Spending a good deal of time with my new grandson, I cannot help but appreciate his innocence and his total dependence on those who care for him. Fortunately, he has been born to parents who love him and into an family that has the means to provide for all his needs. He will receive a good education, benefit from the emotional support of his parents and extended family and, no doubt, be well prepared to face the challenges of his adult life.
Unfortunately, a significant percentage of human children do not experience such a loving and caring environment as they mature. Many are exposed to the ravages of poverty and some are subjected to emotional and/or physical abuse. Even those who appear unscathed by a troubled childhood retain scars that impact future relationships with friends, marital partners, employers and their own children.
Too often, those who benefitted from a "normal" childhood fail to recognize the impact that early childhood deficiencies (emotional, nutritional and social) have later in life; perhaps if they were more introspective they might recognize behaviors that were clearly instilled or influenced by others. Genetic inheritance has a profound effect on our physical, social and emotional traits but the childhood environment plays a major role as well. While crime and other anti-social behavior cannot be condoned, we must recognize that innocent, helpless children do not adopt such traits on their own. We cannot effectively address our social problems without devoting adequate resources to early childhood health and education.