Bad parenting can harm kids for life

The Australian 20 Mar 07
BAD parenting permanently damages the brains of infants, leaving primary schools unable to help them to develop, an early childhood expert has claimed. Canadian Fraser Mustard cited the latest research into the human genome to warn governments and parents to invest heavily in early childhood and parenting centres. Dr Mustard, a medical doctor who has specialised in childhood development, made the claims last night in a public lecture at the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, at the University of South Australia.”Gene structures are susceptible to nurture: touch, speech, movement, smell and so on,” Dr Mustard said. Genes for learning problems – and more serious problems such as depression and anti-social behaviour – could be turned on by bad early-childhood environments. But good environments could lead to genetic structures that were resilient and could “insure against” learning difficulties and more serious problems. “If you are brought up in a good environment, it largely doesn’t matter what genes are present,” he said.Dr Mustard said primary schools were largely unable to help children entering Year One to develop. “The schools cannot change the outcomes because the damage is already done in early childhood,” he said.,20867,21411726-2702,00.html