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Special Populations, Cont: Child Killers. Typology: Types of Child Killers  Juveniles who kill fall into different categories, according to their traits,

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Presentation on theme: "Special Populations, Cont: Child Killers. Typology: Types of Child Killers  Juveniles who kill fall into different categories, according to their traits,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Special Populations, Cont: Child Killers

2 Typology: Types of Child Killers  Juveniles who kill fall into different categories, according to their traits, situations, and motivations.  Most of the experts categorize these killings by kids as:

3 Gang-Related  Inner city/gang killers—these are kids who grow up in violent environments and who may have violent role models, such that their typical mode of response, whether for self-defense or just to get what they want, is violence.

4 Gang Violence  Reasons gangs engage in violence are numerous and include protecting or expanding the gang's turf, recruiting new members, keeping members from leaving the gang, gaining respect or dominance over others, enforcing rules, and serving as a counterpoint or check on moral restraints or a moral conscience.

5 Familial Killing  Killing within a family: Kids who kill members of their family for reasons other than an accident, feel pressured by demands, abuse, hatred, desire for gain, and even by the need of other family members. Alex, 13, and Derek, 14, King

6  Parricide is the killing of one's parents; "patricide" is the term used for the killing of one's father and "matricide" is the killing of one's mother.  The common thread that experts find in most parricides is that the child has been sexually or emotionally abused by one or both parents. Typically, the abuse by a father is physical abuse, while in cases of matricide, the abuse is of a sexual or psychological nature.  Precise figures are lacking, but estimates suggest that parricide accounts for about 2% of all homicides committed in the United States.

7  For every one child who has killed his or her parents or parent, there is another who has attempted and not succeeded. Youth who attempt parricide and those who commit parricide are close cousins. They share in common an abusive home environment, youth and parental alcohol or drug abuse, a runaway history, problem behaviors and school difficulties.  When a victim survives an attempted parricide, it is often due more to luck and weapons choice then to a differing motive in the child perpetrator. Studies have shown that one difference for those who attempt parricide is a stronger affective component at the time of the killing--that is, the attempters seem to "feel more" than those who actually commit parricide. The latter tend to have more of a thinking component to their behavior when committing their crime, which perhaps accounts for their success (Flanigan, M., 1993).

8 Cult killings  16-year-old Roderick Ferrell killed the parents of his former girlfriend in order to steal their car so he could take his friends—members of his vampire cult—to New Orleans. Many children may identify themselves as Satanists because it gives them the feeling of power over others and the mystique of having secret associations with another world. They may decide that human sacrifice is necessary to increase their powers, so they kill. Ferrell claimed that he needed many victims in order to open the Gates of Hell.

9  Youth involved in Satanism tend to be more disturbed and present more often to therapists. They have usually suffered some type of trauma, and tend to have symptoms of Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder.  There are also indications that teens involved with Satanism tend to suffer more from Mood Disorders such as depression or manic-depression or from Personality Disorders such as antisocial qualities or conduct disorder.  Depression plays a major factor in whether teens join satanic cults. There is a strong correlation between involvement with dark areas of the occult and the loss of meaning, hope, and faith. Many teens who join satanic cults have despairing beliefs because of insufficient family or community nurturance (see Sparks, 1989).  Other studies have found that adolescents involved in the occult tend to be sensation seekers and at the same time to be more alienated from their school, town and social institutions.

10  Pathology: Sam Manzies, 15, opened the door to eleven-year-old Eddie Werner, who was out raising money for his school. He invited the boy in, then raped and strangled him, hiding Werner's boy outside. Manzies had been the victim of a child abuser and had shown signs of serious mental illness. His parents had desperately tried to get him help and were convinced that he would become violent. A doctor interviewed the boy for about ten minutes and told the parents to take him home. They were over-reacting, he said. Only three days later he murdered Werner. Many people have a difficult time believing that children can be mentally ill

11  School killers: They generally act on a perceived wrong done to them by others and view a climactic closure to the situation as the only way out. Frustrations accumulate into rage that motivates a spree. Michael Carneal, who shot into a prayer group in Paducah, Kentucky, was constantly baited by the other students. They said he had "Michael germs" and stole his lunch. One day he had a gun and even then the other boys taunted him. Finally he decided to act out and he ended up killing three students.

