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Headline stories on violent youth alarm Americans but leave us wondering how and why and what we can do to change the course. Robin Karr-Morse, co-author of Ghosts From the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence offers a shocking but empowering message: To understand the tide of violent behavior, we must look earlier, before adolescence, before grade school, before preschool - to the cradle.
Karr-Morse argues that the traditional explanations of the cause of violence, such as poverty, are simplistic and allow the rest of society to distance itself from the very intimate realities shaping children in homes of all classes. In an effort to explore the seemingly unanswerable question - why do children kill and what can we do to keep this from happening - she weaves together numerous case studies, including death row interviews and stories of children in the news, with the newest scientific research from the fields of neurobiology and early brain development.
She presents voluminous and startling evidence that points to the earliest months of life as the time in which violent behavior is born and cultivated. Recent research shows that infancy is the stage during which the foundations for trust, empathy, conscience, and lifelong learning and thinking are laid down - or during which a predisposition to violent behavior is "hardwired" into the brain.
Karr-Morse is a veteran of both child welfare and public education systems in Oregon. Formerly the Director of Parent Training for the Oregon child welfare system, she has designed and administered three statewide programs for families with children, including one focusing on pre-parenting in high schools, one on teen parents and one on families reported for abuse and neglect. She was the first executive director of the Oregon Children's Trust fund, a major public effort to prevent child abuse statewide. Karr-Morse was consultant to Dr. T. Berry Brazelton's Touchpoints Program and is a lecturer on the Brazelton Seminar Faculty. Recently, Karr-Morse has worked with county, state and national officials to create social policies which support families in monitoring the earliest development to prevent delinquency and school failure.
She is currently a family therapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon where she lives with her husband and the youngest of her four children. Karr-Morse is a parent, adoptive parent, stepparent, formerly a foster parent and a grandmother to four-year-old Emily.
For anyone who ever wondered what they could do to make the world a more peaceful and civilized place, Karr-Morse offers a remarkable and timely presentation.
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