Tag Archives: Social Studies

Study: fathers are important for the development of children’s brains

Fathers and children
Fathers and children

The study was reported in the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Dr. Braun’s group found that at 21 days, the fatherless animals had less dense dendritic spines compared to animals raised by both parents, though they “caught up” by day 90. However, the length of some types of dendrites was significantly shorter in some parts of the brain, even in adulthood, in fatherless animals.

“It just shows that parents are leaving footprints on the brain of their kids,” says Dr. Braun, 54 years old.

The neuronal differences were observed in a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is related to emotional responses and fear, and the orbitofrontal cortex, or OFC, the brain’s decision-making center.

[…]The balance between these two brain parts is critical to normal emotional and cognitive functioning, according to Dr. Braun. If the OFC isn’t active, the amygdala “goes crazy, like a horse without a rider,” she says. In the case of the fatherless pups, there were fewer dendritic spines in the OFC, while the dendrite trees in the amygdala grew more and longer branches.

A preliminary analysis of the degus’ behavior showed that fatherless animals seemed to have a lack of impulse control, Dr. Braun says. And, when they played with siblings, they engaged in more play-fighting or aggressive behavior.

In a separate study in Dr. Braun’s lab conducted by post-doctoral researcher Joerg Bock, degu pups were removed from their caregivers for one hour a day. Just this small amount of stress leads the pups to exhibit more hyperactive behaviors and less focused attention, compared to those who aren’t separated, Dr. Braun says. They also exhibit changes in their brain.

The basic wiring between the brain regions in the degus is the same as in humans, and the nerve cells are identical in their function. “So on that level we can assume that what happens in the animal’s brain when it’s raised in an impoverished environment … should be very similar to what happens in our children’s brain,” Dr. Braun says.

Read the whole thing.

I think this is important because we hear so much today that marriage can be redefined, that having one of each parent doesn’t matter, that live-in boyfriends and stepfathers have the same motivation to care for a woman’s children as the biological father does. We don’t want to make judgments, even if setting boundaries is better for children. A child’s well-being is enormously affected by the woman’s choice of biological father.  You can’t have it both ways – either we are going to judge women who choose men who don’t have the desire to commit to marriage, and do the father role, OR we are going to take things away from children by encouraging women to choose men based on “feelings” instead of abilities. Lowering moral standards and removing moral obligations hurts children. It sounds so nice when we tell women, “you can do whatever you feel like, and just forget about responsibilities, expectations and obligations”, but letting women be guided by their feelings harms children. My stock broker makes me feel uncomfortable because he knows more than I do, and does not respect my opinion. But I pay him to make investment decisions for me. I mustn’t let my pride get in the way of letting him do his job – a job he is more qualified than I am to do. Let him do his job.

Here’s a related question: Are biological fathers or unrelated men more dangerous for children?

This article from the Weekly Standard answers the question.

Excerpt:

A March 1996 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics contains some interesting findings that indicate just how widespread the problem may be. In a nationally representative survey of state prisoners jailed for assaults against or murders of children, fully one-half of respondents reported the victim was a friend, acquaintance, or relative other than offspring. (All but 3 percent of those who committed violent crimes against children were men.) A close relationship between victim and victimizer is also suggested by the fact that three-quarters of all the crimes occurred in either the perpetrator’s home or the victim’s.

A 1994 paper published in the Journal of Comparative Family Studies looked at 32,000 documented cases of child abuse. Of the victims, only 28 percent lived with both biological parents (far fewer than the 68 percent of all children who live with both parents); 44 percent lived with their mother only (as do 25 percent of all children); and 18 percent lived with their mother and an unrelated adult (double the 9 percent of all children who live with their mother and an unrelated adult).

These findings mirror a 1993 British study by the Family Education Trust, which meticulously explored the relationship between family structure and child abuse. Using data on documented cases of abuse in Britain between 1982 and 1988, the report found a high correlation between child abuse and the marital status of the parents.

Specifically, the British study found that the incidence of abuse was an astounding 33 times higher in homes where the mother was cohabiting with an unrelated boyfriend than in stable nuclear families. Even when the boyfriend was the children’s biological father, the chances of abuse were twice as high.

These findings are consonant with those published a year earlier by Leslie Margolin of the University of Iowa in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect. Prof. Margolin found that boyfriends were 27 times more likely than natural parents to abuse a child. The next-riskiest group, siblings, were only twice as likely as parents to abuse a child.

More recently, a report by Dr. Michael Stiffman presented at the latest meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in October, studied the 175 Missouri children under the age of 5 who were murdered between 1992 and 1994. It found that the risk of a child’s dying at the hands of an adult living in the child’s own household was eight times higher if the adult was biologically unrelated.

