Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Study: fathers are important for the development of children’s brains

Fathers and children

Fathers and children

The study was reported in the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Dr. Braun’s group found that at 21 days, the fatherless animals had less dense dendritic spines compared to animals raised by both parents, though they “caught up” by day 90. However, the length of some types of dendrites was significantly shorter in some parts of the brain, even in adulthood, in fatherless animals.

“It just shows that parents are leaving footprints on the brain of their kids,” says Dr. Braun, 54 years old.

The neuronal differences were observed in a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is related to emotional responses and fear, and the orbitofrontal cortex, or OFC, the brain’s decision-making center.

[…]The balance between these two brain parts is critical to normal emotional and cognitive functioning, according to Dr. Braun. If the OFC isn’t active, the amygdala “goes crazy, like a horse without a rider,” she says. In the case of the fatherless pups, there were fewer dendritic spines in the OFC, while the dendrite trees in the amygdala grew more and longer branches.

A preliminary analysis of the degus’ behavior showed that fatherless animals seemed to have a lack of impulse control, Dr. Braun says. And, when they played with siblings, they engaged in more play-fighting or aggressive behavior.

In a separate study in Dr. Braun’s lab conducted by post-doctoral researcher Joerg Bock, degu pups were removed from their caregivers for one hour a day. Just this small amount of stress leads the pups to exhibit more hyperactive behaviors and less focused attention, compared to those who aren’t separated, Dr. Braun says. They also exhibit changes in their brain.

The basic wiring between the brain regions in the degus is the same as in humans, and the nerve cells are identical in their function. “So on that level we can assume that what happens in the animal’s brain when it’s raised in an impoverished environment … should be very similar to what happens in our children’s brain,” Dr. Braun says.

Read the whole thing.

I think this is important because we hear so much today that marriage can be redefined, that having one of each parent doesn’t matter, that live-in boyfriends and stepfathers have the same motivation to care for a woman’s children as the biological father does. We don’t want to make judgments, even if setting boundaries is better for children. A child’s well-being is enormously affected by the woman’s choice of biological father.  You can’t have it both ways – either we are going to judge women who choose men who don’t have the desire to commit to marriage, and do the father role, OR we are going to take things away from children by encouraging women to choose men based on “feelings” instead of abilities. Lowering moral standards and removing moral obligations hurts children. It sounds so nice when we tell women, “you can do whatever you feel like, and just forget about responsibilities, expectations and obligations”, but letting women be guided by their feelings harms children. My stock broker makes me feel uncomfortable because he knows more than I do, and does not respect my opinion. But I pay him to make investment decisions for me. I mustn’t let my pride get in the way of letting him do his job – a job he is more qualified than I am to do. Let him do his job.

Here’s a related question: Are biological fathers or unrelated men more dangerous for children?

This article from the Weekly Standard answers the question.

Excerpt:

A March 1996 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics contains some interesting findings that indicate just how widespread the problem may be. In a nationally representative survey of state prisoners jailed for assaults against or murders of children, fully one-half of respondents reported the victim was a friend, acquaintance, or relative other than offspring. (All but 3 percent of those who committed violent crimes against children were men.) A close relationship between victim and victimizer is also suggested by the fact that three-quarters of all the crimes occurred in either the perpetrator’s home or the victim’s.

A 1994 paper published in the Journal of Comparative Family Studies looked at 32,000 documented cases of child abuse. Of the victims, only 28 percent lived with both biological parents (far fewer than the 68 percent of all children who live with both parents); 44 percent lived with their mother only (as do 25 percent of all children); and 18 percent lived with their mother and an unrelated adult (double the 9 percent of all children who live with their mother and an unrelated adult).

These findings mirror a 1993 British study by the Family Education Trust, which meticulously explored the relationship between family structure and child abuse. Using data on documented cases of abuse in Britain between 1982 and 1988, the report found a high correlation between child abuse and the marital status of the parents.

