The best bunny book since Watership Down is The Rabbit Effect by Dr Kelli Harding, based on epidemiological studies on rabbits back in the 70s.
It recounts how researchers were investigating various determinants of ill-health using hapless bunnies as guinea pigs, but results from one coterie of lab rabbits bucked negative health outcomes exhibited by the others.
Despite all being subject to the same conditions and experiments, this bunch of bunnies was doing nicely.
After much head-scratching, the only point of difference detectable was that the rabbits in question had been supervised by one particular researcher.
And that researcher had – wait for it – been kind to her bunnies.
She had handled, petted, and generally interacted with and nurtured them despite the situation.
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Subsequent trials reaffirmed the phenomenon. The rabbits had reciprocated by staying healthy.
Social scientists seemed to take their time in further pursuing this singular finding, but Harding finally did.
Applying the proposition to wider human society produced more or less the same results, to wit: positive, supportive, kindly social relationships play a major role in human health – often trumping what were previously thought to be other major determinants such as nutrition, exercise, genes, and such.
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What's more, best results came from when the kindness permeated all arenas of child activity, from the home to school to neighbourhood to whatever.
Gee. This is pretty major stuff.
It even seems to suggest that cheesy old prescriptions like the do-unto-others Golden Rule have been on the money all along.
Our current Prime Minister has made a point of calling for more of the kind both in politics and beyond – despite the hiss and spit of argy-bargy politics always enjoying better ratings.
But citizens of a certain age lament the loss of what was considered a more caring, sharing society of a few generations ago: a sort of archetypal laid-back inclusive Kiwi way of life now in short supply.
The official figures seem to back up the notion.
Yes, there was less crime - particularly violent crime; and yes, mostly you actually could go and out and not bother to lock the door.
These were major considerations in feeling safe and secure in your own home and neighbourhood.
What's changed, or perhaps more pertinently, what's made it change? As well as increased crime, a creeping meanness seems to be infecting the national psyche.
People point to increased social inequality.
But apart from a couple of halcyon more egalitarian generations, wide inequality was the norm.
Others cite poverty.
By definition, there's always relative poverty, but in absolute poverty terms there's no comparison between, say, a century ago, and now. Health care and schooling? Ditto.
There's no doubt the proliferation of certain drugs is a major factor.
Despite the hysteria, casualty rates from the previously most common illegal substances like cannabis, heroin, psychedelics and dance pills were relatively low.
The legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco – and now opioids - have been, and still are, the major killers. Alcohol particularly remains a chronic catalyst in social violence.
But the street derivatives such as crack cocaine, meth ("P") and synthetics have created a whole new ball game.
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When crack hit New York City in the 1980s it was accompanied by a quantum leap in child abuse, family breakdown, police and gang killings, and community intimidation.
In 1989, authorities estimated that virtually half of all fatally battered kids in the city had crack-using parents.
Where American culture goes, we're never far behind.
Meth and synthetics have become national scourges, with their particular propensity to fry the brain decimating families and creating multiple behavioural issues impacting all levels from pre-school to adulthood.
And the key dysfunctions seem to derive from not only family breakdown but proliferation of a poverty of spirit that's killing good old homespun basic kindness.
Like the bunnies, kids need to feel the love - or else they're tomorrow's statistics.
•Frank Greenall is a Whanganui based commentator.