The Words of the Oswald Family

Children's Emotional Poverty Is Greatest Precursor To Violence

Rachel Oswald
Published November 19, 2005
Special to World Peace Herald

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Child abuse costs the world $94 billion a year, according to a recent study.

The study was conducted by Be-Free, an anti-child abuse and neglect program run by the Bahrain Women Society. The study examined the direct costs that arise from child abuse, such as the cost of hospitalization in the cases of physical abuse as well as the indirect costs associated from child abuse, for example high rates of adult criminality and the resulting loss of productivity to society.

"Children don't learn by hearing but by watching," Soroor Qarooni, founder of Be-Free and a panelist at a symposium on protecting children from abuse, exploitation and violence held Friday at the World Association of NGOs' (WANGO) annual conference in Santo Domingo.

Qarooni said that children who witness acts of domestic violence are more likely to be in an abusive relationship later in life and are more likely to commit acts of abuse themselves.

The importance of strong family values was cited as the most important preventative of child abuse by Qarooni and her fellow panelist, J'Lein Liese, founder of Foundation for Global Leadership, which provides training and technical assistance to governments and non-governmental organizations in the areas of post-conflict reconstruction.

"The number one precursor to youths choosing to engage in violence is emotional poverty," Liese said.

Disputing a common belief that economic poverty is the cause behind youths making the choice to commit acts of violence, Liese said, "Less than three percent of those living in economic poverty turn to violence."

Liese said this information had been gathered from conversations with police officers in many different nations.

A U.S. National Institute of Justice study found that experiencing childhood abuse and neglect increases the likelihood of arrest as a juvenile by 53 percent and of committing a violent crime by 38 percent. Those youths that are neglected as children are almost as likely to be arrested for violent crimes as those who are physically abused. The study also found that among youths arrested for violent acts, eight out of ten were neglected as children.

Liese said that children who don't feel hope are more likely to join violent causes such as gangs, rebel factions, or terrorist organizations. Liese criticized those child-abuse programs that don't include youths in the process.

"We need to design our programs so that they feel loved and accepted. They need to feel part of the program and of the solution," said Liese who pointed out that it is the rebel factions and terrorist groups who are partnering up with youths today and even allowing them to rise to positions of leadership.

According to Liese, there are 300 million children under the age of 13 engaging in acts of violence today.

UNICEF in its 2005 report on The State of the World's Children found that more than one billion children are denied a healthy and protected upbringing as promised by 1989's Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is the world's most widely adopted human rights treaty.

WANGO is an international organization that unites NGOs worldwide through common causes such as economic development, inter-faith dialogues and human rights. WANGO considers Rev. Sun Myung Moon to be the source of its founding vision, and he remains its major supporter. Rev. Moon founded News World Communications, which publishes World Peace Herald.

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