This is a story about Charlie
Charlie, age 19 years, is just leaving prison. He has been convicted of stealing. He is also often aggressive. He generally behaves badly, and most people would think he was responsible for his crimes and deserves to be punished.
But let’s look at his story.
His mother was very stressed while she was pregnant, had no support from her family or friends and her partner did not want the child.
Charlie was a very difficult baby, often crying and hard to soothe. His mother became depressed. She was not able to give him love, warmth or encouragement. His father treated him harshly.
He did badly at school, was slow at learning, showed readily distracted attention, and often broke the rules. He was often excluded and then started to truant.
In his early teens he turned to crime.
How should we think about this?
His mother’s stress while she was pregnant could have caused him to be a difficult baby and hard to soothe. It could also have led him, as he got a little older, to show signs of ADHD and being hard to control.
All this made it tough for his family to deal with him, and show him affection. His mother’s depression made it harder for her to give him the sensitive mothering that might have helped.
His slowness at learning, ADHD and tendency to break rules (conduct disorder) are all strong risk factors for later criminal behaviour.
So one could say that a mixture of his genes and his early environment, starting in the womb, predisposed him to becoming a criminal.
We might still think he is responsible for what he did. Certainly not all those who have a hard start in life turn to crime. But maybe if Charlie had had a different start in life things would have turned out differently.
Watch the video to learn more about Charlie’s story