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Neurodevelopment

Neuro and pathological development are critical factors in behavioral manifestation and motive. Motive to achieve and to not achieve are affected by an array of influences that can be improved or 'made healthier'. By providing mechanisms in educational materials and methods, significant improvements are possible in motive to achieve and thus breaking the chain of systemic social dysfunction.

SYSTEMIC SOCIAL FUNCTION & DYSFUNCTION

The cause and propagation of society's dilemma, as well as its answer, lies in the nature of system dynamics. Studies show that Systemic Social Dysfunction extends back at least four generations. Obsessive - compulsive - addictive disorders are passed from environment (caretaker, sub-culture) to child and manifest in many types of behavior. The degree of severity and type of dysfunction experienced, and an individual's role in the family-of-origin, are determinant factors in the type of behavior manifested and life motivations. Intervention and prevention of social dysfunction must be approached from many perspectives. Keep in mind the goal here is to systemically increase healthier social function.

Neurodevelopmental Factors in the 'Cycle of Violence' 

The medical community has increased its emphasis on preventive medicine in order to alleviate the high costs incurred by healing what is already broken or diseased. By focusing on preventive medicine and promoting healthier lifestyles, it is reasonable to assume that the resultant savings will more than offset the initial costs of promoting and implementing such a venture.

The Social Curriculum is to be designed as preventive medicine for society. By incorporating parental support programs, and a curriculum that is designed to educate even the youngest of our students in a manner appropriate to the age of those students, we will inform teacher, parent and child about the dynamics that are involved in all of our lives. This will enable greater understanding of how we are affected by our family-of-origin and our societal family - literally teaching the dynamics involved in inter­personal relationships and understanding the bias of perspective and how it affects communication and the decision making process. As a result of social dysfunction, one's ability to achieve a high level of individuation is hampered by the degree and type of abuse incurred in the family-of-origin and the societal family. Any person's ability to recognize her or his own level of individuation is dictated by the level of neurosis generated by the abuse incurred. Therefore it is impractical to assume that, as individuals, we can achieve higher levels of function without correct understanding.

We become handicapped in our social interactions with others in dysfunctional relationships as a result of low basic and functional levels. The severity of this handicap will dictate the amount of energy and time that must be exerted to achieve the healing necessary to reduce the effects. The healthier the family-of-origin, the higher the levels of individuation will be.

It is assumed, based on the research to date, that by these means described herein we will be able to increase the level of function i.e. the health of human function in social strata. Systemic Social Dysfunction can be turned into Systemic Social Function. The system dynamics of a healthier society will promote healthier societal function. There is a lot of room for improvement--even some success might be considered monumental at this point. The Social Curriculum is a means to this end.

CHILD ABUSE & SOCIAL DYSFUNCTION

The average age of a child victim is seven (sexual abuse). Two to five children die each day from child abuse (physical abuse). Seventy percent of runaways are fleeing an abusive environment. Ninety-seven percent of hard-core delinquents have a history of child abuse (neglect victims). One-in-four girls and one-in-ten boys under eighteen will be involved in some form of forced sexual experience with an adult (poor sexual modeling and unhealthy environment). Eighty percent of all prostitutes were sexually abused as children (in 86% percent of these cases, the perpetrator is the parent). Eighty percent of prison inmates were abused as children [Los Angeles Emergency Response Team Statistics]. Neglect, in its various degrees of severity, is responsible for social, neurotic, and even psychopathic delinquency [International Encyclopedia of Social Sciences]. Genetic and biologic maladies considered--the majority of cases indicate that social-environmental factors are the strongest compelent involved in turning an inclination into a personality dysfunction. Virtually all crime that is not survival oriented can be attributed and/or connected to these factors. Level of education, opportunity and physical need seems to cover the rest. The immediate concern and point of intervention is child abuse. This is how social dysfunction is passed from parent to child. Child abuse comes in many forms: neglect, mental, physical, and sexual abuse, as well as unhealthy behavioral reinforcement practices leading to poor individuation of the self, lack of coping mechanisms, low self-esteem, and dissociation between the intellectual, emotional and sexual-self.

The intellectual-self creates a seemingly safe perception as a defense to the abuse incurred, concealing its reality. The individual functions in society (albeit in a dysfunctional manner). This is pertaining to the ability to act with a high degree of autonomy while maintaining a low level of anxiety in relation to others, i.e. high functional level. The denial mechanism found in a chronic high-anxiety, low self-esteem individual handicaps the ability to achieve higher degrees of individuation by creating a neurotic defensive posture. This, in turn, impairs the ability of the person to perceive the self in a realistic manner. In the individual's mind, everything is fine. We are a product of our environment and vice versa. We are symbiotically tied to the ebb and flow of emotions and societal trends.