12 Killing During Another Crime  Fifteen-year-old Sandy Shaw lured James Kelly, 24, into the Nevada desert in 1986 so that she and two friends could rob him. They needed to money to post bail for Sandy's boyfriend. They lifted $1400 and then shot him six times. They then took friends out to see the body.

13 Sexual killings  James Pinkerton Kelly, 17, killed a neighbor. First he sliced open her stomach and ejaculated into the wound. Then he slit her throat and cut off her breasts. Before he was arrested, he managed to do the same thing to another woman.  Typically chaotic, abusive background, history of arrests, violent behavior  Show lack of ‘criminal skills’, shown by leaving evidence at scene

14 Cases from FBI Study Case #1  A 15-year-old male robbed a convenience store and raped a 52-year-old female employee as he threatened her with a 12-inch knife. Case #2  A 15-year-old female who had been missing was found strangled and sexually assaulted. Case #3  The parents of a 9-year-old boy reported him missing. Three days later, friends of the missing boy found blood in a wooded area near the victim's home and called the police. Case #4  A 54-year-old female was found in her home, strangled and raped, several days after her death. The front door was ajar, and there were no signs of a struggle.

15 Hate crimes  Two boys, 17 and 14, shot a man in the head and then ran over him repeatedly with their car just because he was gay. Such crimes begin with anger and hate and often involve a build-up of rage. However, there are cases where the killings happened just so the killers could brag to their friends that they'd rid the world of such a person.

16 Suicide  Five teenagers killed themselves in Goffstown, New Hampshire over a period of two years in the early 1990s. Another child, Jeremy Delle, went to school and shot himself in the head in front of thirty other students. Such kids tend to be lonely and depressed, but also want their self-violence to have painful reverberations in the lives of others. Some of the school shooters were suicidal as well, and wanted to take others down with them.

17 Conduct Disorder  In 1999, eleven-year-old Nathaniel Abraham was on trial for murder--the youngest defendant to date in a murder trial in Michigan. The country was disturbed that such a young boy might be able to form criminal intent—and not everyone agreed that he could---but in Michigan law, there's no age limit for when a child can be waived to adult court. In other words, there's no limit to when he can think through his or her actions with adult consciousness.

18 Abraham  Abraham was so waived, charged with shooting a stranger, Ronnie Greene, 18, outside a store in Pontiac, Michigan. He had a stolen rifle and allegedly had bragged about planning to shoot someone. He practiced on targets and then when he'd actually shot Green, he'd boasted about it afterward. Only when he was arrested did he claim that the shooting was accidental. He was eventually convicted of second-degree murder.

19 Abraham, cont.  Part of the problem was that there was no protocol for assessing diminished mental capacity in a child of Abraham's age. However, psychologists and social workers are becoming increasingly more aware of the special types of behavior problems among children and adolescents. Some of these are signals that violence may lie ahead.

20 The Variety of Disorders  There are many overlapping conduct disorders that play into juvenile crime, although given a child's developing and changing personality, it is difficult to diagnose mental disorders among adolescents. It's also true that many attitudes and behaviors characteristic of teenagers, such as anger, defiance, and restlessness, match the symptoms of several disorders.

21 Conduct Disorder  In general, a conduct disorder is a persistent pattern of behavior during childhood and adolescence that includes: –violating social rules –aggression –property damage –lying –stealing –rule violations

22 Behavioral and Emotional Disorders  Conduct Disorder - a behavioral problem involving persistent violations of the rights of others.  Oppositional Defiant Disorder - Such youths usually exhibit a pattern of defiant and disobedient behavior, including resistance to authority figures. This includes recurrent temper problems, frequent arguments with adults, and evidence of anger and resentment.

23  Disruptive Behavior Disorder: this is a category for pervasive restlessness and aggression that doesn't quite qualify for the first two categories, but is nevertheless a concern.  Adjustment Disorder: With Mixed Disturbance of Emotions and Conduct - an array of antisocial behaviors that occur within three months of a stressor.

24  Adjustment Disorder: With Disturbance of Conduct - similar to the other adjustment disorder, but with antisocial behaviors only, not emotional components.  Child or Adolescent Antisocial Behavior a category for isolated antisocial behaviors that fail to support an outright mental disorder

25 ADHD  Many of these have been linked with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD or ADD), which actually represents two separate problems. Children may have ADD (a problem keeping their attention focused) or ADHD (a problem with restless behavior and attention). Disorganization is common and the child may lose personal items regularly. Even when spoken to directly, the child can't provide feedback when asked. Hyperactive children frequently get into minor difficulties.

