Psychological Profile of Kids who Kill
From Entertainment Wire, April 21, 1999It's not video games, guns, violent TV, or not knowing the difference between right or wrong that make up the psychological profile of a child who kills.
"According to a review of psychological and criminal research, children with early delinquent and aggressive delayed emotional and intellectual functioning, a history of being continually disruptive, difficulty getting along with other children, and those who come from homes with disruptive parenting are most prone to act out their rage through murder," said child psychologist Robert R. Butterworth, Ph.D.
According to Butterworth, most children who commit violent crime show an early combination of personality and family factors that include having trouble getting along with playmates, doing poorly in school and having few friends. By the age of 10, they're picking fights and labeled by their peers as social outcasts.
These children typically come from families where parents are poor at disciplining because they are either indifferent, neglectful, or too coercive, or they use harsh physical punishment.
"All the experts that want to blame child shootings on the media, video games or guns have failed to understand the research on violence and children and the role of personality in creating these youngsters," said Butterworth.
"We now know, from numerous examples of child murder in small communities and middle-class homes, that instances of children killing have invaded the heartland of America and that all children are at risk. Research also indicates that children who kill feel that they have no purpose in society, do not believe that they are emotionally important to their parents and exhibit chronic low self-esteem," said Butterworth.
Butterworth warns that until it is known for certain what makes these child killers tick, it is dangerous to release them into society, especially when there is no solid research indicating that they may be cured and prevented from killing again. "Teaching at-risk children to choose peaceful solutions to their problems sounds great, but it was never designed to curb murderous youth," said Butterworth.
Butterworth has conducted extensive surveys focused on children and youth, social and political issues, and trauma. He is a member of the media division of the American Psychological Association and is a licensed clinical psychologist.
CONTACT: International Trauma Associates, Los Angeles
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