>Andy Kerr, Scottish Health Minister has said that the tonic wine Buckfast is a “seriously bad” cause of antisocial behaviour. This naivety fills me with horror. If you take his comments to their logical conclusion, all we have to do to have a nation of happy, respectful, responsible
people is to ban Buckfast. It’s the sort of scapegoating we are used to from Labour – anything to avoid looking at the root causes of a problem.
The availability of cheap alcohol is a worry – but why blame one drink when you can get a half bottle of vodka in the supermarket for less than £4.
The whole issue of anti social behaviour is incredibly complex and anyone who thinks there is going to be a quick and easy fix is kidding themselves. Part of the problem, I feel, is the culture in which we raise our children. They need a strong attachment very early on or, as scientific research is now telling us quite strongly, their brains are flooded with the stress hormone, Cortisol. This can hamper the development of the part of the brain which deals with social and emotional skills. Our parenting culture is geared to teaching children to be independent at unrealistically early ages, and encourages parents not to respond to their early needs for close contact and emotional security. It stands to reason that if we don’t do this, many children will not be able to fulfil their true potential. With one in five of us suffering depression at some stage of our lives, and mental health problems generally on the increase, isn’t it time to look at ways of ensuring that our children are given the best start in life.
One of my favourite books is called Why Love Matters, How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain by Sue Gerhardt. The Guardian’s review of this book stated that it should be required reading for every politician.
I can just see some of you thinking that I’m advocating creepy New Labour like parenting classes. No, but there needs to be some way of getting the information about this research out there so that parents can consider it when making their parenting decisions. There are plenty books out there advocating various unpleasant regime orientated parenting methods – it’s time to redress that balance.
I’m not stupid enough to think this is the whole answer, but it’s something we have to consider before another generation is damaged.