media) is associated with the child having poor health (Graham-Bermann & Seng,
2005) and with them being violent as an adult. We could do something about these
things but we dont, perhaps because we believe aggression is just human nature
and/or because we are angry and thus indifferent to stressed kids, especially if they
are of another race or a different economic or ethnic group. Also, our society is far
more insistent on punishing rather than preventing adolescent
violence/crime/misbehavior (another reflection of our own anger?).
Great atrocities are attributed to crazed men--Hitler, Stalin, terrorists, etc.
But, several psychological studies cited in this and the next chapter suggest
that ordinary people can rather easily become evil enough to discriminate
against, hurt, and brutalize others. Likewise, Goldhagen (1995) has
documented that ordinary Germans by the thousands rounded up and
executed millions of Jews. It isn't just the prejudiced and deranged that
brutalize. There is scary evidence that almost all of us might, under the right
conditions, develop a tolerance or a rationalization for injustice. Even the
most moral among us may look the other way (certainly the many murderers
in Germany and Russia talked to priests, ministers, town officials, etc.).
German doctors performed atrocious experiments in concentration camps.
Each of us strongly resist thinking of ourselves as potentially mean or bad,
yet there is evidence we can be persuaded to do awful things by leaders and
governments. Interestingly, we have little trouble believing that others are
bad and immoral. Storr (1994) attempts to explain intense human hatred and
cruelty to others, such as genocide and racial or religious conflict. Concerning
hatred, we are psychologically still in the dark ages.
The crime rate soars in the U.S. and our prisons overflow; infidelity and
spouse abuse are high; 1 in 5 women has been raped, 683,000 women were
raped in 1990 (30% were younger than 11!); our murder rate is several times
higher than most other countries. We are prejudiced. We distrust and dislike
others. Even within the family--supposedly our refuge, our safe place, our
source of love--there is much violence. Between 1/4 and 1/2 of all wives have
been physically battered which causes great psychological trauma too
(Goodman, Koss, & Russo, 1993). Physical fights have occurred within 12-
16% of all marriages during the last year. In 50% of these instances it is
mutual violence, i.e. both try to beat up on the other. But children 3 to 17 are
the most violent: 20% per year actually abuse their parents; 93-95% are a
"little physical" with parents. In addition, last year 10% of children were
dangerously and severely aggressive with siblings. Nearly one third of us fight
with our siblings. About 25% of all murders are by teenagers. There are 1.2
million cases of child abuse per year. Pogrebin (1983) even says we are a
child-hating society but that overlooks the vast majority of children who are
loved, even pampered.
One of the most appalling statistics is that among women who die while
pregnant or within one year of pregnancy, 30% are murdered (Chang, Berg,
Saltzman & Herndon, 2005). The percentage is a little higher in young teen
women (especially black) who have not gotten good prenatal care. A similar
study by The Washington Post found that 2/3rds of these murders involved
domestic violence. Many were slain at home by husbands, boyfriends, or
lovers. In spite of our TV preoccupation in early 2005 with the Laci Peterson
case, we arent doing much about helping women during this stressful period