26 Increased Attention on Violent Offenders  Small percentage commit large percentage of crime  Recognition that we need to pay attention(to identify and intervene) to this special population  Attempt to study applicability of psychopathy to adolescents –3 issues at hand: Validity of applying psychopathy to children The meaning and malleability of psychopathy in youth Ethical and moral appropriateness of assessing pscyh in youth –Personality development of youth—any point in particular that certain traits emerge and remain stable?

27 Development of Psychopathy in Children  We know that a child under the age of 18 cannot be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder according to the DSM, although studies show that psychopathic symptoms often emerge in childhood.  Children with attention and behavior problems like these may actually signal that they are developing into psychopaths or children without empathy or remorse. BUT, why difficult to diagnose in adolescence?

28 Two Sides of the Debate  “there is no consensus among developmental psychopatholigists that personality disorder as a general class of pscyhopathology even exists in childhood or adolescence…if stable personality does not exist in childhood or adolescence, then surely personality disorder cannot”  “the key is to determine what can lead those processes (normal developmental) to go awry..in the case of pscyhopathology”

29 Psychopathy  Phillipe Pinel, in the 1700’s, referred to psychopathy as ‘insanity without delirium’  Hervey Cleckley developed modern definition, and described person as having no sense of shame, is superficially charming, is manipulative, who shows irresponsible behavior, and is inadequately motivated.  Antisocial Personality Disorder, introduced in the DSM in 1980, often interchangeable with psychopathy  Some models propose that males should be more susceptible to environmental influences and females who do become psychopathic should have a greater genetic predisposition; this is confirmed by the finding that the offspring of female psychopaths are more vulnerable than those of male psychopaths  Robert Hare, prison psychologist in the 60 ’ s, constructed his Pscyhopathy Checklist

30 Psychopathy  Because the Psychopathy Checklist has been widely successful in predicting future violence and criminal behavior in adults, it is now being utilized for juveniles (Psychopathy Checklist-Youth Version)  The PCL:YV parallels the PCL-R in item composition, but was designed to better account for adolescent life experiences by focusing more on peer, family, and school adjustment.  Several recent studies indicate that youth who score high on the checklist were more likely to violently recidivate  May be useful because studies show that psychopathy typically emerges early in life through violent and antisocial behavioral patterns

31 Definition  Psychopathy is a concept subject to much debate, but is usually defined as a constellation of affective, interpersonal, and behavioral characteristics including egocentricity; impulsivity; irresponsibility; shallow emotions; lack of empathy, guilt, or remorse; pathological lying; manipulativeness; and the persistent violation of social norms and expectations

32  Common traits in the background of psychopathic children include: –a mother exposed to deprivation or abuse as a child –a transient father –a mother who cannot maintain stable emotional connection with child –low birth weight or birth complications –unusual reactions to pain (especially to insult)

33  lack of attachment to adults  failure to make eye contact when touched  low frustration tolerance  sense of self-importance  transient relationships throughout childhood, or close association with another like him  cruelty toward others  animal abuse  lack of remorse for hurting someone  lack of empathy in friendships

34 APD DSM Criteria  failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest  deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure  impulsivity or failure to plan ahead  irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults  reckless disregard for safety of self or others  consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations  lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another

35 Empirical Support  Some studies show that pscyhopathic traits apparent in childhood remain relatively stable throughout adolescence, indicating a persistence of these characteristics  Some support for the validity of the Psychopathy Checklist when used to predict persistent offending in adolscents

36 Some Potential Problems  What happens when we start diagnosing children with severe personality disorders, like APD?  Current motivation for doing so is to effectively intervene so that child discontinues abnormal pathway  Can exposure to protective factors interrupt antisocial pathway?  BUT, common perception is that it is untreatable in adults, so labeling children as such may cause irreparable damage –Think about child involved in legal proceedings— detrimental effect on triers of fact?  Lack of optimism in treating the ‘untreatable’

37 Violence and the Brain  After Joshua Phillips killed his eight-year-old neighbor and stuffed her body beneath his waterbed, he went on trial for murder. At the time, there was a theory that violence was somehow coordinated with abnormal PET scans, or brain activity. Normally, the frontal lobe is active, but studies have shown that the activity in murderers is severely diminished

38 Brain Defense?  Although many people have dismissed the ‘brain defense’ there are researchers who firmly believe that violence is clearly the product of some kind of physiological imbalance. Some say it's almost entirely a matter of chemical interactions in the brain, while others believe that physiology and the environment are interconnected.

