Spotting criminals in nursery school

Children as young as 3 should be identified as potential criminals if they’re bullying other kids or have criminal parents, recommends a crime reduction report to British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Eighty-five percent of prisoners in UK juvenile detention facilities have histories of bullying in school, say researchers cited in the report, while 43 percent of male adult prisoners have children with criminal records.

“There is perhaps too much concern about the potential negative impacts of targeting on children and their families,” the report reads.

The document proposes parenting classes when a child is identified as a potential criminal and intensive foster care for children who are not “under control.” So-called “soft” measures — improving reading, language and social skills — are also recommended for “potential offenders” who are caught early enough, reports the London Times.

You’d think there would be a way to offer parenting help to the parents of out-of-control kids without tagging toddlers with a “potential criminal” label.

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  1. Hunter McDaniel says:

    Well then why don’t we go ahead and tag these kids the moment they are born? I suspect we can correlate later criminality with parental characteristics just as easily as with nursery school behavior.

    Just to be clear, I AM being facetious.

  2. Mr. Davis says:

    The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. I’ll bet they can determine who the mothers and fathers of these miscreants will be even before they finish high school. Sterilize them now and save us all a lot of trouble and expense.

    Me too.

    What kind of person wants to put a label like this on a three year old? The kind that isn’t being facetious.

  3. This isn’t an effective (much less ethical) way to stop bullying. Like the late unlamented “zero tolerance”, it criminalizes innocent kids, and has little effect on real bullies.

    A much better system, for older kids (not three year olds!) would be to identify the “natural leaders” and give them responsibilities equal to their privileges.

  4. lindenen says:

    If they can make this work, then it would be good. My sister’s a special ed teacher and she’s pretty much convinced one of her students is going to end up on death row. She’s been teaching for more than 2 decades and she’s never seen a kid like this. She wishes there was some sort of intervention system just short of getting the kid out of his home, but without actual evidence of abuse there’s really not much she can do on eway or another.

  5. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Planned Parenthood has these guys beat.

  6. Richard Nieporent says:

    Ninety-nine percent of prisoners in UK juvenile detention facilities have histories of drinking milk before the age of three! With such a high correlation, it is imperative that we do something about these potential offenders before it is too late.

    Too bad there wasn’t a criminal penalty for misusing statistics. If so, some of these researchers would be spending many years in gaol.

  7. elfcharm says:

    Thank you Richard, you saved me a lot of time.
    However, it is not really the case of a misused statistic,
    it’s The Case of the Missing Syllogism.
    dun dun dun…
    If some children are bullies
    and some bullies are criminals
    are some children criminals?
    or, to make Richard correct: 85% of prisoners in juvenile detention facilities have histories of bullying, yes, but what percentage of kids who bully are prisoners of juvenile detention facilities?

  8. Richard Nieporent says:

    Actually, elfcharm there are more that enough things to criticize this study for. However, what I was commenting on was the fact that correlation does not prove causation.

  9. elfcharm says:

    I know Richard, I was just being silly.
    yesterday was a good day =)
    Also, the correlation/causation question is precisely why I love syllogisms.

    Oh to happy summer days (even though in Monterey, I need to wear a coat.)