The Heritage Foundation’s Patrick Fagan discovered that the number of child-abuse cases appeared to rise in the 1980s along with the general societal acceptance of cohabitation before, or instead of, marriage. That runs counter to the radical-feminist view, which holds that marriage is an oppressive male institution of which violence is an integral feature. If that were true, then child abuse and domestic violence should have decreased along with the rise in cohabitation.

Heritage also found that in the case of very poor children (those in households earning less than $ 15,000 per year), 75 percent lived in a household where the biological father was absent. And 50 percent of adults with less than a high-school education lived in cohabitation arrangements. “This mix — poverty, lack of education, children, and cohabitation — is an incubator for violence,” Fagan says.

Why, then, do we ignore the problem? Fagan has a theory: “It is extremely politically incorrect to suggest that living together might not be the best living arrangement.”

The moral of the story is that it is a lot safer for children if we promote marriage as a way of attaching mothers and fathers to their children. Fathers who have a biological connection to children are a lot less likely to harm them. We should probably be teaching women to choose men who have a certain tenderness towards people they mentor or nurture, as well. These things are not free, you have to persuade women to value the male tendency to want to lead / guide / mentor. A lot of social problems like child poverty, promiscuity and violence cannot be solved by replacing a father with a check from the government. We need to support fathers by empowering them in their traditional roles. Let the men lead. Swallow your feminist instincts, and prefer men who take seriously their role of leading others upward.

How do you persuade people to get married for the good of the children?

Here is an interesting interview with David Popenoe from CBC News. (H/T Andrea)

Excerpt:

AB: I’m wondering though if marriage is indispensable. I’ll quote you back to yourself if you don’t mind:

‘Although there are many caring and responsible non-resident fathers, the alarmingly simple fact is that men are much less likely to stay close to their children when they are not married to their children’s mother.’

Now in Quebec for instance, the last 2001 census, some 30 per cent of couples are living common law. Are we talking about a father’s presence in the hosuehold or are we talking about a father’s presence in the household while he’s formally married to the children’s mother?

DP: You know the problem with the cohabitation alternative, is that the break-up rate is so high. Even in Sweden, where cohabitation is as established a solution as it is in Quebec, the break-up rate of families with children who are just cohabiting is twice what it is for married couples. Sure they can raise children, but the likelihood of that child not living with two parents goes way up.

AB: So what do we do about this? Do we compell people to marriage? Do we offer disincentives to those couples? Do we return to the era when a child born out of wedlock is illegitimate? How do we persuade people who believe that they’re in the social vanguard, socially progressive, living without benefit of matrimony, that they ought to get married?

DP: It’s a hard question, and probably none of the things that you suggest does anybody want to do. But the first step is to realize that the decline of marriage is harmful for children. And then we have to look at culture and what’s causing the decline. After all, most cohabiting couples eventually get married.

I think it’s a question of putting children first. I don’t see any other way of bringing marriage back. But I do think marriage is very important for children even though it may be an inconvenience for a lot of adults. Incidentally, studies in the United States and other countries show that people who are married are much happier than people who are living apart or living single. And of course those are generalizations…

Does anyone have any ideas about how solve this problem?

I think that the problem of fatherlessness can be lessened with the right policies – tax incentives, the repeal of no-fault divorce, family court reform, domestic violence reform, the enactment of shared parenting laws, etc. And maybe churches could be more effective at applying Christianity to the areas of marriage and parenting so that at least Christians will understand what they are supposed to be doing with their spouses and children. For example, churches could work harder at convincing parents that they should focus more on raising the next generation of scholars, scientists and ADF lawyers.

But I think that people need to understand that feminism is the real problem here. If men are not going to be given a special role in the home, and if wives are going to compete with husband for the provider role by earning about the same or more as the man, and if judges are going to be overturning groundings on behalf of child-plaintiffs, then men are going to disengage from marriage and parenting. Until we as a society understand that men and women are fundamentally different, and that males need SPECIAL encouragement and respect for deciding to get married and to become fathers, then fatherlessness is going to remain a huge problem.

Consider this essay by Stephen Goldberg about men, marriage and family. (H/T Mysterious C)

Excerpt:

FEMINIST “theories” deny the physiological roots of maleness and femaleness. In doing this they persuade the contemporary woman not merely that she can have it all (an eventuality impossible for those with male physiologies to believe about themselves), but that marriage can ignore crucial differences between males and females, differences that (if acknowledged at all) are incorrectly alleged to be “merely cultural” and, therefore, amenable to elimination.

Most wives of fifty years ago understood that men were just men, and that men cannot be expected or socialized to be anything else. This made the marriage agreement a realistic one that was not inherently enraging to the woman (in the way it is when there is a pretense that men are simply less lumpy women who could just as easily accept an “egalitarian” role).

