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Meredith Wiley  

Headline stories on violent youth alarm Americans but leave us wondering how and why and what we can do to change the course.

Meredith S. Wiley, co-author of "Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence," offers a shocking but empowering message: To understand the tide of violent behavior, we must look earlier, before adolescence, before grade school, before preschool - to the cradle.

Wiley argues that the traditional explanations of the cause of violence, such as poverty, are simplistic and allow the rest of society to distance from the very intimate realities shaping children in homes of all classes.

In an effort to explore the seemingly unanswerable question - why do children kill and what can we do to keep this from happening - she weaves together numerous case studies, including death row interviews and stories of children in the news, with the newest scientific research from the fields of neurobiology and early brain development.

She presents voluminous and startling evidence that points to the earliest months of life as the time in which violent behavior is born and cultivated. Recent research shows that infancy is the stage during which the foundations for trust, empathy, conscience, and lifelong learning and thinking are laid down - or during which a predisposition to violent behavior is "hardwired" into the brain.

Wiley is the co-author of a chapter on media and mass communication strategies for children's advocates in "Reinventing Early Childhood Care and Education: A Vision for a Quality System."

She is a lawyer with extensive experience in elective and legislative politics. She holds a masters in public administration from the Kennedy School at Harvard University. Her specialty is in mass communications and message development. She served as a consultant to the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism on the development of the Prudential Fellowship Program for Children and the News. Currently living in Manhattan, she has three children and three grandchildren.

For anyone who ever wondered what they could do to make the world a more peaceful and civilized place, Wiley offers a remarkable and timely presentation.

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