Letter of support from James Prescott, January 4, 1999

2636 Grand Avenue # 310
Ph. 619.581.6205 Fax: 619.839.3752

4 February 1999

Council Member Nathan Miley
One Frank Ogawa Plaza,
Oakland, CA 94612

Attn: F. Joseph DeVries, Aide
e-mailed to: fjdevries@oaklandnet.com.

Dear Council Member Miley,

As a concerned citizen and as a developmental neuropsychologist and cross-cultural psychologist, who has studied the origins of peaceful and violent behaviors for most of my professional life, I want to endorse the resolution submitted to the Oakland City Council by Jordan Riak, Director, Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE) which "declares that corporal punishment of children is not a recommended practice and the City encourages all of its residents to refrain from hitting their children", among its other provisions.

There is abundant scientific research that supports the damaging effects of corporal punishment upon children and that cultures which sanction violence against children are also low in nurturance of these children which translates into an adult culture characterized by high violence, warfare and alcoholism.

In brief, my studies were able to predict the peaceful or violent nature of 49 pre-industrial adult cultures with 80% accuracy based upon the degree of bonding between the mother and infant/child. Bonding is inversely related to the degree of physical pain and punishment inflicted upon the infant/child.

I am enclosing selected articles of this research for your review and additional information on the reciprocal relationship between violence and nurturance can be obtained from the following website: http://www.excelsior.org/~erik/violence

With respect to examining the degree of peace and violence in this country, I compared the 15 most violent States with the 15 least violent States, as measured by the 1996 rape rates for each State, as reported by the Uniform Crime Reports (FBI), October 4, 1997; and compared them as to whether they permitted or prohibited corporal punishment of schoolchildren, as listed by PTAVE at www.nospank.net

The results indicated a highly significant statistical relationship between state endorsed spanking of children and high rape rates of the individual states. States that support spanking of children have statistically significantly higher rape rates than those states that do not support spanking of children. In brief, 82% of high rape rate States were Paddle States; and 68% of low rape rate States were non-paddle states. The paddle states had 2.6 times as much "High Rape", as did the non-paddle states. Conversely, the non-paddle states had 3.8 times of the lowest rape rates than did the paddle states. See Table 1 (attached).

These results are consistent with a large body of scientific evidence, which documents that violence against children is reflected later in a violent adult society. If the city of Oakland seeks to reduce violence in its city, it must act to reduce violence against children and to promote positive physical affectional bonding with its children.

The City Council of Oakland is urged to adopt the PTAVE Resolution and to implement programs of positive parenting which must begin with affectional bonding between the mother and infant/child relationship. Breastfeeding for "two years of age and beyond", as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, is a powerful means to promote affectional bonding between mother and infant/child.

Your attention is drawn to the enclosed papers, which discusses the relationship between vital nutrients found in breastmilk but not in formula milk. These nutrients are essential for normal brain development, as well as normal development of the immunological competence of the infant/child. Specifically, the vital role of the precursor amino acid tryptophan is essential for normal development of brain serotonin and behavior. Many studies have shown that deficits of brain serotonin are highly linked to depression, impulse dyscontrol and violence (homicide and suicide). Tryptophan is absent in infant formula milk but richly present in colostrum and breastmilk.

There is probably good reason to understand why this nation is supporting over 600,000 annual prescriptions of the Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SRIs), e.g. Prozac, Paxtil, Zoloft, etc. to our children and youth. We must ask ourselves why our children and youth are so depressed and violent that they need these anti-depressant medications?

In this respect, the city of Oakland would benefit from promoting the incorporation of the recommendations and objectives of the California Department of Health Services Primary Care and Family Health, as stated in its publication "Breastfeeding: Investing In California's Future", Breastfeeding Promotion Committee Report, November 15, 1996 (contact: Lori Henkins, 916.928-0955).

I trust this letter with enclosures will be helpful to the City Council of Oakland, as it deliberates the value of supporting the PTAVE Resolution, and as it seeks programs of positive parenting to reduce the violence of Oakland. I would be pleased to offer additional information that you may require.


James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
Institute of Humanistic Science
cc: Jordan Riak
Director, PTAVE

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