Kids who Kill
No one wants to believe their child, or any child for that matter, could kill. Who are the “kids who kill”? Are they all abused and neglected children who came from homes of poverty? Or are they rich, bored kids, with nothing better to do? Fact…they could be any child, yours, the neighbors, a friends, rich, poor, loved, nurtured, the child with everything.
One factor behind child murderers is violent television shows and games. “Thirty years of scientific studies support the fact that violent programs desensitize children to violence. While the murder rate doubled between 1957 and 1992, the aggravated assault rate—the rate at which people are attempting to maim or kill one another – has multiplied many times more” (Ramsland, 2014).
This is not to say that television shows and games are the only culprit behind the increase, however, it does suggest that children who watch the shows and participate in these games are more prone to violence.
Lt. Col. Dave Grossman suggests that children involved in shootings have become extremely accurate with their shots due to the day after day of practice shooting in video games (Grossman, 1998). He suggests that war is sometimes simulated on computers and such, to train our soldiers to kill. The purpose of the simulators is so our soldiers may accurately learn to shoot. Video games reward children for also learning to accurately shoot.
This makes perfect sense. For example, if your child watches shows daily with violence as a theme, over and over again, watching the ones they are rooting for or wanting to live, a character they care about, violently being killed, maimed or mutilated, and the outcome of the show or game is that “that’s life, that’s just how it is”…is portrayed, how could they possibly continue to empathize with death or the harm of others? They can’t. Throw into the mix, any type of mental disorder and you have a penchant for violence.
Research has shown that a kid who kills for no other reason than they can may have been influenced by violent TV shows and games. With media exposure, as in the cases of, the Columbine shooting in Colorado, the Port Arthur Massacre which included the deaths of 35 and left several wounded, the theater shootings in Aurora, etc., children around the world actually watched this violence unfold on the television. Some could even relate. Children may view this as exciting, it’s fun and they get to be on television! They become famous…
Gloria DeGaetano, who once worked as a police officer states that “Sensational visual images showing hurting as powerful and domination of others as permissible are dangerous” (Ramsland, 2014).” The process of learning for children is repetition, if we want the child to say “thank you”, “please” and “you’re welcomed”, we do so by continuously repeating these words and actions to the child. Eventually, the child gets it. Something in the brain clicks in and “thank you” becomes natural. The same is true for children who are continually allowed to watch or participate in violence with their games. Show it to them enough, and eventually, it too can become natural!
“We have raised a generation of barbarians who have learned to associate human death and suffering with pleasure (Grossman & DeGaetano, 1999)” (Grossman, 1998). How horrific is this? Children are being taught to laugh when someone gets hurt and call others a “sissy” when they are brutally murdered by others and for whatever reasons may not be able to defend themselves, either for lack of skills or not having the capacity themselves to hurt another human being. They are portrayed as “weak”.
Another concern for kids who kill is RAD. Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a rare but serious condition in which an infant or young child doesn’t establish healthy attachments with parents or caregivers, (Staff, 2014).
Environment and the relationship between caregiver and child is also an important factor in kids who kill. Suppose you have a healthy child, this child is released home to excited parents. The parents are happy, eager to bring their child home and begin life with them.
The child is released home to loving, nurturing parents who are excited about bringing the baby home and have prepared extensively for the child. However, the parents are hesitant, unsure about this baby “thing”. Dad is getting high all the time and has lost his job, mom has decided because of the home situation; maybe having a child was not a good decision. It appears this baby has become a hindrance to the family environment. The abuse and the neglect begins…
When the baby cries, he is placed in his room with the door shut to drown out the noise. This child is also scolded for crying, punished for displaying any type of behaviors and constantly told to “be quiet”. When the child cries, the caregiver does not respond…the child’s needs are not being met adequately. Mom and dad prop a bottle up on a pillow or object. There is no eye to eye contact, no smiling, no cooing, no human touch, no connection, no bonding. (Keep in mind, there will always be some form of attachment to the caregivers, because, after-all, they do feed the baby.) However, there is a disruption in the attachment process. The child is now growing up with little trust in his/her caregivers. Therefore, “detachment” begins.
