Youth violence has become a problem that must be solved. This book examines teen aggression from the standpoint of development, prevention and treatment.
This book has now won 2 awards: The Independent Publishers Award and Best Crime Non-Fiction for 2007.
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Dr. Kathy Seifert
A few faces and events have remained etched vibrantly in my memory, and I can recall scenarios as if they happened yesterday. I remember walking down a tier in a flax jacket (a Kevlar vest that protects your chest from being injured if someone should try to stab you). I was attempting to coax a mentally ill inmate who was bleeding to death to come peacefully out of his barricaded cell, so he would not have to be taken out by force. He would not listen to me and was taken out of the cell by correctional officers and brought to the hospital.Normally the cell blocks smelled of bleach and floor wax. It was actually quite antiseptic and orderly until the days when the inmates got into uproars and threw urine, feces, or burning paper into the corridors. Then the hallways would smell foul and a horrible stench would permeate the walls. I don’t know why they’d throw these things at us—be it out of anger, revenge, or just for kicks. Who knows what’s going on in the mind of a mentally ill person that’s locked up for 23 hours out of every 24? The mix of body odor, the smell of urine and feces, and the reek of burning paper is a smell you can never quite wash off or forget.Numerous staff members have been raped, injured, or killed while working in the criminal justice system, trying to offer these psychopaths a second chance at life. This is also something you never forget or totally shake off. Luck and fate were the sole determinants as to who was assaulted: them or you.Officers were often called on to protect my colleagues and I, to prevent dangerous incidents, and sometimes save our lives. One learns quickly that you need to always be aware and careful in a prison, and correctional officers are your lifelines if you choose to work behind The Walls.
This book was written for professionals working in the mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice/criminal justice, and research fields, as well as students studying these fields and individuals affected by violence. I have tried to make Why Children Become Violent readable for anyone who is interested in this area or is raising a child with attachment problems.
My goal is to make a case for the fact that juvenile and adult violence begins very early in life, and it is both preventable and treatable. I hope that my research and experience, gained in over 30 years in this profession, will prove that society must intervene early in the lives of children living in violent, neglectful, criminal, and substance-dependent families. Appropriate care, safety, and health for all children is in the world’s best interest. This is not to justify bad behavior by adults. Both adults and adolescents must take responsibility for their behavior. However, if we have the technology to assess, prevent, and treat violence and sexual offending and to prevent future offending behaviors, to not do so is a crime.
Praise for How Children Become Violent
“Kathy Seifert offers a broad and cogent view of the development of aggression and violence in children and adolescents, and richly illustrates the role of interpersonal attachment and social connectedness in the process. Describing the disruption of childhood attachment as a cornerstone in the development of troubled behavior and violence, Dr. Seifert demonstrates the need for lay persons and professionals alike to pay attention to attachment patterns and needs in our child rearing practices and in our later treatment interventions with troubled children and adolescents. In so doing, she provides us with a perspective and the tools to recognize and assess attitudinal, emotional, and behavioral difficulties that may signal aggression in children, and a multi-dimensional approach to treatment that can help in our treatment of these youth and the prevention of further aggression.”
Dr. Phil Rich, Ed.D., LICSW
Clinical Director, Stetson School, Barre, Massachusetts
Doctorate in applied behavioral and organizational studies
Books: 'How Children Become Violent'
Early bonding critical for development
January 25, 2007
By Mary Compton
School and youth counselors will want to add "How Children Become Violent" by Kathryn Seifert to their collection of must reads.
A thorough book based on the author's 30 years of working in the mental health field, provides a real vision of the state of violence in youth today.
Some of Seifert's studies have come to conclusions many parents already know.
Exposure to media violence such as negative television shows, violent video games, peer pressure, along with the breakdown of the family, have contributed to stressors which cause disorders in young people.
Seifert's studies reinforce beliefs that a loving, nurturing relationship needs to be built in infancy or the child will suffer for the rest of his life.
It is through these early connections that children learn how to participate in relationships with others.
Seifert goes on to support her findings.
She says if severe and chronic emotional and physical neglect occur in the first five years of life, later problems such as anxiety, panic attacks, severe mood swings and explosive and violent behavior will surface.
Seifert briefly touches on the childhoods of killers such as Son of Sam, Ted Bundy and Charles Manson.
Each one suffered some type of loss or parental neglect as a small child.
She talks about cases she has worked on.
One child who was neglected by a drug addicted mother, left in his crib, hungry, crying and with a dirty diaper grew into adolescence with a sense of hopelessness.
The child later joined a gang and was killed. The story is the same, repeated over and over again, throughout the world on a daily basis.
Her study shows other children who start life similarly but make it to adulthood, often take with them attachment disorders and also severe psychosis.
Seifert provides more details along with resource contact information throughout the book.
There are millions of neglected, abandoned and abused children in this world who are calling out for help.
After reading this book, I am compelled to make a difference. One of the best quotes I read came from an educator, Larry Bell, who said, "Even on your worst day, you may be a child's only best hope."
Mary Compton may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org (708) 633-6764.
“ The Key Is Maternal Attachment, April 19, 2009
By Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin
Dr. Seifert has written one of the most important books for our time because she has made the critical issue of violence in children and adults understandable as to its origins. We must grapple with how to intervene much earlier on and we can no longer adhere to strict artificial categories such as political violence of terrorism vs. criminal violence of 'routine' homicide and/or domestic violence. Moreover as autism rates have skyrocketed we must realize that a segment of this population will become violent.
Dr. Seifert sketches out this difficult terrain in great detail and shows the impact of violence, genetics and bioneurological chemistry on the child's development set in the first relationship in life - the mother infant dyad.
I have read many books and articles on this subject as a psychoanalyst. I found hers to be unique and special because of her ability to demonstrate the universality of human predatory behavior. She is to be congratulated and I look forward to reading more of her work.
This is a book that should be required reading for counter terrorist experts and the military as well as law enforcement and for sure all those involved in the education of children and concerned citizens. Indeed it is a global work for our globally troubled times.
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Reader Reviews for "How Children Become Violent (Professional Version)"
|Reviewed by Tami Brady
|Psychotherapist, speaker, and researcher Kathryn Seifert has scribed this new book on a very important topic, i.e. roots of violence in people who are generally regarded as ‘dangerous’. The impetus for writing How Children Become Violent came of Dr. Seifert’s own experience of working in psychopathic inmates in a prison she remembers as ‘The Walls’. Years of research led her to conclude that juvenile and adult violence is rooted in early childhood trauma, neglect, and abuse. In her book, she explores in detail the way violence becomes a part of an individual’s personality.
How Children Become Violentis divided into three main portions. The first deals with violence and disrupted attachment patterns (DAP) and the way they make their way in a child’s mind. Dr. Seifert has included case studies to elaborate her point. The second part of the book details the assessment processes and criteria for determining an individual’s degree of DAP. It has a fair degree of technical language and is mainly suited to the interest of mental heath professionals and researchers. The lay reader can skip this section without missing the gist of the author’s discussion. In the third section, Dr. Seifert describes existing and possible treatment methods for dealing with DAP problems.
Dr. Seifert’s writing style is easy to follow and free of linguistic complexity in the first and last section. Only where inevitable does she use the jargon of psychology/psychiatry. Her account of personal experience with violent individuals and the description of the miserable condition of children and youth in different countries give her book a touch of care and honest concern. The book also lists resources for getting information and guidance on DAP related problems.
Kathryn Seifert has done an important job in creating a book that aims at serving a vital purpose: preventing violence and making life peaceful. Her book How Children Become Violent is a recommended read for everyone.