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This is an internal debate that I have with myself whenever I read about children/teens committing violent acts against other children/teens.

Two boys aged ten and 11 are being questioned after two other youngsters were seriously injured in an attack. One boy was left with life-threatening head injuries and another was slashed with a knife.

The critically-injured boy, aged 11, was found semi-conscious at the bottom of a ravine while the nine-year-old with knife wounds was found wandering along a street “dazed” and covered in blood, witnesses said.

Two boys who were found near the scene in Edlington, South Yorkshire were taken into police custody.

Since the abduction and murder of James Bulger back in the early nineties, the number of young teens committing adult crimes seem to have risen sharply. Whereby once upon a time, we’d have been shocked to hear about violent acts commited by young children/teens, sadly, these days, it just seems to be par for the course.

I don’t think that parents are solely to blame, but I certainly think that a large portion of the blame can and should be levelled at them.

I also blame a society that seems to be getting slacker and slacker at disciplining kids.

Back when I was a child, if I did anything wrong at school, I knew that I’d have my parents to deal with, and their punishment would be much harsher than anything I experienced at school, so I kept my nose clean. The same can be said for my siblings. It really was no accident that all of us grew up to be law-abiding, decent human beings.

I also think that we’ve turned into a society that makes too many excuses for our kids. So many kids these days don’t know how to cope with failure and rejection. For instance, a boy gets grounded by his parents, so he shoots them. A boy gets smacked by his parents, so he shoots his dad, and his dad’s friend. Parents refuse to buy their child the latest X-Box, so he sets the house on fire. A boy gets jealous over the arrival of a new baby, so he shoots his father’s pregnant fiancee. A girl wont date a boy in her class, so he beats her up and rapes her. Some teens are bored one day, so they decide to rape a thirteen year old girl.

I know that these things aren’t happening on a daily, or even monthly basis, but they are definitely happening more frequently than they ought to be.

Here’s a timeline of some of the shootings that have been perpetrated by kids and young teens:

October 2007: A teenage gunman reportedly shoots and wounds five people at a high school in Cleveland, Ohio, before killing himself.

April 2007: At least 32 people are killed in two shooting incidents in the campus of Virginia Tech university in Virginia.

September 2006: Gunman in Colorado shoots and fatally wounds a teenage schoolgirl, then kills himself; two days later a teenager kills the headteacher of a school in Cazenovia, Wisconsin

November 2005: Student in Tennessee shoots dead an assistant principal and wounds two other administrators

March 2005: Minnesota schoolboy kills nine, then shoots himself

April 2003: Teenager shoots dead head-teacher at a Pennsylvania school, then kills himself

March 2001: Pupil opens fire at a school in California, killing two students

February 2000: Six-year-old girl shot dead by classmate in Michigan (What the f*ck?)

November 1999: Thirteen-year-old girl shot dead by a classmate in New Mexico

May 1999: Student injures six pupils in shoot-out in Georgia

April 1999: Two teenagers shoot dead 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves at Columbine School in Colorado

June 1998: Two adults hurt in shooting by teenage student at high school in Virginia

May 1998: Fifteen-year-old boy shoots himself in the head after taking a girl hostage

May 1998: Fifteen-year-old shoots dead two students in school cafeteria in Oregon

April 1998: Fourteen-year-old shoots dead a teacher and wounds two students in Pennsylvania

March 1998: Two boys, 11 and 13, kill four girls and a teacher in Arkansas

December 1997: Fourteen-year-old boy kills three students in Kentucky

October 1997: Sixteen-year-old boy stabs mother, then shoots dead two students at school in Mississippi, injuring several others

And the list goes on. Obviously most of the above incidents have taken place in America, (I tend to blame the gun culture in America for the number of shootings there), but here in England, children/teens killing/hurting other teens/children have been steadily increasing. In 2008 alone, there were around 28 teenagers who were killed by their peers. This is a horrendous number, and it doesn’t seem to be improving.

In my opinion, if your child is out on the street when he should be in bed, he will get into trouble. If your child is hanging around with wild, unruly children, he will be lead astray. If a child isn’t taught that all actions have consequences, he wont think twice about breaking the law. If a child isn’t taught how to cope with failure and rejection while he’s young, then one day, his frustrations may spill out in a deadly manner. If a child grows up with an entitlement complex, he may one day decide to rape a girl who rejects him. If a child is taught how to shoot a gun, and is given free and easy access to one, one day, he may decide to use it on somebody he doesn’t like. Or a lot of somebodies who he doesn’t like.

