Monday, October 12, 2009

From lollipops to jail time

A friend sent me a link to this Time article one day after I discovered that an easy way to get Owen to sleep in the car on a road trip (without having to listen to him fuss for 15 minutes first) is to hand him a lollipop around naptime and let him fall asleep with the thing dangling out of his mouth. Remove lollipop and sigh at the miracles of pacifying with candy.

I try to limit our consumption of candy to special occasions and to road trips that exceed an hour or so, when I definitely employ the occasional sweet as pacifier. (Usually it’s just to ward off excessive whining.) Doing it regularly though, is bad news, of course, and now there’s some research that says handing your kids candy on a daily basis is more likely to land them in jail.
The article cites Simon Moore, a senior lecturer in Violence and Society Research at Cardiff University in the U.K., who analyzed a long-term survey of 17,000 people born during a one-week period in April 1970.

Here’s an excerpt:

“That study included periodic evaluations of many different aspects of the growing children's lives, such as what they ate, certain health measures and socioeconomic status. Moore plumbed the data for information on kids' diet and their later behavior: at age 10, the children were asked how much candy they consumed, and at age 34, they were questioned about whether they had been convicted of a crime. Moore's analysis suggests a correlation: 69% of people who had been convicted of a violent act by age 34 reported eating candy almost every day as youngsters; 42% of people who had not been arrested for violent behavior reported the same. ‘Initially we thought this [effect] was probably due to something else,’ says Moore. ‘So we tried to control for parental permissiveness, economic status, whether the kids were urban or rural. But the result remained. We couldn't get rid of it. In other words, regardless of other environmental and lifestyle factors, like family-income level, parenting style or children's level of education, the data suggested it was only the frequency of confectionery consumption in childhood that strongly predicted adult violence. ‘ "

It’s not necessarily the sugar itself that’s eating away at the morality in kids’ minds, though. Moore hypothesizes that while nutritional intake may play some role, kids who get candy on a daily basis may not be learning to delay gratification, which may lead to poor impulse control in adulthood.

So there's a little piece of research to spook you just in time for Halloween.


hrgottlieb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Ha! This is funny, more expert "data." I remember trying to raise our first two young'uns for a few years based on the silly liberal nonsense in the child-rearing magazines. Things improved dramatically when we stop listening to the scientific experts and starting raising them (and the next one) based on good-old fashioned practices -- common sense, regular discipline, and occassional rewards and punishments, and of course, lots of love.