Children who live in fear may eventually pose a threat to society. That’s a strong statement. Let me explain.
A child, for the most part, is born helpless. This child depends on caretakers to get his needs met. At any time that that system fails, fear settles in. The newborn has no mental ability to make sense of such a failure. The only conclusion can be that the infant feels innately bad. The emotional construct that develops is shame and it feels horrible!
If the caretaking system breaks down later in life, the brain will be more developed and might be able to make meaning, rather than shame, out of the experience. Humans are the most vulnerable from birth to age two or three and the least vulnerable in the teenage or adult years.
Children who have failed to deal with shame may feel intense fear and possibly rage at the slightest provocation. Loving caretakers help normal toddlers deal with their normal rage until they gain the ability to get it under control themselves.
Those children who have nobody to calm them experience the growth of shame and, therefore, the growth of fear and rage. Children who have been neglected, abused, or abandoned may carry this intense shame, fear, and rage with them.
Proper therapy and proper parenting or re-parenting (as in foster or adoptive parenting) techniques help a hurt child make sense of what has happened to her. Eventually, the shame makes less and less sense and she will let all or some of it go.
Children who live with unrelieved shame, rage and fear can become angry teenagers and young adults who do the unthinkable – like open fire in shopping malls or classrooms. If someone is involved in the care or education of a child who rages and is no longer a toddler, help is available.