All of the above are things that all parents should be able to influence, this is not rocket science. Parents can, and should be the difference between whether their children end up doing time for murder, and living a healthy, normal life, so in this respect, I think parents should take the brunt of the blame. But then again, aren’t some kids just born evil?

What say you?


  • eggs
    April 7
    9:28 am

    Politically incorrect opinion: If you are a violent thug, chances are, you will raise violent thugs. Once upon a time, violent thugs had their kids taken away from them and adopted off. Now, we take care to “protect the family” and instead of removing the kids, we “scaffold” the parents so they can keep their kids and raise them to be violent, substance abusing thugs just like their parents. Instead of chopping the cycle off at the knees, we spend endless dollars and man hours ensuring the cycle keeps producing ever larger numbers of thugs. It’s like a zombie movie in slow motion. 28 Years Later?

    All that being said, I’ve met some very sick fuckers in my life that went real wrong real early in their lives for no apparent reason. So. Of violent thugs, I would suggest 90% due to being raised that way, 10% due to being wired wrong right from the start.


  • In the US at least I blame the acceptance of violence within the culture COMBINED with the repression of sexuality.

    We see guns, rape, murder, molestation, assault on fiction TV every day, and hear about it on the news too. We also hear outrage at honest expressions of sexuality every day. There was a breast in prime time?!?!?!! Somebody sue!!! There was a murder? …And?

    As a culture, we’re not teaching the next generation the appropriate way to deal with their feelings in particular and life in general.

    Frankly it’s all too complicated for my wee little mind to unravel, but I believe, at the heart of it, it comes down to those two things – celebrating violence while shunning sexuality.


  • […] is born evil and that violence is a result of being subjected to violent behavior. Do you agree?This blogger asks that question too; are come children just evil or are parents to […]

  • It’s always been this way. Some are naturally bad. Some go bad.

    Billy the Kid killed his first man at the age of 12, back in 1871.

    Most of the world war soldiers were teens. We sent them over the sea, taught them to kill, and dealt with shell-shock, combat fatigue and PTSD.

    The 1950s saw the rise of youth gangs.

    The upheaval of the 1960 was youth-driven.

    In the 1970s, the futurists were predicting that in the 90s, the numbers of teens would be so huge that crime would go through the roof beyond the ability of any society to endure.

    You’re hearing more about the crimes. I’m not sure this means there are more. It just means that something that would have been local news is now national or international. Also, it may mean more kids are getting caught.


  • I think for every one of these acts there is a different story. Some kids are just born evil – like there is some disconnect from the beginning. Some are driven that way by parents and some happen due to denial by their parents who make excuses for escalating bad behaviour. I do think video games and media do a desensitizing job and I think many of these horrendous incidents are ‘copy cats’ of a previous one.


  • This was something my husband and I were recently discussing here at home. I remember the day the Westside shootings took place here in Arkansas quite well. I was in nursing school at the time and when the announcement came over the intercom, a classmate looked at us and said in a very calm voice, “I bet it was my brother that did it.” Everyone stood perfectly still, staring at her after this was said. A few minutes later, they came to get her because it WAS her little brother that had committed the crime. Why? Because his girlfriend broke up with him.

    They stole the guns they used in the shooting, and the van they used to haul them all to their hiding place outside the school. They hid in the trees and pulled the fire alarm so that everyone would come outside–and then they starting picking them off as they poured out the doors. There was clearly premeditation in this, but because of their ages at the time, they were tried and sentenced as juveniles. And now they are both free men, or were. I think one is in trouble again.

    Obviously, if the sister thought it was him, he had issues. Who knows what all those problems were or why they weren’t addressed BEFORE it resulted in such violence. And who knows why the younger boy went along with it.

    Perhaps in some cases, it goes to such extremes because they ARE children and therefore know they’ll be punished as children. Those records are generally sealed and when they are released, it’s like they get to start all over again, almost as if it never happened. They sometimes even get new names or move off to an area where no one knows who they are. Perhaps if there were stricter and hasher punishments, it might deter some of this violent behavior. Just guessing, though.