The woman of the contemporary ideology–unlike all the women of all other societies that have ever existed-no longer recognizes this. When wives have expectations of an “equality” that demands not merely equal reward for different behavior, but equal reward for the same behavior, marriage as an institution is in trouble, and would be even were there not numerous other forces tending toward this end. (There is, to be sure, a range of possibilities in practical terms; the treatment of women in the United States is different from that in Saudi Arabia. But the core statistical male-female differences of cognition, temperament, and behavior are the same everywhere: no society–and only a feminist sub-culture in ours—claims to believe that women could be as aggressive as men or men as nurturing as women; no society fails to associate dominance and crime with males or familial stability and child care with females.)

Similarly, the conflicting demands of feminine attractiveness and the maternal disposition, on the one hand, and success in the public arena, on the other, have generated a feminist psycho-social view of the world as protective armor. For example, it is received wisdom among the more feminist-oriented career women that men are threatened by female success, and there is no doubt a great deal of truth to this. Unexpected competition from former allies always causes anxiety, even if the new competitors do not add to the competition one faces.

But the deep cause of the feminist emphasis on this male anxiety is the realization that even those men who are not threatened by female success are not especially drawn to it. While the perimeters of conceptions of femininity vary from time to time and culture to culture, the core behavior that defines the feminine and attracts males everywhere and at all times does not much vary. And dominant behavior is not a vital component of this femininity. Women through the ages knew that males are drawn to the feminine and that characteristics not disproportionately associated with the female elicit, at best, a male lack of interest.

But women through the ages were not told that they had to exhibit these male characteristics. Contemporary women are told that their status will, to a great extent, be determined by their ability to mimic qualities associated with the male, and women know that these are, at best, qualities that do nothing to attract males. Males have never faced an analogous conflict because women everywhere have–for reasons rooted in female physiology–been drawn to men who exhibit dominance. Despite contemporary values claiming the desirability of males with a female portion of sensitivity and nurturance, the actual behavior of even those women who give lip-service encouragement to men who claim to agree casts serious doubt on the attractiveness to women of such men. The change in the attitude of each sex toward the other is at the heart of the matter. As women have come to have less use for men, and have refused to grant their husbands the special position both sexes once took for granted, men have come to have less use for women. Both look for satisfaction on an occupational playing field on which, statistically speaking, men as a sex cannot lose and women as a sex cannot win.

Steven Goldberg was the Chair of Sociology at City College, City University of New York from 1970 to 2005.

FBI investigating public school teacher for supporting terrorism

From the radically leftist Minneapolis Star Tribune. (H/T Verum Serum via Power Line)

Excerpt:

The homes of five Twin Cities activists, including three prominent leaders of the Twin Cities antiwar movement, were raided Friday by the FBI in what an agency spokesman described as an “investigation into activities concerning the material support of terrorism.” The office of an antiwar organization also was reportedly raided…

Among the homes raided were the apartments of Jessica Sundin, who was a principal leader of the mass antiwar march of 10,000 on the opening day of the Republican National Convention two years ago, and Mick Kelly, who was prominent in that protest and among those who announced plans to march on the Democratic National Convention in Minneapolis, if the city is selected to host it in 2012. Neither has been arrested.

A raid was also conducted on the home of Meredith Aby, another local antiwar leader who was frequently the spokeswoman for the march on the GOP convention.

But Morgen at Verum Serum has a lot more.

Excerpt:

The other thing I wanted to point out, which is really the headline here, is that Meredith Aby, the activist named in the last paragraph above, is actually a public high school teacher in Bloomington, MN. Her official school web site is here (and another one here). Not surprisingly she is a social studies teacher.

Aby is apparently a long-time leader of the anti-war movement in Minnesota, with her activism centered around an organization called the Anti-War Committee. While I think most people would agree that this alone should not preclude her from teaching young people, I think it does raise legitimate concerns about her objectivity. Especially given that the courses she teaches include US Government, Civics, and World History.

More troubling, Aby is apparently also quite active in promoting her political beliefs, which lean about as far left as you can get. She is a frequent contributor on Fight Back! News, the media arm of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and has been a speaker at numerous events organized by other overtly socialist groups, including the new incarnation of the SDS (Bill Ayers’ old group).

In short, she’s a commie. And unless Minnesota is more “progressive” than I realize, I can’t imagine there are very many parents who would be comfortable with her teaching their children about world history and political philosophy.

Here’s a little bit about her from one of her web sites:

Meredith Aby grew up in Worthington, Minnesota (the turkey capital of the world!). She graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota with a degree in history, women’s studies, and Spanish. She is the head debate coach at Jefferson and has coached speech at Jefferson and at Kennedy. Aby teaches debate, philosophy, civics, world history, U.S. government, and AP U.S. government. She has been teaching in Bloomington Public Schools since 1997 and is the proud mother of the cutest baby in the world!

No mention of a husband there.

