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ss triple helix - autumn 2006,  FASBOs (fetal anti-social behaviour orders) – Christians should support properly resourced and evaluated policies

FASBOs (fetal anti-social behaviour orders) – Christians should support properly resourced and evaluated policies

The UK Prime Minister Tony Blair recently stated,'If we are not prepared to predict and intervene far more early, children are going to grow up in families that we know perfectly well are completely dysfunctional. The kids a few years down the line are going to be a menace to society and actually a threat to themselves'.[1]

Should Christians support these initiatives or should we be critical of the 'Big Brother approach'?[2]

The following are known risk factors for anti-social behaviour: impulsivity, low intelligence, poor parental supervision and adverse parenting, parental criminality, memberships of the delinquent peer group, large family size and low family income, opportunities for crime.[3] When both genetic and environmental factors are present, the risk of adult criminality is 40%. This risk can be substantially reduced by good parenting: adoption studies show that children reared apart from antisocial biological parents have only a 12% risk of adult criminality.[4]

Fetal and infant brains are very vulnerable, as in the case of fetal alcohol syndrome. Infants severely neglected in Romanian orphanages are at higher risk of attention deficit disorder.[5] The impulsivity of this illness is predictive for adult antisocial personality disorder.[6]

An eminent forensic psychiatrist emphasises prevention of antisocial behaviour by: targeting those at high risk of developing adult antisocial personality disorder and prevention of passing on antisocial behaviour by targeting high risk families by intervening in pregnancy, infancy and pre-school.[7]

The UK Government provided parenting support via its Sure Start programme [8] but those most at risk may well have slipped through the net. Clare Tickell, National Children's Homes Chief Executive, says: 'It is right that the Government is focusing on early intervention… this approach can positively change the lives of some of the most vulnerable children, young people and their families'.[9]

We as Christians should support properly resourced and evaluated policies that help vulnerable children and which may also prevent future criminal behaviour.

  1. Tony Blair. Daily Mail 2006; 1 September
  2. Shami Chakrabarti (Liberty). Daily Mail 2006; 1 September
  3. Rutter M (ed). Psychosocial Disturbances in Young People. Challenges for Prevention. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995:xi-xii
  4. Bohman M. Predisposition to criminality. Swedish adoption studies in retrospect. In: Bock GR, Goode JA (eds). Genetics of criminal and antisocial behaviour. Ciba Symposium 1996: 99-114,194
  5. Rutter M et al. Quasi-autistic patterns following severe early global deprivation. Journal Child Psychol Psychiatry 1999; 40:537-550
  6. Rutter M et al. Genetics and child psychiatry: II. Empirical research findings. Journal Child Psychol Psychiatry 1999; 40:19-56
  7. Coid JW. Formulating strategies for the primary prevention of adult antisocial behaviour: 'High Risk' or 'population' strategies? In: Early Prevention of Adult Antisocial Behaviour. Farrington DP, Coid JW (eds). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003:32-78
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