The latest news and information from OXPIP can be found at www.oxpip.org.uk
OXPIP (the Oxford Parent-Infant Project) is a charity that makes a significant difference to the lives of many families. I was honoured to serve as Chairman of Trustees between 2001 and 2009, overseeing a prolonged period of growth for the charity. OXPIP is now at a stage where it is regularly mentioned by leading think tanks close to the policy making process, and has even appeared in parliamentary reports, specifically centering around the Childcare Bill.
OXPIP has existed since 1998 to ‘help Parents bond with their babies and thereby to promote lifelong emotional wellbeing'. Our results, evaluated by the University of Warwick, are exceptionally good.
But why is the work so important?
It is now believed that there are two very significant impacts on a baby if it does not have a positive relationship with its parent. These can do lifelong damage both to the baby's mental health and to its tendency to suffer physical illness.
The first impact is that a neglected baby has no means, by itself, to soothe its own feelings. It can only scream itself to a point of exhaustion, and then take refuge in sleep. Unchecked crying for hours will cause the baby's body to react by producing increased levels of Cortisol, the stress hormone. In excessive amounts this hormone actually damages the baby's immune system and destroys some of its brain cells.
The second impact, which is profound, is that when a baby is born, there is a part of its brain that is almost entirely undeveloped. This is the ‘social' part of the brain. It is the part that enables the growing baby/child and eventually adult to sustain relationships, to be emotionally secure, and to empathise with other people.
When a baby is in a ‘positive' relationship with its key carer, then this part of the baby's brain puts on a huge growth spurt when it is around 6 months old, until it is about 18 months old. If a baby has a negative or inconsistent relationship with the carer, then this part of the brain literally does not grow, and may never grow.
Research shows that a baby whose social brain does not develop, has a high likelihood, from a young age and throughout his or her life, to display anti-social behaviour, to be unable to regulate feelings of anger and/or depression, and to fail to build successful relationships.
In fact, the evidence is so compelling, that it is believed you can actually predict two thirds of later chronic criminality by behaviour being shown at kindergarten age.
What this research leads to is the conclusion that sociopaths are not born, but they are created by their earliest experiences. To put it another way, many of the people who will be abusing children, committing crimes, becoming addicted to drugs, and developing psychological problems in 15 years time are themselves being ill treated, neglected and abused right now.
The greatest tragedy of all is that those who failed to bond with their own parents are very unlikely to be able to form successful attachments with their own babies, so there is a cycle of misery passed down the generations.
OXPIP has three aims:
1. to provide therapeutic counselling for babies and their carers within the first two years of the baby's life
2. to provide training for health care and social services professionals on identifying and supporting the attachment process
3. to campaign for national recognition of the critical importance of early infant attachment.
I believe there are five key ways in which Government can support and promote a better society in Britain:
If you want any more information on OXPIP, you can find many more articles on the charity on this website, or visit them directly at http://oxpip.org.uk/.
(Photo courtesy of Dawn Mantas)
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I believe that the way to mend our broken society is by fundamentally changing the way we deal with the youngest in our society. We are all horrified by stories like Baby Peter, Victoria Climbie and countless other examples of murdered children.....murdered by those who should have loved and protected them. OXPIP saves lives and I would like to see early intervention to promote secure attachment available right across Britain.
RT @Telegraph: So called 'banter' is a threat to civilisation, says @tomchivers http://t.co/BTgc4DXXdx
10 hours ago
@AmateurMummy @NoMorePage3. Sorry for no reply - I'm looking into it and will email ASAP
10 hours ago