Specifically, the British study found that the incidence of abuse was an astounding 33 times higher in homes where the mother was cohabiting with an unrelated boyfriend than in stable nuclear families. Even when the boyfriend was the children’s biological father, the chances of abuse were twice as high.

These findings are consonant with those published a year earlier by Leslie Margolin of the University of Iowa in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect. Prof. Margolin found that boyfriends were 27 times more likely than natural parents to abuse a child. The next-riskiest group, siblings, were only twice as likely as parents to abuse a child.

More recently, a report by Dr. Michael Stiffman presented at the latest meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in October, studied the 175 Missouri children under the age of 5 who were murdered between 1992 and 1994. It found that the risk of a child’s dying at the hands of an adult living in the child’s own household was eight times higher if the adult was biologically unrelated.

The Heritage Foundation’s Patrick Fagan discovered that the number of child-abuse cases appeared to rise in the 1980s along with the general societal acceptance of cohabitation before, or instead of, marriage. That runs counter to the radical-feminist view, which holds that marriage is an oppressive male institution of which violence is an integral feature. If that were true, then child abuse and domestic violence should have decreased along with the rise in cohabitation.

Heritage also found that in the case of very poor children (those in households earning less than $ 15,000 per year), 75 percent lived in a household where the biological father was absent. And 50 percent of adults with less than a high-school education lived in cohabitation arrangements. “This mix — poverty, lack of education, children, and cohabitation — is an incubator for violence,” Fagan says.

Why, then, do we ignore the problem? Fagan has a theory: “It is extremely politically incorrect to suggest that living together might not be the best living arrangement.”

The moral of the story is that it is a lot safer for children if we promote marriage as a way of attaching mothers and fathers to their children. Fathers who have a biological connection to children are a lot less likely to harm them. We should probably be teaching women to choose men who have a certain tenderness towards people they mentor or nurture, as well. These things are not free, you have to persuade women to value the male tendency to want to lead / guide / mentor. A lot of social problems like child poverty, promiscuity and violence cannot be solved by replacing a father with a check from the government. We need to support fathers by empowering them in their traditional roles. Let the men lead. Swallow your feminist instincts, and prefer men who take seriously their role of leading others upward.

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Why is it so hard for young people to find a job?

Young people have a sense of entitlement

Young people have a sense of entitlement

Bloomberg News discusses the “Professionalism in the Workplace” survey of human resources specialists from York College of Pennsylvania.

Forty-nine percent of [those surveyed] stated that less than half of new employees “exhibit professionalism in their first year.” More than half (53 percent) have noticed “a sense of entitlement” rising among younger workers; almost 45 percent have seen a “worsening of the work ethic,” including “too casual of an attitude toward work” and “not understanding what hard work is.”

Younger workers believe they can multitask and remain productive, the human-resources people told the York researchers. Thirty-eight percent of respondents blamed multitasking for the lack of “focus” among younger workers. The authors of the study explained that the younger generation “believes that it is possible to multi-task effectively” and that using social media, for example, is an efficient way to communicate. In interviews, the applicants check their phones for texts and calls, dress inappropriately and overrate their talents.

“The sad fact is some of these persons probably do not understand what is wrong with this,” the authors note.

Older workers have always complained about younger workers, of course, but there’s a difference: This time they attribute the youthful flaws not to ignorance or waywardness, but to a “sense of entitlement.”

We might forgive 18-year-olds fresh out of high school for lacking employability skills (the manufacturing sector hires many workers lacking undergraduate degrees). But when he or she reaches 23 and has four years of college, employers expect a white-collar worker to recognize basic norms of dress and deportment.

What happened in college, then? The survey by York College’s Center for Professional Excellence assigns colleges part of the blame, observing that letting students miss deadlines without penalty and assigning good grades for middling work only make them form the wrong expectations.

