IN the climate of panic that serves only the security industry and further erosion of democratic freedoms, we are being told that those held in connection with – not yet tried or convicted – the most recent act of terrorism in London, were also in foster care. I expect they used toothbrushes, drank Coca-Cola and wore training shoes on a daily basis too.

I am not being flippant. Any act of violence is an outrage against human life, committed by people who are also people. Families will be devastated by loss of life and loss of trust. Foster care services and foster carers will be feeling the heat exactly as I am doing, as a foster carer myself.

That is the point. It’s called scapegoating. To create a climate in which doubt, self-loathing, humiliation and guilt take the place of careful analysis, logical weighing of evidence and instead manufacture false villains whose destruction is thought to assure security.

It never works.

I’m asked all the time why I think it’s OK to foster people from other countries and not look after “our own”. These are “our own” under international law and other protections, but quite frankly such logical chopping always reveals the most about those asking the question.

Now I’m also being asked why I am fostering terrorists.

Social scientists and scientists, especially those charged with proving such links, take years to come up with evidence which passes the rigorous standards of peer review, random control trial or qualitative interpretation of empirical work.

In the sensationalist, fearmongering press, and the race to meet a deadline, no such evidence can be brought to bear. The public verdict is delivered well before anything might even come to trial.

In 2016, when the burkini ban farce was unfolding in France, a letter to The Guardian pointed out, essentially, that a good deal more violence had been committed by men in suits than women in burkinis. The point was well made but needs making again. The most dangerous people in the world today are those who have stated that they are prepared to use nuclear weapons – the President of the United States of America; the President of North Korea and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

There are other questions we might ask: in what ways could the experience of being raised in a biological family lead to willingness to lead the world in the arms trade or impose a refugee travel ban, or sanction the continuation of detention without a time limit?

Has anyone made the equally spurious link between all the leaders who weren’t fostered and their readiness to continually let thousands of people drown in the Mediterranean, or encourage refoulement to Libya? What about the link to white evangelical Christianity and white supremacy in the US?

Research has been undertaken and demonstrated that there is a clear link between pathological emotional regression and the “hot house” environment of British boarding schools. If you want people who are more likely, research shows, to make decisions which would lead to catastrophic events for the sake of fragile egos, then send them to boarding schools.

My point is that the villains are not foster carers or children, any more than they are mothers and fathers, or for that matter “all politicians”, or “all leaders”. In law, individuals will be tried and a verdict will be reached, and at that point we can ask some searching and difficult questions about why it is that “hurt people will as likely as not hurt people”.

Shame and humiliation and damage to ego – sometimes in childhood, sometimes in adulthood – leave such profound wounds that people, if given the opportunity, might literally slaughter thousands, even millions, to save face, be proved “right” and retain power.

For the most part, the jury is out: the societal consequences of violence and abuse and of the systematic stripping of dignity which some people experience can be drivers to more violence, but equally inspiring are the occasions when it is not.

This is an area truly in need of consideration in these days where courage and hope sometimes seem to be in short supply.

Why do people attend to the good, even when the hurt inside them might scream out to them to wound and maim and slaughter?

Can we please, for the sake of our humanity, slow things down a wee bit, let justice do her vital work, let researchers ask the questions and look for the answers, and accept that they will be complex and ambivalent. Scapegoating always ends in more tears.

Alison Phipps is Unesco Professor for Refugee Integration Through Languages and the Arts at the University of Glasgow