I want to mention the work of Dr. Elliott Barker, a Canadian psychiatrist. Dr. Barker worked with 300 of the most dangerous persons in Ontario. They were at a maximum-security prison, all criminally insane.
He is convinced that criminal behavior is due to the lack of good care during the first three years of life. He helped to form a group called the Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children because he believes that crime can be fought by promoting proper nurturing during the first three years of life.
Dr. Barker says that the greatest cruelty that you can do to human beings is to harm them so emotionally that they can never form an affectionate relationship with another human being, that they can never trust another person, and that they can never have capacity for empathy.
Dr. Barker had developed videos and teaching materials for the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades, a group he wanted to reach before they drop out of school. What did he teach them? That the most important job they will ever do as parents is to raise their children and that the times during pregnancy and the first three years of life are so important. This is when the life-foundation is set.
Dr. Barker had a simple four-point program for crime prevention:
1) That mother, father, and baby have a positive birth experience.
2) That the mother breastfeed and that she breastfeed as long as her baby wants it.
3) That the parents avoid separation from their baby because frequent changes in caregiving are bad for the baby.
4) That spacing between the births of babies is desirable.
Please note that I am not saying that even the best of mothering in the first three years will eliminate crime. How we wish it would, but we remember that breastfed Cain murdered his breastfed brother, Abel. However, society does need to listen to the psychiatrists who find themselves examining the first three years for the clues on how to raise normal children and to avoid raising future psychopaths.
Next week: Breastfeeding and Natural Attachment
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor, 2008
Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, 2008, classic 1974 edition
Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood, 2005