  • Las
    April 7
    12:40 pm

    If you are a violent thug, chances are, you will raise violent thugs. Once upon a time, violent thugs had their kids taken away from them and adopted off. Now, we take care to “protect the family” and instead of removing the kids, we “scaffold” the parents so they can keep their kids and raise them to be violent, substance abusing thugs just like their parents.

    Nope. Maybe back 20-30 years ago (and only if the “thugs” in question were very poor, let’s be honest), but before that? No way were kids being removed except for the most extreme circumstances. Also? It seems to me that most of these kids committing these violent acts come from “decent” suburban upper middle class homes, where everyone is just shocked that it happened (remember Columbine?). Although I do find your view refreshing compared to the “if only we were allowed to beat our children into submission without CPS getting involved, this stuff wouldn’t happen” crap that gets thrown around constantly.

    I truly believe that people are born with their personalities, and while how we’re raised has a lot to do with how we deal with things, some kids are just going to be evil even if the parents do everything “right.” I also agree with Venus that it has a lot to do with how our society treats violence and sexuality.

    The main thing, I think, is that we’re too focused on “letting kids be kids.” Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s absolutely necessary for children to be allowed to be children, but it’s gotten to the point where making kids have any responsibility at all is seen as wrong. And childhood seems to last a hell of a long time these days. A fifteen year old is NOT a child, I don’t care how squeamish it makes some parents to think otherwise. Treating young adults as completely dependent children who shouldn’t be allowed to make their own decisions and deal with the consequences is a recipe for disaster.


  • Fae
    April 7
    2:57 pm

    I have very strong, very not popular opinions about this, so I’m just going to answer your question. Yes, I think some kids are born evil and will become a danger to society no matter how hard their parents try. And yes, I also think the enormous, vast majority of these crimes can be blamed on the parents of the kid who committed them.


  • Psychopaths are born, not made.

    At its core, psychopathy is lack of empathy. Most children do not feel (or understand or manifest or whatever you want to call it) empathy until well into toddlerhood, because the survival instinct drives them to focus on themselves. As they grow older, there is another instinct coming to the fore: since humans have no claws, no fangs, nor natural armor, individual survival depends on group cooperation and so, for the species to survive, empathy plays a huge rôle.

    But some individuals never develop empathy . It’s just not there. Those are the true psychopaths, and there is no cure for that. They may learn to mimic the emotions of those around them since their survival depends on how well they blend, but they are simply incapable of feeling empathy. In their eyes, only what they want matters, above everything else.

    If these individuals do not learn to control their impulses, they will easily become killers.

    Which explains how you have kids from privileged, sheltered backgrounds–kids who have never suffered any violence or lack, emotional or material–become cold blooded killers.

    Are the parents to blame? Not in the sense of “making” these kids into killers, but in the sense of not paying attention and seeing all the warning signs–and there are plenty of warning signs.

    Kid killers are not a new thing–Leopold and Loeb did it in 1924, and Mary Bell in 1968. I’m quite certain that long before that there were kids getting rid off other kids for a variety of reasons, most of them banal.


  • Anon76
    April 7
    3:59 pm

    Yes, I believe some kids are born evil. I personally know of one who just keeps getting worse every year.

    But I also believe that a lot of the kids that are borderline can go one way or the other, and that all depends on outside influences.

    I cannot tell you the number of kids I see go astray because his/her parents want to be buddies with them instead of parents. These parents feel that if they strictly enforce the rules they “supposedly” set down, then the child won’t “like” them anymore.

    Well, gee, what about the rest of society? We certainly don’t “like” your little heathens. These children have been taught that there are no real consequences to any action, and often the parent will be right there to tell others, “don’t you dare treat my kid badly even though he broke the rules”, whatever they may be.

    And while I in no way condone abusing kids (my mom had an evil streak) there is a difference between beating up on a child and providing a butt smack here and there. And a difference between isolating a child for extended periods and grounding them for a week.

    Honestly, except for the small percentage of kids who are wired wrong from day one, how parents handle their children in those early, formative years can make all the difference in the world. Because to suddenly start enforcing rules where none existed before, not so hot in a kids developing mind. Then you have become the “bad guy”, in their eyes.

    But that is my humble opinion, and others may not agree.


