Natalie Lewis, Commissioner, Queensland Family and Child Commission
Source: The Guardian
Read time: 2.7 minutes
A commissioner with statutory oversight of government treatment of Australian children published an opinion piece on January 21, 2024 hinting that crime is caused by adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
Who Did This?
Natalia Lewis has been the appointed Commissioner of the Queensland Family and Child Commission since 2020. Her Commission, and other regional commissions, are charged with oversight of government treatment of children, including child protection services and justice. Like other woke progressives, she is known to list her pronouns and begin a presentation with a land acknowledgment.
For the juvenile justice system to be effective, we must recognize the rights of incarcerated youth, or as she calls them “young people in conflict with the law.” This includes believing that ACEs have a causal impact on criminal behavior.
Lewis demanded changes for the handling of incarcerated youth because the recidivism rate is 90% in Queensland. One part of her wide-ranging solution was to presume that children commit crimes because they are disadvantaged, which includes health problems, undiagnosed or inadequately supported disabilities, and experiencing ACEs. We must, therefore, provide them with “restitution, healing and rehabilitation.”
The central premise of the ACE theory is that psychological stress damages the brain, alters anatomical brain structures, and permanently disrupts hardwired neurocircuitry to cause a vast array of physical diseases and mental dysfunctions, including criminal acts. The research evidence, however, does not support this conclusion. Since Dr. Vincent Felitti’s initial 1998 ACE study, one hundred percent of the ACE studies that have been cited by activists are cross-sectional studies, which have zero power to make causal conclusions.
Why Is This Happening?
Her opinion was written to seize on a current controversy in Queensland (one of six Australian states with the population size of South Carolina) where juveniles are held in cells designed for adults, called watch houses, at police stations. Lewis seems to have viewed this as a crisis opportunity to promote broader ideological reforms.
Lewis, like thousands of others who have promoted the ACE theory before, did not provide details on how to prevent and/or remediate the impacts of ACEs. A common denominator to all of them, however, is to expand the role of government with taxpayer-funded entitlement programs for interventions with no evidence base. If this philosophy is followed, it seems unlikely that the Commission will facilitate approaches that might truly be helpful to this population.
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