Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Too Young to Blame? Then Blame the Parents

When young children commit heinous crimes, who is to blame? Who is to be responsible? Once upon a time, society held the parents accountable for the actions of their children who hadn't reached adulthood reasoning that they are in their charges, their responsibility, and they controlled their behaviors and movements. If your child committed a crime, you paid either out of your pocket or with some jail time yourself. When did this concept disappear?

A seven-year-old boy recently broke into a zoo in Australia (yes, seven-years-old) and beat thirteen lizards and turtles to death and fed them to a crocodile. The toll of the mass animal murder tallied over five thousand dollars, not to mention the loss of life to these innocent animals and the sadness and horror felt by the zookeepers and community.

The boy cannot be charged because he is too young. The zoo is going to sue the parents for his actions. I think it is a damned fine idea. It is about time parents realize if they are going to bring another human being into the world and train it for eighteen years, they must take the job seriously.

I have suggested the same concept for teens who murder their friends and classmates with guns. Make the gun owner responsible for whatever happens with that gun (unless the owner reports it stolen). Since a gun is either supposed to be on your person or in a lock box, there is no excuse for your kids getting to it. If you clearly already deranged teen takes your guns to school, you go down as an accessory to the crime. If this happened to the next parents who gave little juvenile delinquent Johnny access to lethal weapons, I am guessing you would see a major increase in the sale of gun safes.

Some folks will say this is too harsh, that some children are just born bad and parents shouldn't have to pay the price for their child being a psychopath. I disagree. I just don't believe out-of-control kids "just happen to good parents." Sorry. Maybe I am to harsh, but i am getting sick of parents claiming they can't do anything about their kids. It starts young, folks, and raising children means putting in lots of work. My feeling is you work hard when they are young and then you don't have to suffer later. Your kids may not turn out "perfect" but they don't have to be menaces to society.

Other than providing three more meals to the crocodile (the boy and his parents), suing the parents is the next best thing.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown


Inspector Winship said...

"I am guessing you would see a major increase in the sale of gun safes."

I doubt it as gun rights groups would likely fight it as a backdoor to regulation. As for the parents being punished I agree and disagree. The parents of the seven year-old definitely should be punished for the crime and probably child endangerment/neglect as well. But not all parents are trained criminal profilers so it's hard to see warning signs that your child, who you love and would gladly die for, might snap and wipe out some classmates before killing themselves. No honest and loving parent would ever think their child was capable of such a thing. This would likely create a generation of parents who treat their children as guilty until proven innocent and still wouldn't prevent these things from happening. But really, a seven year old? What kind of security did the zoo have? Signs saying "Keep Out."

Preraphazon said...

THANK YOU! Of course parents should be responsible for what their kids does. MAYBE there should be some caveats for teens over a certain age since it is true that nothing short of restraints can stop one if they're hell-bent on destruction (I should know. I was one.) But more and more people are bringing children into the world and expecting the rest of us to support and care for them, and I am for anything that will reverse this irresponsible trend. Similarly, why do some parents, when their child is yelling and just creating general chaos in public, pretend they have no control over it? I was recently driven to distraction by a young boy who was keening nonstop in the aisle where I needed to shop for vitamins, and his parent never once suggested he shut the *%#! up. I actually had to leave the area to escape before my head exploded.

I don't believe bad kids get that way by themselves either, though brain damage that may have gone undetected could be an exception, because it can cause that. It's also true that the parent may be good but that sometime some abusive or traumatic event may have befallen the child that could cause behavior problems. But more and more, I am seeing people who believe they are good parents simply because they are "nice" parents, and I'm telling you, "nice" doesn't always get the job done in parenting, and I think the childrearing philosophies over the last decade have misled a lot of parents into a false sense that what they are doing is good for the child.

I've recently noticed some articles and depositions where we are now seeing the result of this "unconditional praise" philosophy playing out in the workplace. I was stunned to read a young boss reciting this sticky sweet note he wrote to one of his employees who he actually never wanted to hire and was lukewarm about to motivate her. So now we're seeing this false ego-building in the workplace, and I am trying to imagine how this could be a good thing, having a bunch of mediocre employees convinced they're wonderful - right up until they time they get canned.

Pat Brown said...

"But not all parents are trained criminal profilers so it's hard to see warning signs that your child, who you love and would gladly die for, might snap and wipe out some classmates before killing themselves. No honest and loving parent would ever think their child was capable of such a thing."

Well, Winship, I do not think a parent needs to be a criminal profiler to discern bad behavior in their child. The problem, in my opinion, is that parents are parenting and then they excuse their child's behavior and blame something other than their own handling of the child.

No child just overnight stalks slaughtering animals and burning down the shed. Lots of concerning behaviors showed up earlier. I don't know how many times we have to read that the parent had no idea Johnny had problems in spite of the fact he was rude, surely, mean, sadistic, hiding in his room playing death metal music, skipping school, committing crimes - vandalizing, shoplifting, car theft...but, the parent has no clue their son has problems? Nah,...

Pat Brown said...


But, those teens didn't just change overnight. They were raised to be that way.

I also think we have lost the ability to see the difference between childish curiousity and teen naughtiness and downright criminal behavior. I might have snuck out of my room once as a teenager but I wasn't burglarizing the house down the street. There IS no excuse for this kind of thing: the child isn't going "through a phase," he is a psychopath.

Preraphazon said...

I agree. In my case, I was a goody two shoes and then rebeled and did change overnight, but not into a psychopath. I still had empathy and some values. It's true there is no one blinder to their childrens' faults than a mother, though. I guess that's a survival technique, probably, but it sure causes lots of problems. Denial is very convenient for those who don't want responsibility.

Irelands Lady said...

I am no criminal profiler but I can assure you that I would have seen warning signs in my kids and have seen it in others. I am a mother.
It all starts at a very very early age. It all depends on the reaction of the parents when a tot throws a tantrum. Alot of parents make the massive mistake of thinking it is easier to give the child what he/she wants, and possibly the parents will have a bit of peace, but only in the short term. Giving in to a childs tantrum is the very beginning of a long hard battle and possibly the rearing of a potential criminal.
Giving into a childs tantrum is the lazy bad parents option, smacking a child is the lazy parents option, give them what they want to keep them quiet or smack them = bad parent.
A good parent will not give into a childs tantrum, will firmly show the child what is and isn't acceptable and will earn great respect from the child. A good parent would never need to smack a child.
How a child will develop and grow, how the child will look unto others and react to others, how a child sees the world, all begins very early on, at toddler age and even sooner. This is when teaching your child about life should begin, otherwise it is too late for most.