  • It really does appear that while it is considered taboo these days to spank your child or deny them an iPod the stats on violent crimes involving children are sky-rocketing. Maybe it isn’t that children are born evil, but that modern cultural standards discourage responsible parenting. I really hate comparing children to pets, but if you beat your dog one day its going to turn around one day and bite your face off. By the same token, if you let it behave however it wants and roam at will throughout neighborhood it is going to fall into aggressive, pack-like behavior. IMHO, this is what is happening to a great many of today’s children.


  • Marianne McA
    April 7
    5:17 pm

    Lots of thoughts.

    I wonder if this is a difference between perception and reality. I know it seems like there are always youth stabbings in the news, but that might say more about the media than it does about the youth of this country.

    I imagine that if you went back 100 years you’d see as much, or more, youth crime as we see today. I would be suprised, in fact, if you could show that the average teenager today has a higher chance of becoming involved in criminal activity than a teenager of your own generation.

    I’m almost positive that the UK currently has relatively low rates of youth crime.

    Then, if there is a problem specific to this generation, (and as I say, you haven’t convinced me that there is) are there other issues than parenting that could account for it?

    For instance, what about social deprivation?
    If society is to blame, are we to blame for being slack about disciplining and excusing the children, or are we to blame for not tackling issues like poverty properly?

    My children are teenagers now, so I’m biased, but I’ve just spent the day with 20 teenagers who are giving up their Easter holidays to run a holiday bible club for younger children. They’re not some spoilt and indulged lost generation: they’re good people.

    (And, to answer the question – finally – I do think some people are born evil, and others learn to do evil things. But I think that was always true, and will always be true: I don’t believe that this generation is worse than any other.)


  • Las
    April 7
    5:41 pm

    I wonder if this is a difference between perception and reality. I know it seems like there are always youth stabbings in the news, but that might say more about the media than it does about the youth of this country.

    Excellent point. I don’t know the numbers for youth violence, but I know that the rate of kidnappings hasn’t gone up in the last 30 years, they’re just reported a lot more, resulting in major paranoia and over-protected kids (which ties in with my earlier point about childhood lasting much longer these days). I can easily imagine that the same holds true for other crimes.


  • yes, i believe some kids are just born evil. It’s terrible to say that, to feel that. But it is what it is.

    But I also think kids in general need their parents to teach them right from wrong, and at an early age. They need that discipline. They need to understand that doing the wrong thing comes with consequences…not excuses.

    My kids do the wrong thing, they get disciplined. They are as good as gold at school because they know if they get in trouble at school, what happens at home will be worse. They do something wrong at home, they face the consequences.

    Parents, and society as a whole, has to stop excusing away any and every wrongdoing.

    If a parent truly loves their child, they will discipline their kids, and when the kids do wrong, they will make the kids face those consequences, because when you don’t, there are still consequences, and often, they are far worse than a swat on the butt, losing the cellphone for a week or month, or not going out with your friends one weekend.


  • SarahT
    April 7
    7:12 pm

    Some kids are born evil. Others are made so. I don’t think any one factor can be blamed but our society as a whole is far too permissive of kids’ bad behaviour.

    Many parents expect schools to teach their kids manners & morals, but then go apeshit if teachers actually attempt to do so.

    I taught at a secondary school for a few years before I got sense and moved into adult education. The class which pushed me to quit was a remedial English class for boys aged 16-17. One day, they decided to leave a large, purple vibrator on my desk, and all submitted pornographic essays which basically detailed what they’d like to do to me.

    When I complained to the headmaster, he just shrugged and told me to forget about it. He couldn’t expel the whole class and the parents wouldn’t stand for the boys getting detention because it would interfere with their extracurricular activities. WTF??? What sort of message did this give the boys? Fine, they probably saw what they did to me as a harmless joke. But fast forward a few years and those boys will be men up in court for sexual harrassment or worse.

    I’m not advocating a return to the days of the master and his cane, but the current situation is ridiculous. If parents don’t discipline their kids, and schools aren’t allowed to, then who does?


  • pb
    April 7
    7:56 pm

    I hope it does not upset people, but I would be very keen to know the ethnicity of the 2 brothers charged with attempted murder?

    This is the kind of behaviour we expect in London (where we celebrate diversity!) and it’s truly sad to see this level of depravity in the suburbs. If anyone knows, please post.

