Brainwave boffin jolts us with a caution: we should brace for a crime wave spawned by the quakes

We should blame the earthquakes.

It was an earthquake that did it, you honour.

Stand by to hear a new line of pleading in a few years from lawyers acting for ratbag kids who have fallen afoul of the law and want to get off scot-free.

The plea will be that earthquakes should take the rap, not the delinquent child.

Alf makes this prediction on the strength of something he read at Stuff today.

He was told:

Babies born immediately after the earthquakes could be more susceptible to committing crime, domestic abuse and gambling as adults, a brain development expert says.

It should be noted, of course, that these babies “could” be more susceptible, not “will”.

But how alarmed should we be about a tsunami of crime being one of the longer-term aftershocks of the earthquakes?

Nathan Mikaere-Wallis, a former human development lecturer at the University of Canterbury, said this is a worst-case scenario and work could be done to prevent it.

This Mikaere-Wallis feller then becomes very earnest about stuff that goes on under our skulls.

The first three years of life is the most important in terms of brain development and if a child has been exposed to a high-stress environment during this time, it could prevent part of the brain from fully developing.

Mikaere-Wallis, a Brainwave Trust board member, said children who went through trauma in their first three years could lack the ability to regulate their behaviour, ability to develop social skills, self-control and empathy because they had been too busy developing the survival part of their brain.

There’s that weasel word “could” again.

Self-control was the No 1 factor in determining whether a child would be successful in life, he said.

But Alf is not so sure about the validity of this proposition.

He happens to have heaps of self-control.

Heaps more than Judith Collins, anyway, because he has never had to apologise for sharing with a TV audience something told him in a private conversation.

But which one of us has risen higher up the political ladder?

Alf does not say this unkindly about Crusher, who is a good friend. He simply wishes to raise a question about the career-enhancing properties of self-control.

But let’s go on.

Mikaere-Wallis was concerned about what would happen if no extra support was made available to families and schools to help reverse the damage.

“We’ve already got a large group of dysfunctional people. I am concerned [that] if we don’t meet the needs of parents now, we are going to be dealing with the ramifications for the next 25 years.”

Uh, oh. This sounds suspiciously like a pitch for more public funding.

Mikaere-Wallis said children who had started school during the past two years and were two or three-years-old at the time of the quakes had done most of their brain development when the quakes hit.

He was worried that the number of children with learning issues would increase even more when those children born immediately after the quakes started turning five next year.

There would always be a percentage of children whose brain development had been negatively affected by trauma, but the quakes exposed a greater number of children to a high-stress situation.

Most primary schools were set up to deal with it, but it was likely they would need to increase that level of support from next year.

More teacher aides would also be need.

Yep, it’s a pitch for funding sure enough.

For what it’s worth, the outfit that hires the feller who is sounding this warning was formed as a response to new scientific evidence on the impact that experiences in the early years have on the brain development of a child.

Brainwave has tax exemption status from the IRD.

So the money sought must come from Alf and his hard-working constituents who do pay their taxes and, no doubt, from Brainwave’s hard-working staff.

But Alf would be more willing to cough up if the science was robust enough to turn “could” into “will”.

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