Do Peaceful Childhoods Create a Peaceful World?
Loving, compassionate care during early development has been shown to yield happier, more productive children. A partnership between Yale University researchers and UNICEF is working to show that peaceful families ripple out to create a more peaceful world.
Lessons from the work could use scientific findings on early childhood development “to guide actions that could potentially impact the lives of millions of children around the world,” project organizers wrote.
The Fetzer Institute is partnering with Yale, the Early Childhood Development unit of UNICEF, and the Mother Child Education Foundation to extend and amplify scientific knowledge and evidence relevant to love and forgiveness in hopes of making families and communities the agents of peaceful change.
To support this theory, four Yale Child Study Center researchers presented scientific evidence at a Sept. 9 United Nations luncheon showing that early development for children can be a transformative solution for promoting peace.
“The relationship of early childhood development to peace is a promising area for further research,” said Dr. James Leckman, the Neison Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Psychology & Pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine. “There is compelling evidence that if you intervene early and alter caregiving, there are lasting effects on not only the child, but the family, community and that child’s interactions with others later in life.”
Project researchers are working to show that love, forgiveness and peace are synergistic – meaning their presence can have a tangible impact or a “butterfly effect” on the others. The reverse is also true -- violence at home impairs children’s ability to trust and to love later on as adults; a community beleaguered by conflict is toxic for their growth.
On the individual level, the team plans to bring to bear the latest findings from neuroscience research on the complex system that influence our relationships and to highlight how our choices and habits are passed on genetically to subsequent generations.
The program’s findings will be publicized via a well-maintained, politically neutral web portal that can be shared widely via social media.
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on the Natural Sciences.