39  Debra Niehoff, a neuroscientist, studied twenty years of research before she wrote The Biology of Violence. Specifically, she asks whether violence is the result of genes or a product of the environment. She offers support that at times biological abnormalities are to blame—yet the environment gets its share of the credit, too. In her opinion, each factor modifies the other such that processing a situation toward the end of a violent resolution is unique to each individual. In other words, a particular type of stimulation or overload in the brain is not necessarily going to cause violence in every instance.

40 Interaction of Environ and Bio  "The biggest lesson we have learned from brain research," she says, "is that violence is the result of a developmental process, a lifelong interaction between the brain and the environment."  The way this works is that the brain keeps track of our experiences through chemical codes. When we have an interaction with a new person, we approach it with a neurochemical profile influenced by attitudes that we've developed over the years about whether or not the world is safe, whether people are trustworthy, and whether we can trust our instincts in reading a stranger.

41 How it Works  However we feel about these things sets off certain emotional reactions and the chemistry of those feelings is translated into our responses. Then that person reacts to us, and our emotional response to their reaction also changes brain chemistry a little bit. So after every interaction, we update our neurochemical profile of the world.

42 Aggression  The chemistry of aggression is associated with the chemistry of our attitudes and we may turn a normally appropriate response into an inappropriate response by overreaction or by directing it to the wrong person. In other words, the person's ability to properly evaluate the situation becomes impaired. If a person has come to believe that the world is against them, and they are overreacting to every little provocation, these violent reactions get beyond their ability to control, because they are in survival mode.

43 Patterns of Behavior  Niehoff reports that there are different patterns of violent behavior and certain physiological differences are associated with each pattern. For example: 1. Over-reactive patterns: they are hyperactive with a short attention span. The challenge is to get them to slow down and engage conscious thinking processes. 2. Under-reactive pattern: they have trouble developing empathy; have lower galvanic skin responses and a lower metabolic rate; and fail to attach emotion to their behavior. The challenge is to keep them connected and to reinforce their learning of appropriate social behaviors.

44 The Chemistry of Bullying  Applying this idea to bullying, which has been at the heart of much of the school violence in the past few years, Niehoff says "Your child is spending several hours almost every day in that environment, and to be on the receiving end of violence on a daily basis is very destructive. We're not going to stop all aggression between kids, but we ought to be more aware of the tormenting, teasing, badgering, and threatening and should step in early to intervene."

45  Around 30 percent of school children are involved in bullying incidents. Each time a bully acts aggressively, it affects the victim's brain chemistry and reinforces the idea that the world isn't safe. The resulting physiological response is to protect oneself and become hyper-alert to threat. The bully, too, gets reinforced in physiological aggression, especially against kids who are isolated. Yet the more they get picked on, the more isolated they get, triggering yet another cycle of bullying.

46 Flexibility of the Brain  Essentially the past informs the present but does not have to predict the future.  BUT, biology is not destiny. The brain is flexible and can relearn patterns by integrating new experiences.

47 What about Girls? Jessica’s story

48 Girls Who Murder  While such episodes do occur, and girls who participate can be just as callous and brutal as boys, it's nevertheless true that only ten to fifteen percent of murders involve females of any age, and most are adults. Among the reasons girls give for killing are revenge against an abuser, self- protection, or to get rid of a witness to another crime. Few are senseless, and girls rarely kill strangers. Mostly they turn on a family member and often it's their own child. It's also clear that girls rarely commit a murder on their own. Often they have accomplices or do it as part of a gang.

49 Hormones to Blame?  Antisocial acts are three times more common among males, and males have a greater tendency to develop violence-based sexual fantasies that then affect their physiology.  It's not all about hormones, as many people believe.  The more complex a species is, the less of a factor hormones are in violent aggression. In apes and humans, testosterone levels appear to have more to do with the desire to win than the desire to fight or to kill. It's a quest for advancement, and it also provides males with a greater sensitivity to the environment.  One study found that testosterone was most clearly linked to aggression when the violent behavior was a reaction to an overture perceived as a threat.  Boys with higher levels of testosterone were more irritable and more easily provoked, but they did not have a greater tendency to initiate violence.


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