Approximately One Third of Americans are Arrested by Age 23 – and reflections on China’s “Wolf Dad”

Approximately One Third of Americans are Arrested by Age 23

A study by three university criminology professors came to the conclusion that by age 23, one-third or more of Americans are arrested. We are astounded.
PhDs from the criminology departments at the University of North Carolina, the University of Maryland, and the State University of New York, found that between 30 percent and 41 percent of young people undergo arrest between the ages of eight and 23. The results appeared in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
The results excluded arrests for minor traffic violations and the like. And we believe it is only fair to point out that arrest and guilt are two very different things, as any “Occupier” street demonstrator can point out.
But here is what is significant about this study. Since 1965, when the last similar study was done, arrests rates have increased significantly.
“At a minimum, being arrested for criminal activity signifies increased risk of unhealthy lifestyle, violence involvement, and violent victimization,” stated Dr. Robert Brame of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
 It is the intention of the researchers that these results can be applied to the treatment of patients for their benefit and the benefit of communities.
Bear in mind that at any time, one percent of adults in the United Sates lives in jail or prison. And as we point out in our book Enough of Us, “Think about it. At any one time approximately one of every 27 American adults lives in jail, in prison, on parole or on probation.” The new findings on young people do not bode well.
Add to these disturbing statistics that during the course of their lifetimes one of every 15 Americans (6.6 percent) will be incarcerated. And we would bet that almost everyone knows at least one person who might have been jailed if they hadn’t gotten away with unlawful activities.  And if you think we are referring mainly to poor people, we need only direct you to the corridors of high finance and all levels of government.
Here are some connections that should disturb any would-be parents. We do not feign conclude any scientific conclusions from these statistics, but they are enough to make us go, “Hmmm.”
• 14 percent of all men in prison in the USA were abused as children.
• 36 percent of all women in prison were abused as children.
• Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59 percent more likely to be arrested as juveniles, 28 percent more likely to be arrested as adults, and 30 percent more likely to commit violent crime.
The overriding problem is that many, if not most, parents who abuse their kids don’t even know they are doing it. They cannot distinguish the difference between discipline and abuse. An extreme example is China’s so-called Wolf Dad. Xiao Baiyou is the author of a best-selling book in China entitled Beat Them Into Peking University. This quote is from a recent National Public Radio report:

Wolf Dad Xiao Baiyou and his four kids. The eldest, his son, says he’s not even sure he had a childhood.

“’I have more than a thousand rules: specific detailed rules about how to hold your chopsticks and your bowl, how to pick up food, how to hold a cup, how to sleep, how to cover yourself with a quilt,” Xiao says. ‘If you don’t follow the rules, then I must beat you.’
“’For each violation of the rules, such as sleeping in the wrong position, the penalty is to be hit with a feather duster on the legs or the palm of the hand. If it doesn’t leave a mark, then it won’t make an impact,’ Xiao says.
“Never mind sleepovers, his kids weren’t even allowed friends. He started beating them when they were 3 years old, and stopped at age 12. ‘From three to 12, kids are mainly animals.’”
Xiao has easily eclipsed Yale professor Amy Chua, who gained notoriety as the super-strict “Tiger Mom.” They both believe in old-fashioned Chinese ways of raising kids. It is interesting to us that, with Xiao living in much-more-permissive Hong Kong, neither author seeks to live in “old fashioned” China. Our point is that lots of kids are abused. And when abusive parents think they are doing the right thing, they are usually not thinking about the happiness of the child. Or the consequences.
And that lends itself to the statistics at the top of our story.


  1. You have to wonder why we imprison so many people. In the last six years, California has has had as many as 6,2 per thousand of its citizens behind bars. Three Strikes and other sentencing laws have a lot to do with this. So while we can blame abusive parents, justifiably I’m sure, there also something rotten and excessively brutal in the public attitude here in California and elsewhere.

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