    The Alternative is to carry on being liberal and ignore explanatory factors.


  • Personally, I think it’s a bit of both. Some good kids go bad because it’s a path their parents encourage, and others go bad no matter how ‘good’ their upbringing is. And it goes without saying that there are their equal opposites who work hard and make something of themselves despite their backgrounds.

    “If parents don’t discipline their kids, and schools aren’t allowed to, then who does?”

    I can’t agree with this more. I’m not a heavy proponent of physical discipline/corporal punishment as a first option, but frankly some of the kids I see around need a good kick up the arse.


  • SarahT
    April 7
    8:19 pm

    @pb: I’m don’t know the ethnicity of the boys in this case. The ones who killed James Bulger are white (Karen posted their pictures above).

    I’m not convinced that ethnicity plays a decisive role in making a child into a killer. It’s far more likely to be due to socio-economic factors and a serious psychological disfunction.


  • SarahT
    April 7
    8:28 pm

    Then again Tim Kretschmer – the German kid who recently shot up his former school – came from quite a wealthy background. So you never can tell.

    What both fascinates and horrifies me is that of all the fucked up kids out there, very few actually do stuff like this. But it’s virtually impossible to predict which ones will flip.


  • Cindy
    April 7
    11:59 pm

    I do agree some people are just born evil. But I also see most of the children aren’t disciplined, the parent refuses to believe their child did something wrong if someone goes to them.

    Going along with the effects on culture, I feel alot of the kids start out by acting out to gain their parents’ attention. They probably don’t feel loved and then when they’re rejected by others that causes more mental damage.

    Bullying is out of hand as well, and a lot of the cases of school shootings are usually students who have been bullied. The schools expect the parents to handle disciplining the kids,but when they’re so blind that they don’t even see bombs being made in their home (or weapons hidden there, etc.) there’s really not much hope.

    The care of a nanny or a day care falls way short in my mind. So many parents don’t want to be bothered. And I heard an interesting comment on the Apprentice the other night. The teams were to make a viral video for laundry detergent and one of the ladies said, “So our demos are moms.” Makes sense to me. The executives are like, “No. Women with children,not moms.” I’m sorry, to me your children should be top priority. I also think kids need a steady,complete family. I know that’s not a popular conception in today’s society.


  • Dawn
    April 8
    11:55 am

    I do think that some people just have evil tendencies, but nurture does play a large part in the eventual nature of the adult. Of course, there’s just some people who’ll turn out nasty no matter how good their upbringing.

    I just assumed that the kids involved in this atrocity are white. Just the impression I got (of course I could be completely wrong).

    I agree entirely that children need to experience and be taught how to deal with failure/rejection/whatever, because if they get everything they want, the time that they don’t they haven’t a clue how everyone else copes with this “rejection” and they take what they want, however they want to.

    Apparently, the thugs who attacked the other two boys did so because they refused to hand over their money, mobile phones and trainers when it was demanded of them.

    I also agree with those of you who said that these happenings are not more frequent, they are just being reported more often now.


  • SamG
    April 8
    2:27 pm

    I agree that some are just born bad. I am not convinced that percentage-wise it is happening that much more. See, I’m going to try to type math facts and I will probably screw up. But, lets say the earth has 6 million people on it (like it did at some point..I’m just not sure when that was). IF 1% of the people are ‘bad’ that makes 60,000 bad seeds, but now that we have 6 billion running around (and the 1% stands) there are 6 MILLION bad seeds.

    To be honest, I’m hoping it is actually less than 1%.



  • snarkhunter
    April 9
    10:35 am

    I hope it does not upset people, but I would be very keen to know the ethnicity of the 2 brothers charged with attempted murder

    Are…are you seriously suggesting that people of color are more violent than white people?


  • Snarkhunter, I think that this bit

    The Alternative (sic) is to carry on being liberal and ignore explanatory factors.

    answers your question.


  • snarkhunter
    April 9
    6:34 pm

    ::sigh:: I know. I just like to believe that no one *really* thinks that.


  • Are…are you seriously suggesting that people of color are more violent than white people?

    I’m pretty sure that’s what he/she was suggesting. The liberal comment gave that away.

    I like that he/she hoped that nobody would be offended, before asking the question on a blog where the blog owner is black and likely to shoot her/him for being so ignorant.


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