It occurred to me recently that the principle of ‘as above, so below’ applies to pretty much everything, including the connection between our parenting philosophies and our justice system. Everything is connected. The attitudes we have about raising our children are also reflected in our institutions and governments.
This came about as I was reflecting on the inefficiency of prison sentences when it dawned on me that it is essentially an adult ‘time-out’, which would explain its continuing failure. Having researched into the long-term effects of using time-outs to control behaviour, it is obvious that it is an outdated approach to instilling discipline because it is part of the punishment/reward system. The same downfalls that occur when using time-outs with children also occur when being used on adults. It’s a wonder why anyone still uses this method. This approach to controlling behaviour does not work on many accounts; the most obvious:
-it does not teach the needed skills to prevent unwanted behaviour
-it invalidates the victim’s feelings and needs while ignoring what led to the behaviour to begin with
-it creates a rift in the relationship because communication is severed
-punishment prevents any positive learning to occur, always
Isolating perpetrators for their crimes without addressing the underlying issues is a band-aid fix to a problem that is going to keep occurring unless it is stemmed at its source. Looking at the reasons why certain crimes occur, it is a no-brainer that it is a cultural sickness that we are unwilling to invest in meeting people’s basic needs in order to prevent them. Especially since all harmful behaviour can be traced back to unmet childhood needs. When a person is willing to harm themselves or others it is a sign that they have become disconnected from themselves and society as a means of protecting themselves from a perceived threat. This type of disconnected attitude is learned from childhood. Children naturally want to connect to others, to feel safe and accepted, but if for some reason their needs are not properly met they will develop ways to function despite it. These people are then at risk of falling into less-than-optimal lifestyles in search of having those needs met somehow. The patterns set up in childhood dictate a person’s actions for the rest of their lives, unless they make the difficult choice of changing them consciously.
That is why it is so important that our governing bodies realise that change begins at home. Investing in educating parents on appropriate parenting styles that do not rely on coercion, punishment, and shame to exact wanted behaviour will go a long way to changing the general attitudes of the next generations who will have the responsibility to make the changes needed in our countries. Unless our underlying beliefs about people changes, we will continue to use punitive measures to ‘correct’ issues that could easily be prevented with some compassion and forethought. It is never enough to isolate wrong-doers without addressing the actual problems and helping them resolve their own personal issues that led to it. Like using time-out in the nursery, it is an outdated approach that needs to be scrapped and a more effective method applied.