Meanwhile, the UK Daily Mail had the results from a 2013 survey:

Young people’s unprecedented level of self-infatuation was revealed in a new analysis of the American Freshman Survey, which has been asking students to rate themselves compared to their peers since 1966.

Roughly 9 million young people have taken the survey over the last 47 years.

Psychologist Jean Twenge and her colleagues compiled the data and found that over the last four decades there’s been a dramatic rise in the number of students who describe themselves as being ‘above average’ in the areas of academic ability, drive to achieve, mathematical ability, and self-confidence.

But in appraising the traits that are considered less invidualistic – co-operativeness, understanding others, and spirituality – the numbers either stayed at slightly decreased over the same period.

Researchers also found a disconnect between the student’s opinions of themselves and actual ability.

While students are much more likely to call themselves gifted in writing abilities, objective test scores actually show that their writing abilities are far less than those of their 1960s counterparts.

Also on the decline is the amount of time spent studying, with little more than a third of students saying they study for six or more hours a week compared to almost half of all students claiming the same in the late 1980s.

Though they may work less, the number that said they had a drive to succeed rose sharply.

[…]Twenge is the author of a separate study showing a 30 per cent increase towards narcissism in students since 1979.

‘Our culture used to encourage modesty and humility and not bragging about yourself,’ Twenge told BBC News. ‘It was considered a bad thing to be seen as conceited or full of yourself.’

Just because someone has high self-esteem doesn’t mean they’re a narcissist. Positive self-assessments can not only be harmless but completely true.

However, one in four recent students responded to a questionnaire called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory with results pointing towards narcissistic self-assessments.

Narcissism is defined as excessive self-love or vanity; self-admiration, or being self-centered.

Twenge said that’s a trait that is often negative and destructive, and blames its boom on several trends – including parenting styles, celebrity culture, social media, and easy credit – for allowing people to seem more successful than they really are.

I think what I am seeing is that not only do they work less, but they work at things they “like”, rather than at things that will allow them to provide value to others. So, you’re not going to find a lot of computer programmers or petroleum engineers among young Americans, but you will find a lot of people gravitating to jobs that are easy that make them feel good about themselves, and look good to other people, too.

Obviously, there are policy reasons for youth unemployment being so high, but I think this attitude that young people have is definitely part of it.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why is college so expensive? Why does university tuition cost so much?

The correct answer appeared in the radically leftist New York Times, of all places.

This is by Paul F. Campos, law professor at the radically leftist UC Boulder.

He writes:

[P]ublic investment in higher education in America is vastly larger today, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was during the supposed golden age of public funding in the 1960s. Such spending has increased at a much faster rate than government spending in general. For example, the military’s budget is about 1.8 times higher today than it was in 1960, while legislative appropriations to higher education are more than 10 times higher.

In other words, far from being caused by funding cuts, the astonishing rise in college tuition correlates closely with a huge increase in public subsidies for higher education. If over the past three decades car prices had gone up as fast as tuition, the average new car would cost more than $80,000.

Some of this increased spending in education has been driven by a sharp rise in the percentage of Americans who go to college. While the college-age population has not increased since the tail end of the baby boom, the percentage of the population enrolled in college has risen significantly, especially in the last 20 years. Enrollment in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs has increased by almost 50 percent since 1995. As a consequence, while state legislative appropriations for higher education have risen much faster than inflation, total state appropriations per student are somewhat lower than they were at their peak in 1990. (Appropriations per student are much higher now than they were in the 1960s and 1970s, when tuition was a small fraction of what it is today.)

As the baby boomers reached college age, state appropriations to higher education skyrocketed, increasing more than fourfold in today’s dollars, from $11.1 billion in 1960 to $48.2 billion in 1975. By 1980, state funding for higher education had increased a mind-boggling 390 percent in real terms over the previous 20 years. This tsunami of public money did not reduce tuition: quite the contrary.

