Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What "kind" of 2013 will we have?

Over the holidays, two things caught my attention in the news.
ABC announced that geneticists will study the DNA of Newtown shooter Adam Lanza.  This is a first in history where the intent is to look for gene mutations or abnormalities that are related to aggressive behaviour. Scientists also want to seek mutations that might be associated with mental illness.
Am I wrong, is this study not terribly misleading?  If Adam is found to have genetic mutations, does this then mean that all people with mental illness are violent?  We already know statistically that individuals having a mental illness are no more violent than the average person.  Indeed, people dealing with a mental illness are much more subject to being the victims of violence than the average person.  Is such a study another form of violence against individuals with a mental illness?
Where do we concentrate our efforts?  The second news article came from the University of British Columbia.  This study conducted on 9-11 year olds reported that doing small acts of kindness boosts children’s happiness and may help counteract bullying.  Go figure.  The recommendation: teachers can create a sense of connectedness in the classroom simply by asking students to think about how they can act kindly to others and that can reduce bullying.  Great.  But I wonder,  can we not all perform simple acts of kindness on a daily basis?  Can we model this as adults to our children?  Can we do this as families, not just simply in the classroom?  Can this be an informal lesson?
Can we spend our time, and reduce the dollars spent on studying genetics by just getting down to the business of being kind persons? Would this prevent the tragedy that happened?  Could we all enjoy better mental health by being kinder and putting others first?  What “kind” of 2013 will we have?


  1. Those kinds of DNA studies, it seems to me, ask all the wrong questions. Maybe they should start by asking how anyone - regardless of disability or difference - would develop under the constant fear of bullying and teasing. A study by MenCap in the UK showed that 70 percent of people with intellectual disabilities who live in the community experience fear of violence (social and otherwise) every day. Perhaps we want to scapegoat DND for the collective failure of society to act with compassion.

  2. Agreed Dave. I wasn't aware of MenCap, thanks. This article discusses in a bit further detail: