When considering the cases of murder committed by children, one is always tempted to ask the question, Can children be psychopaths? The question of whether children can be psychopaths has been of particular interest to psychological specialists. It is practically not possible to diagnose children as psychopaths, considering the developing brains and their pliable personalities. The increase in the rate of children committing serious crimes such as murder has, however, inspired psychologists into to believing that the neurological condition of psychopathy can be diagnosed in children as young as five years and teenagers as well (Finkelhor, & Ormrod, 2001).
Many people struggle to accept the notion that a child could lack innate empathy and that some kids could be manipulative and dangerous to the society. However, the behaviors portrayed by children are somewhat in part of a product of their surrounding environment which should be considered when addressing some of the horrific crimes committed by children. Although the number of teenagers convicted of murder has decreased, there are some sad and disturbing emerging trends in teenage murderers, especially adolescent females who wickedly stab their classmates, neighbors, and friends to death.
Definition typologies that pertain to committing murder
There are various typologies that pertain to teenage murderers. Psychologists use different classification to distinguish and describe the behaviors of teenagers involved in murder cases and the characteristics of individual members of each typological group.
These are teenagers who are frustrated quickly and have limited or weak impulses control. They express their anger and hostility frequently and, in most cases; they resent authority. The antagonism of these teenagers may be expressed through passive aggressive characters. The majority of them believe that when someone offends them, the only legit way of solving the dispute is by fighting back. Also, these individuals prefer to engage in spontaneous acts of violence and most of them feel better and in power when they fight or kill.
The second typology is the over-controlled hostility type who often considers themselves as good. They rarely display anger and may be offended by yelling or cussing. They have inflexible and rigid cognitive. Notably, it takes time for these people to act out of anger because they accumulate anger within themselves for an extended period. Interestingly, many people do not believe it when this kind people cause violence or engage in criminal activities.
The hurt and respectful
The third kind of typology relating to this study is the hurt and respectful teenagers. This group always has a feeling that nobody treats them nicely and that people often walk on them. They do not perceive criticism in a positive way and are always complaining and whining. They always put the blame on other people and believe that things are always hard to them and may hold grudge within them for a long time, which may cause severe violence.
The traumatized type is another typology of teenagers who get involved in murder cases. These cause aggression due to a feeling that their identity is being assaulted. When something that is potentially offensive and intolerable happens, they feel that they are stripped of their sense of personal power. In this case, however, violence can be predicted and prevented.
The other topology consists of the wild-type who rarely understands the nature and magnitude of their actions. They do not know whether their behaviors are right or wrong. They hold diverse beliefs which make it hard for them to know whether their actions are right or bad.
The statistics for teenage murder in the U. S
The second leading cause of teenage deaths from car accidents in America is murder. The rate of teenage murder in the US is ten times higher than that of Western Europe and seven times greater than that in Japan. The majority of juvenile murderers are familiar with their victims with 27% of the fatalities being family members, and 48% are friends. However, 80% of teenage murderers in the U.S use guns. Teenage female murderers account for 10% of juvenile murders with most of the victims being their parents, boyfriend or their child.
The rate of crime committed by teenagers between the ages of 14-17 increased by 172% from 1985-1994. This rate of the offense rose steadily for both the white and black male teenagers as opposed to females. The biggest increase in juvenile homicide offenders was reported to be friends and acquaintances of their victims. In 20005, the rate of teenage murderers aged between 14-17 years increased by 20% with the greatest increase being among the blacks which were about 26% (Finkelhor, & Ormrod, 2001). However, due to the changes in demographics, the number of teenagers who are expected to commit murder within the same age group (14-17) is estimated to be 5,000 annually. Notably, the rate of murders committed by teenagers could even increase more due to the worsening conditions of nations youth.
The typical perpetrator of teenage committing murder (race, gender, age)
Typically, teenage males are more likely to commit murder as compared to their female counterparts. In the US, a disproportionate share of murder cases is perpetrated by adolescent males. The target victim for teenage murderers is different for both girls and boys. Teenage male murderers target their friends, acquaintances and or their peers who in most cases are within three years of their age. Classically, juvenile murderers are likely to kill their victims during a heated argument. A majority of male teenage killers use guns to execute their peers, friend or acquaintances with a minuscule proportion using a knife. Typical female juvenile killers are likely to kill their family members (41%). Regarding the murder weapon used, teenage female murderers use a knife to kill with only a minuscule percentage using a gun for the same.
However, both female and male juvenile killers mainly murder males and not the females. About 85% of male teenage murderers and 70% of the females kill males (male friend, fathers, and brothers). Typical killings by the teenagers also differ regarding sex and race. The majority of teenage murderers are men (91%). Teenage boys are more likely to commit murder crimes as compared to girls. The black teenagers are less likely to commit the crime in comparison to their white counterparts. The majority of teenage murderers are white. A typical teenage murderer is likely to commit the offense in groups of two or more (Finkelhor, & Ormrod, 2001). Killings by young groups occur along cross racial lines. Most of the murders occur between offenders and victims from different races. However, a majority of deaths along the racial lines involve black teenagers killing white victims.
Etiology theories for Teenage murderers
There are various etiology theories that relate and explain the murdering criminal behavior of teenage.
The integrated theory suggests that it is the combination of biological, environmental and cultural effects, developmental factors, the situational factors, and the vulnerability of the individual offender that causes teenage murder behaviors. The theory suggests that developmental effects that happen in early stages of life such as exposure to violence at home and mistreatment trigger destructive behaviors in teenagers (Snyder & Sickmund, 1995).
According to this theory, the primary cause of teenage violence such as murder is the misdirected expression of hostility and anger. The theory also asserts that teenagers especially girls commit murder not because they intend to but because they have anger within themselves which has not been eased through the right ways. This anger is then directed to the wrong people who in most cases are friends, peer or even family members.
Multiple Factor Theories
According to the current evidence, it is the manner in which various factors interaction of several factors that leads a person to commit an offense. When these factors interact, they cause undesirable effects on the offender which triggers them into committing the crime. Factors such as exposure to crime and maltreatment can interact to cause serious effects on teenagers.
The development risks factors associated with Teenage murderers
Although further research is required, various psychological specialists believe that the path towards teenage delinquency is to a greater extent related to family attachment, peers, school attachment, and community supervision. Teenage murder is often associated with several developmental risk factors which a child is exposed to as they grow and interact with the environment.
One of these factors is the lack of parental attachment. Among other sociological theories is the social control theory which focuses on the role of familial and social bonds in reducing offenses. According to this social theory, a core of social control for teenagers is found within the family unit specifically interactions with and sharing feelings with parents (Snyder & Sickmund, 1995). When teenagers are not attached to their parents, their chances of committing crime are increased because they children are not able to share anger and violence feelings with their parents.
Besides parental attachment, school attachment is another developmental factor that is believed to either influence teenagers into committing a crime or to preventing them. The role of the school in supporting the lives of teenagers and young people is of significance importance. Many teenagers get exposed to drugs for the first time when they attend school. Substance abuse is linked to the many cases of teenage murders especially for those between 14-17 years. This risk of drug abuse and exposure to other unfavorable conditions in school is not to be undermined when addressing the issue of teenage murder (Fox, 1993).
Various psychologists believe that there is an accelerated path towards teenage committing criminal offenses and consequently more severe crimes such as murder when teenagers associate with their peers who are capable of committing such crimes.
Social control literature assesses the role of the community as an agent of murder. The community plays a major role in fostering positive values, especially in teenagers. Poverty levels in the community can be a cause of the increasing cases of teenage murderers. A risk factor associated with crime is poverty where teenagers come from families that are prone to poverty may kill as a way of revenging against their peer whom they think is well off. Also, the majority of teenagers who commit murder and other serious offenses have a little perception of neighborhood monitoring
Description of the biological, social learning, and sociological theories that relate to Teenage murderers
There are certain areas of the brain when triggered can result in an increase in aggressive behaviors in teenagers. The brain structure of human beings, the amygdala, is linked to this aggression experienced by teenagers. According to biological theories, aggressive behaviors that make teenagers commit murder are genetically triggered by their brain. Low sugar levels in the blood can also result in such aggressive behaviors. The level of testosterone in males is another biological aspect that can lead to this aggression.
Psychological effects also are associated with the problem of teenage murder. Issues such as frustration can be the cause of a desire for aggression. The fear of disapprova...
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