Children raised in violent homes are more likely to be violent themselves. A growing body of science suggests there are critical stages when intervention can interrupt the cycle, reports the Los Angeles Times. New findings in brain development, human behavior, and economics suggest that early childhood is the most critical and cost-effective time. “Children model what they see. If they see the parents using physical aggression, then the child will learn that when they meet life’s frustrations, the right thing to do is use physical aggression,” said Seth Scholer, a professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University.
A program called Parents Too Soon sends “educators” into homes to teach young mothers about the social, emotional, and brain development of children. In the last 20 years, research has shown that these programs can improve parenting skills, boost children’s cognitive, and emotional development, keep mothers on track academically and lower the risk of child abuse and neglect, said Neil Guterman, a professor at the University of Chicago and an expert on home visiting. “There’s strong evidence to show these programs, if implemented properly, can improve the life course of the mother and the child,” he said.