely dependent
         on adults for survival
       •    Behaviour of those who care for them contributes to
            far more than their physical survival

       •    Quality of children’s relationships provides the
            framework for the exponential development that
            occurs in the early years

       •    Important to consider the role of parent education




Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                             Universal Parent Education
                                             •    Parental awareness of the significance of the early years
                                                  and benefits for children from responsive, consistent and
                                                  stable care
                                             •    Information about brain development and foundational
                                                  nature of early experience has significant implications for
                                                  parental decision-making about childcare and
                                                  employment
                                             •    Given that parenting is not generally regarded as
                                                  productive in the same way as employment such
                                                  information may be validating for parents, encouraging
                                                  investment in their children
                                             •    Universal services such as Plunket most likely to be
                                                  accessed by motivated parents and need to be
       Photograph Used With Permission
       Taonga Education Centre                    supplemented by outreach to marginalised families



Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                               Challenging Behaviour
                                                •    When children behave in challenging ways
                                                     their behaviour becomes the focus of
                                                     attention
                                                •    Emphasis is often on management and
                                                     control with less attention to the causes of
                                                     such behaviour
                                                •    Children’s behaviour is a form of
                                                     communication
                                                •    Sometimes adults forget to look beyond the
                                                     presentation and inquire about what is being
                                                     communicated
         Photograph Used With Permission
             Taonga Education Centre
                                                •    Early intervention can be facilitated through
                                                     provision of family support centres or service
                                                     hubs


Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                               Intensive Intervention

       • More focused programmes are needed for those families in
         greatest difficulty
       • Children at risk of negative outcomes fall between the gaps
       • Access to specialist services depends on how behaviour is
         labelled and perceptions may differ
       • Too often opportunities for early intervention are overlooked
       • Home visiting services such as Family Start have much to offer
       • More intensive services with capacity to provide in-home
         support and education are also needed


Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009
                                                    Conclusion
       • Parent education is not a magic bullet
       • An integrated approach is needed to improve the social
         and economic circumstances of children and families
       • Close working relationship between criminal and social
         policy and early intervention is needed
       • Failure to achieve this increases the risk that the criminal
         justice system ends up punishing those who are
         themselves the victims of social and economic
         circumstances



               Photographs Used With Permission   Photograph used with permission   Young People’s Reference Group
                   Taonga Education Centre        Kawerau South School




Institute of Policy Studies Forum
Addressing the Underlying Causes of Offending: What is the Evidence?
26–28 February 2009

				
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