Can you imagine entrusting your children to a left-wing radical like this? And letting her have the power of grading them based on their agreement and compliance with her value system? Yet we have to fund these government schools whether we like it or not – they’re paid for with taxpayer money.

Scientists discover how fathers improve brain development of children

Story from the Wall Street Journal. (H/T Andrew)

Excerpt:

Dr. Braun’s group found that at 21 days, the fatherless animals had less dense dendritic spines compared to animals raised by both parents, though they “caught up” by day 90. However, the length of some types of dendrites was significantly shorter in some parts of the brain, even in adulthood, in fatherless animals.

“It just shows that parents are leaving footprints on the brain of their kids,” says Dr. Braun, 54 years old.

The neuronal differences were observed in a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is related to emotional responses and fear, and the orbitofrontal cortex, or OFC, the brain’s decision-making center.

[…]The balance between these two brain parts is critical to normal emotional and cognitive functioning, according to Dr. Braun. If the OFC isn’t active, the amygdala “goes crazy, like a horse without a rider,” she says. In the case of the fatherless pups, there were fewer dendritic spines in the OFC, while the dendrite trees in the amygdala grew more and longer branches.

A preliminary analysis of the degus’ behavior showed that fatherless animals seemed to have a lack of impulse control, Dr. Braun says. And, when they played with siblings, they engaged in more play-fighting or aggressive behavior.

In a separate study in Dr. Braun’s lab conducted by post-doctoral researcher Joerg Bock, degu pups were removed from their caregivers for one hour a day. Just this small amount of stress leads the pups to exhibit more hyperactive behaviors and less focused attention, compared to those who aren’t separated, Dr. Braun says. They also exhibit changes in their brain.

The basic wiring between the brain regions in the degus is the same as in humans, and the nerve cells are identical in their function. “So on that level we can assume that what happens in the animal’s brain when it’s raised in an impoverished environment … should be very similar to what happens in our children’s brain,” Dr. Braun says.

Read the whole thing.

Related posts

How feminism destroyed free speech and free inquiry on university campuses

Story from David Thompson. (H/T ECM)

The post on David Thompson’s blog contains some foul language.

Let me first give you the facts from the FIRE article David is writing about.

Professor Thomas Thibeault made the mistake of pointing out – at a sexual harassment training seminar – that the school’s sexual harassment policy contained no protection for the falsely accused. Two days later, in a Kafkaesque irony, Thibeault was fired by the college president for sexual harassment without notice, without knowing his accuser or the charges against him, and without a hearing. […]

Thibeault’s ordeal started shortly after August 5, 2009 when, during a faculty training session regarding the college’s sexual harassment policy, he presented a scenario regarding a different professor and asked, “What provision is there in the sexual harassment policy to protect the accused against complaints which are malicious or, in this case, ridiculous?” Vice President for Legal Affairs Mary Smith, who was conducting the session, replied that there was no such provision to protect the accused, so Thibeault responded that “the policy itself is flawed.”

And then some of Thibeault’s testimony:

[…]Mary Smith was explaining the sexual harassment policy and was emphasising that faculty had to report suspicions of sexual harassment by any faculty member to the college administration. She was stating that the feelings of the offended were proof of the offensive nature of the behaviour.

[…]There is no provision in the policy. I must emphasise that if the person feels offended then the incident must be reported to the college authorities. Even if you hear such a statement about a faculty member, you are to report it. If you don’t, you yourself are party to the harassment and harassment is dismissible.

[…]Two days later, Thibeault was summoned to [college] President John Bryant Black’s office. According to Thibeault’s written account of the meeting – which was sent to Black and which Black has not disputed – Thibeault met with Black and Smith. Black told Thibeault that he “was a divisive force in the college at a time when the college needed unity” and that Thibeault must resign by 11:30 a.m. or be fired and have his “long history of sexual harassment… made public.” This unsubstantiated allegation took Thibeault by surprise. Black added that Thibeault would be escorted off campus by Police Chief Drew Durden and that Black had notified the local police that he was prepared to have Thibeault arrested for trespassing if he returned to campus. At no point was Thibeault presented with the charges against him or given any chance to present a defence.

ECM send me this article from Canadian writer David Warren on political correctness and fascism.

Excerpt:

The purpose of political correction is to delegitimate opposition; to make the most basic facts of life undiscussable, and thereby eliminate debate. It is a device for seizing power.

In my view, the ideological Left advances ruthlessly, by turning the meanings of words upside down, by stating bald lies that we must not dare to challenge, by introducing “reforms” in the dark of the night, often through courts to subvert Parliament.

My concern is that these feminist suppressions of speech using false accusations will spread, until every interplay between men and women becomes a kind of Duke University lacrosse scandal where facts don’t matter so long as the media can bash the right people for being sexist, racist homophobes.

UPDATE: I just noticed a nice post from Suzanne (Big Blue Wave), who dissents from feminism.