Friday, October 2, 2009

Humans Treat Their Children as Pets

Poodle Bitch was amused to read this Time article citing a study that suggests a link between eating candy as a child, and adult criminal behavior.

What parent hasn't used candy to pacify a cranky child or head off a brewing tantrum? When reasoning, threats and time-outs fail, a sugary treat often does the trick. But while that chocolate-covered balm may be highly effective in the short term, say British scientists, it may be setting youngsters up for problem behavior later. According to a new study, kids who eat too many treats at a young age risk becoming violent in adulthood.

Poodle Bitch is generally no fan of sugary treats (although she is intrigued by the idea of a "chocolate-covered balm"), but she does enjoy tomato slices and dried duck jerky treats, and she is not above admitting that she will stop at nothing to get them. She has learned that there are subtle manipulations in which she can engage, to alert nearby humans that she is ready for reward. Among these subtle manipulations: attentively watching humans eat, cuddling, sitting upon a human's lap, batting at them with her paw, rolling over onto her back to expose her provocative parts, and barking reminders of her existence.

She does love her tomato slices. She prefers they be no more than one-eighth of an inch thick, by the way.

But she was surprised-- although she's not altogether certain as to why she was surprised-- to see that humans did the same thing with their human offspring. Based on the first sentence of the story (as emphasized by Poodle Bitch above), it's apparently quite common for human parents to feed their children sweets in order to get them to, to use the popular terminology, shut up.

Perhaps this is one reason why there is such a childhood obesity "epidemic."

The present study, of course, suggests something perhaps even more sinister, at least to Poodle Bitch's admittedly canine eye.

The research was led by Simon Moore, a senior lecturer in Violence and Society Research at Cardiff University in the U.K., who specializes in the study of vulnerable youngsters.

Hmm. Poodle Bitch was under the impression that all youngsters were "vulnerable." She is growing more suspicious of this by the sentence. Perhaps things are different in the U.K. Perhaps only some youngsters are "vulnerable." The others have hard exoskeletons that protect them from the elements.

Moore turned to the British Cohort Study, a long-term survey of 17,000 people born during a one-week period in April 1970. 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."

Now, of course, Poodle Bitch has lost all interest in the "study" itself. Can you see why? Poodle Bitch notes that the "long-term survey" was on "many different aspects of the growing children's lives." It was not intended to be a study of any one specific lifestyle trend. A bunch of people have been asked a series of questions at various points in their lives. Now, people are interested in the nefarious influences of sugary treats on "vulnerable youngsters," so someone is looking specifically at that. We have no way of knowing how many of the 17,000 answered every question, and we have no way of knowing how many of those answered questions truthfully.

For instance, could it be that those who have been convicted of a violent act by age 34 were also capable of lying on their survey questions? Poodle Bitch wonders why it is that "scientists" would take violent people at their word. If they did not, then Poodle Bitch would like to know how it was that the scientists checked the veracity of every survey-taker's answers.

She hopes that the scientists had better things to do than find out whether the 69% of people convicted of a violent act by age 34 were lying about how much candy they ate when they were ten years old. Perhaps they were trying to figure out how to get the results of their meaningless study into Time magazine?

What is more alarming to Poodle Bitch is the casual, throw-away line that opens the article. She will copy and paste it again:

What parent hasn't used candy to pacify a cranky child or head off a brewing tantrum?

Poodle Bitch wonders why it is that the authors of the study and the article are trying to alarm human parents about the dangers that their spoiled and overweight children might become violent felons, when they should be trying to alarm human parents that their spoiled and overweight children are spoiled and overweight?

Isn't that enough?

Will Üter Zörker grow to be an even worse criminal than...

...Bart Simpson?

Üter Zörker photograph source.
Bart Simpson photograph source.

1 comment:

A.Jaye said...

I wasn't born in April 1970 and no one ever asked me how much 'candy' I ate as a kid.

Though I had my fair share of sweets.

TFi would like to inform Poodle Bitch - it's not the candy as a kid; it's the booze as an adult.

Everyone who's ever tried to hit me back on a Friday night in town has reeked of it.