By breaking the chain with understanding we can disable this codependency. The lower the level of individuation the more susceptible we are to reacting to our environment--decisions are more highly dependent on emotional need. The higher the level of individuation, the lower the level of chronic anxiety--people are less reactive, more responsive, and decisions are less dependent on emotional need. The greater the individuation, the less apt one is to resort to controlling behavior.

THE COST OF CHILD ABUSE

The monetary costs of child abuse reach into all aspects of society and every taxpayer's wallet: higher educational costs, welfare, insurance, prison, social reform programs, the policing of society, the judicial system, etc. Even the high cost of medical care may be attributed to low self-esteem. It is estimated that crime costs society $425 billion a year [Business Week, December 13, 1993 pg. 72-85]. The foster care system, which takes victims of child abuse out of the family-of-origin costs $11 billion a year, emancipating 16,000 children a year, many of whom, for lack of proper care, become homeless immediately [Los Angeles Times, Dec. 12, 1993 Page 1]. These figures do not take into account the cost of welfare, insurance, medical, and the extent to which these systems are effected by victims of Systemic Social Dysfunction. Healthier lifestyles and social systems will reduce these costs.

Successful early intervention programs provide coordinated services at home, at school, and in the community. One such program, First Steps, has reported long-lasting and significant improvements in children's behavior. This program also helps children stay on task and learn. In addition, most children who complete First Steps do not need any further intervention (A. Golly, personal communication, February 21, 1997).

Without early intervention the development of antisocial behaviors follows a predictable pattern that increases in severity as the child grows older. Experts in children's antisocial behavior agree that:

  • While antisocial behavior in children can be identified by age 3 (Walker, Severson, and Feil, 1994) services often do not begin until after age 10 (Duncan, Forness, and Hartsough, 1995); and
  • If interventions do not occur before age 8, the child is likely to develop delinquent behavior and require more intensive and expensive programs later in life.

Early intervention programs are far less costly, in terms of time and money, than alternative treatments, including:

(a) special education while the child is in elementary school, 

(b) residential facilities for children who are removed from their home and neighborhood school, and 

(c) incarceration for juvenile delinquents. 

Thus, early intervention to prevent antisocial behavior is not only effective, but cost efficient (Walker, Kavanagh, Stiller, Golly, Severson, and Feil, 1997).

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Early Intervention

(cost factors per year)
Early Intervention $3,000
Special Education $12,500
Residential Facilities $30,000
Incarceration $50,000

*References

* Cost figures from following sources: Early Intervention and Residential Facilities - Walker, Kavanagh, Stiller, Golly, Severson, and Feil, 1997; Special Education - George, 1997; Incarceration - Federal Bureau of Prisons, 1991.Christenson, S., Sinclair, M., Thurlow, M., & Evelo, D. (1995). Tip the balance: Policies and practices that influence school engagement for youth at high risk for dropping out. ABC Dropout Prevention and Intervention Series. Washington, DC: US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

In achieving an efficient and workable solution, it is imperative that proper identification of the causative factors be accomplished. Our concentration on alleviating symptoms depletes our financial and human resources, diminishing our ability to attain resolution. We have proven we can not stop drug trafficking by attacking drug dealers. In the law of supply and demand - decrease demand and supply will follow suit. We can not stop crime by putting criminals in jail without an effective rehabilitation program. The incarceration of most hardcore criminals (those of lowest-functional-level) typically produces more intense criminal behavior by environmental association. Popular belief states that crime and media are the problem. These symptoms have become operating systems and have thus become part of the problem. The roots of this dilemma lie in the obsessive, compulsive, addictive disorders that are passed on through our social systems. Evolution means change, which is a frightening prospect for individuals of low-functional-level. It means letting go of seemingly secure foundations and stepping out into uncertainty.

If we continue to treat the symptoms without addressing the disease, the ensuing conflagration is predictably catastrophic--in fact, it already is. The devastation can be seen in the eyes, hearts and lives of every victim of Systemic Social Dysfunction. Understandably, their decreased ability to recognize the ailment keeps them from seeking solutions that will alleviate the problem. Education is still the key. At this point there is no denying the complexity of the dilemma. Without a direct attack on the transmutable catalyst of this epidemic, we can reasonably expect further deterioration of social function.

Manifestation is not class specific. This is a white and blue collar problem. The recent economic morass is evidence of the degrading influence of SSD on a large scale in the socio-economic system.

 

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