[…]State appropriations reached a record inflation-adjusted high of $86.6 billion in 2009. They declined as a consequence of the Great Recession, but have since risen to $81 billion. And these totals do not include the enormous expansion of the federal Pell Grant program, which has grown, in today’s dollars, to $34.3 billion per year from $10.3 billion in 2000.

The more money that is attached to students, the more money universities charge – simple.

But where is the money going? Is it mostly going to research? To the classroom? To hire more and better professors?

No:

Interestingly, increased spending has not been going into the pockets of the typical professor. Salaries of full-time faculty members are, on average, barely higher than they were in 1970. Moreover, while 45 years ago 78 percent of college and university professors were full time, today half of postsecondary faculty members are lower-paid part-time employees, meaning that the average salaries of the people who do the teaching in American higher education are actually quite a bit lower than they were in 1970.

By contrast, a major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.

Even more strikingly, an analysis by a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, found that, while the total number of full-time faculty members in the C.S.U. system grew from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, the total number of administrators grew from 3,800 to 12,183 — a 221 percent increase.

If you’re going to college or trade school, go to a low-cost school. Do a STEM degree or do a trade that pays well. Try to get tuition assistance even if it means going to a less prestigious school. And work at every opportunity you get in the most serious job you can find. Don’t spend your money – save it. Especially don’t spend your money on fun, vacations and alcohol. As soon as you grow up, you’re going to wish you could have it all back.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , ,

New study: record high 30.3 percent of millenials live with a parent

Those on the left assure us that the secret to creating more jobs is making it easier for more people to go to college. We have to keep taxing job creators and workers, they say, so that we can pay for more people to get a college indoctrination. I mean education! Well, we have been trying that approach for some time – tax the private sector, make it cheaper for people to go to college. And the result is that we now have a record high number of young adults with college degrees, and a record high number of young adults living in poverty and a record high number of young adults living at home.

The article from Campus Reform tells us where we are now.

They write:

An all-time high of 30.3 percent of millennials are living with a parent, according to data released from the U.S. Census Bureau’s study, “Young Adults: Then and Now.”

The study, released Dec., 4, 2014, and tracks the young adult population from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 Censuses and the 2009-2013 American Community Survey, gathering data about salary, education level, transportation habits, and more than 40 other topics.

Millennials are living at home, and more are living in poverty with lower rates of employment than their predecessors.

According to the report, millennials are more likely to live at home than any other generation of young adults. In 1980, 22.9 percent of young adults lived with a parent, while in 1990 the percentage increased to 24.2 percent. In 2000, the percentage decreased to 23.2 percent, but by 2013 it hit a record-level by jumping more than 7 percentage points.

Millennials are living at home, and more are living in poverty with lower rates of employment than their predecessors. According to the study, one in five young adults live in poverty, up from one in seven in 1980. Currently, the study claims 65 percent of millennials are employed compared to the 1980 number of 69 percent.

Yet, 22 percent of young adults have a college degree, compared to only 16 percent in 1980.

The troubling thing about this for me is how much millenials keep voting, again and again, for higher taxes and more regulations. On the one hand, they want to vote against evil corporations. Tax them more! Regulate them, to save the planet! Then, a split-second later, they go and ask these corporations that they’ve been taught to bash for work. There is work for them, all right – in other countries with lower taxes and less regulation.

Anyway, we want to be positive, so again, I’m going to provide people with useful information.

First, study STEM programs:

  1. Petroleum Engineering – Starting Salary: $103,000 / Mid-Career Salary: $160,000
  2. Actuarial Mathematics – Starting Salary: $58,700 / Mid-Career Salary: $120,000
  3. Nuclear Engineering – Starting Salary: $67,600 / Mid-Career Salary: $117,000
  4. Chemical Engineering – Starting Salary: $68,200 / Mid-Career Salary: $115,000
  5. Aerospace Engineering – Starting Salary: $62,800 / Mid-Career Salary: $109,000
  6. Electrical Engineering – Starting Salary: $64,300 / Mid-Career Salary: $106,000
  7. Computer Engineering – Starting Salary: $65,300 / Mid-Career Salary: $106,000
  8. Computer Science – Starting Salary: $59,800 / Mid-Career Salary: $102,000
  9. Physics – Starting Salary: $53,100 / Mid-Career Salary: $101,000
  10. Mechanical Engineering – Starting Salary: $60,900 / Mid-Career Salary: $99,700

And you should also start investing early, and keep investing:

The good news is there are now more millionaires than ever. But when it comes to retirement, is a million dollars enough?