These children become extremely difficult to discipline, as they really don’t care. They are survivors. The problem here is that there is a difference between surviving and thriving. Without the proper attachment/bonding between the child and caregivers, the child quickly learns that trust and love are a painful situation.
In order to cope with this pain, they shut down, refuse to “feel” and eventually become angry over their situation, adults, caregivers, whomever else may be in their lives. Bullying at school, taunting from others, each and every situation is intensified. They too lack caring about others. Why should they? The two people, who promised to love them, care and nurture them, to be there for them, have failed. There is little if any, attachment to anyone for the child.
Not only do they not understand or have empathy about others pain and suffering, they will in turn, cause the hurt or the harm without regard to the person. They begin to feel that if they have survived the abuse and neglect at home, so can others. They may even have a sense that the “weak” do not deserve to live. They kill with no regret, no remorse. And…they can very well turn that rage against their caregivers.
Debra Niehof stated that “The biggest lesson we have learned from brain research, “is that violence is the result of a developmental process, a lifelong interaction between the brain and the environment” (Ramsland, 2014).
Again…back to repetition. If a child is continually abused/neglected and survives, other human beings are of little significance to them. The above mentioned scenarios are not the only reasons kids kill; however, they have a major impact on our young, the vulnerable, those that depend on us, trust us to care for them and to guide them in the right direction.
As little ones, they have the right to grow up in a caring, loving environment, without violence, without abuse and without watching others being violently murdered, maimed and abused on the television. Children need good role models, examples in life to follow.
Typical adults with RAD can end up violent and incarcerated, with absence of guilt or conscience after committing aberrant acts. They may suffer from antisocial personality disorder, which impacts their ability to become productive member of society” (Levak, 2014).
Although we know that television, violent games and even the abuse and neglect of caregivers or not the only reasons behind every child killing, they are something that every parent needs to consider.
We can help by monitoring what are children are watching on television, the games we purchase for them, and by providing examples of loving, caring, nurturing relationships in the home. Parents must accept responsibility for what is happening with our children. We can’t ignore the fact, this type of understanding and empathy with these children begins in our own homes.
Grossman, L. C. (1998, August 10). Trained to Kill: Are We Conditioning Our Children to Commit Murder? Retrieved December 21, 2014, from Killogy Research Group: http://www.killology.com/article_trainedtokill.htm
Levak, R. (2014). Reactive Attachment Disorder. Retrieved December 21, 2014, from Angels – Foster Family Network: http://www.angelsfoster.org/about-angels/the-foster-crisis/reactive-attachment-disorder/?gclid=CMzXt-bm2cICFYlcMgodrGoA1Q
Ramsland, K. (2014, December 20). The Unthinkable: Children Who Kill. Retrieved from Crime Library: http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/weird/kids2/index_1.html
Staff, M. C. (2014, July 10). Reactive Attachment Disorder. Retrieved December 24, 2014, from Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/reactive-attachment-disorder/basics/definition/con-20032126
References Grossman, L. C. (1998, August 10). Trained to Kill: Are We Conditioning Our Children to Commit Murder? Retrieved December 21, 2014, from Killogy Research Group: http://www.killology.com/article_trainedtokill.htm Levak, R. (2014). Reactive Attachent Disorder. Retrieved December 21, 2014, from Angels – Foster Family Network: http://www.angelsfoster.org/about-angels/the-foster-crisis/reactive-attachment-disorder/?gclid=CMzXt-bm2cICFYlcMgodrGoA1Q Ramsland, K. (2014, December 20). The Unthinkable: Children Who Kill. Retrieved from Crime Library: http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/weird/kids2/index_1.html Staff, M. C. (2014, July 10). Reactive Attachment Disorder. Retrieved December 24, 2014, from Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/reactive-attachment-disorder/basics/definition/con-20032126