There should be a clear recognition that the only meaningful measure of success in child rearing is an adult with highly developed capacities for trust, empathy, and affection. It follows that the current worship of child rearing practices that evoke the highest possible I.Q., or the child with the greatest possible number of factual crumbs by the lowest age, or the child who can play the cello best at the earliest age should be suspect. How Do We Prevent Crime?, Dr Elliott Barker, the Natural Child Project
The question is not whether we believe (as I do) that we can reduce crime and other social pathologies by taking Dr Barker seriously but whether people have sufficient incentive to investigate how valid his argument is and then to act on their research. I don't think they do. Crime is today largely seen as a matter for policing and punishment. There may or may not be academic research pointing the validity of Dr Barker's arguments. But even if there is, who has the incentive to examine this research, check its validity and act on the results? Very few, and almost nobody with the financial clout to influence the way we bring up our children. Of course, there is good work being done by people such as Dr Barker, and eventually some of their findings do percolate through to a few dedicated researchers and parents. But work on the scale necessary to see widespread changes? The bodies, including government, that could fund such work are far too focused on the short term. And who thinks long term these days?
Social Policy Bonds targeting crime could be one answer. Under a bond regime, we could target a long-term halving of crime rates, sustained for a period of, say, thirty years. A combination of government, NGOs and philanthropists could back these bonds, which could be swelled by public contributions. Once issued, bondholders would form a de facto coalition, whose composition would most probably change over time, but all of whose activities would be aimed at achieving the targeted reduction in crime rates at lowest cost to society.
Long-term thinking and the notion of a coherent society that persists over decades: any attempt to improve social welfare and the environment requires both these qualities. They're not at all prevalent but policies like Social Policy Bonds that need them to work can also create and encourage their proliferation.