“If they want to be financially independent, retire at 65 and be able to have an income of $40,000 a year in retirement for 30 years, then it’s likely that they’re going to need a million dollars to retire to generate that lifestyle,” said Bruce Allen, an independent wealth advisor.

Living comfortably on $40,000 a year in retirement, which would require a $1 million nest egg by the time you reach the retirement age, will depend on your expenses, investment returns and health-care costs.

[…]Many retirees make it work with less. According to Census data, the median household income for those 65 and older is $34,000, but that’s almost half the $66,000 for ages 55 to 64. In order to preserve that preretirement standard of living, financial experts say you’ll need more than a million dollars.

And the last piece of advice I would be this – if you are a young person, you should be looking into understanding how to save and invest, and you should be reading unbiased financial news. It’s not enough to hope that the government is going to bail you out. In all likelihood, the government will be coming to you in 15 years, looking for you to bail them out of their obligations to pay the pensions and health care costs of retirees. You should not take pride in being ignorant of economics and politics. This is your problem. Wishing and hoping that things will be OK will not make these challenges go away. Just because your friends, your favorite musicians, your favorite authors, your co-workers, etc. are not talking about these issues to you, it does not mean that these challenges don’t apply to you. They do apply to you. And just getting good grades now is NOT a guarantee that you will be OK later. You’re going to be expected to do more with less in a way that your parents never had to do. They are leaving you a worse financial world than they received.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , ,

Should young people vote for Democrats?

Jennifer Kabbany describes what young people got from their vote for Democrats over at the College Fix.

She writes:

Young America’s Foundation released its annual “Youth Misery Index” findings today, and the news is not good for young people – the index has hit an all-time record high.

The foundation calculates the index by adding youth unemployment, student loan debt, and national debt (per capita) figures, and it found “young people are experiencing hardships like never before under the Obama administration, and this generation is especially suffering the consequences of this administration’s leftist policies.”

For 2014, youth unemployment sat at 18.1 percent, student loan debt came in at $30,000, and national debt per capita was the highest ever at $58,437. The foundation tallied that all up for a Youth Misery Index of 106.5. That’s far above the 2013 figure of 98.6, when the foundation added 16.3, which represented youth unemployment, with 29.4 – the average 4-year college loan debt – and 52.9, each person’s national debt burden.

“The government is largely responsible for all three problems, and we’ve found a statistically significant relationship between government expenditures and the Youth Misery Index,” the foundation states. “Each indicator can be tied to government actions.”

While the index has steadily grown over the decades, under Obama the figure has shot up dramatically.

In 2012 it was 95.1, and the year before that 90.6. When Obama first took office in 2009, it was 83.5. When President George Bush left office in 2008 – the index was 69.3. When the figure debuted in 1993, it came in at 53.1.

“Young people will be stuck paying for government debt they had no part in creating, and they’ll have to do it with less discretionary income than ever before because of record high levels of student loan debt,” the foundation stated.

If interest rates go up, it will get even worse. Interest on loans will make it harder for them to buy houses and cars. Their students loans will cost more. And the government will have to dedicate a lot more money to making payments on the national debt – leaving less money for other expenditures. Taxes might have to go up to pay for the payments on the debt. Whether they raised income, sales or property taxes, it’s bad news for young people trying to get on with their lives.

Filed under: News, , , , , ,

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