Parents Linked to Children's Violence ; Results of Psychiatrists' Research Put before Ministers

By Waterhouse, Rosie | The Independent (London, England), December 3, 1994 | Go to article overview
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Parents Linked to Children's Violence ; Results of Psychiatrists' Research Put before Ministers


Waterhouse, Rosie, The Independent (London, England)


Bad parenting can cause violent behaviour in children, who then become defiant, aggressive or even killers, according to research by child psychiatrists in London.

The murder of two-year-old James Bulger, by two ten-year-old boys in February 1993, has led to intense speculation about whether such violent behaviour is due to innate "evil", or to their upbringing.

Research by Dr Stephen Scott, of the Institute of Psychiatry, and Dr Brian Jacobs, of the Maudsley Hospital in south London, suggests that parenting is a significant factor in causing violent behaviour. It has also led to the development of training packages for parents.

Their findings were reported yesterday to Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health, and David Hunt, the Science Minister, during a review of research at the Institute of Psychiatry.

The visit to a National Health Service research establishment was the first since Mrs Bottomley announced new methods of funding research and development in the NHS, including an extra pounds 40m next year from the budgets of district health authorities.

Dr Scott followed up the behaviour of parents and children aged between three and eight who were referred by GPs and child guidance centres, while Dr Jacobs and researchers from Guy's Hospital in London studied parents and older children aged between 7 and 10 with severe behaviour problems, some out-patients and some in-patients at psychiatric clinics.

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