America is becoming a ""breeding ground for psychopaths"" because, argue psychol, ogist Magid and journalist McKelvey, our...

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HIGH RISK: Children Without a Conscience

America is becoming a ""breeding ground for psychopaths"" because, argue psychol, ogist Magid and journalist McKelvey, our society has not developed a support system that permits today's radically changed families to provide the sustained, close, and loving nurture of infants that bonds parent and child. Without this vital socializing factor, children develop no concept of love or concern for others. Behind a deceptively charming facade, they become manipulative, incapable of sustained friendships, and often ""filled with hatred."" As parents, their neglect and abuse may produce yet another generation of psychopaths who will fill our jails and mental institutions. Because the US has no national maternity-leave policy, many new mothers must return to work before a new infant can be sufficiently bonded. Most must also rely on inadequate group-care facilities. Meanwhile, we have one of the world's highest teen-age pregnancy rates, a ""chaotic"" foster-care system, and an overly long adoption process. Magid and McKelvey contend that government must join with the private sector to provide paid maternity-leave of at least six months, early education in ""biological reproduction,"" easy teen-age access to contraceptives, more job-site day care; and an overhaul of foster-care and adoption systems. In short, ""our national spotlight should clearly be on the crib, not the criminal."" The authors' blizzard of studies, surveys, tables, and sensational tales of psychopathic violence doesn't quite screen the unoriginality of their basic thesis: that lack of love breeds hate. Still, the many bases they touch should make this book appealing to a wide audience, from scholars to crime-buffs, and may allow the authors' quite sound recommendations a large forum.

Pub Date: March 1, 1988

ISBN: 0553346679

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1988