Why Do Children Kill Children?

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

You don’t hear about it as much as you did over the past twenty-five years. There are hundreds of violent crimes involving children killing children which have picked over the past five years. Once an act of violence is committed upon a child from another child, the pressure begins to swell. Everyone is placed under the microscope, the child predator, his family, friends, and etc.

Across the environmental situations, people are asking why. Why did this child kill someone he knew? Was their relationship so upside down that death was the mediated resolution to the conflict which was in front of them? The mental process children go through when they decide to kill is founded on the idea that the only resolution to their problems is to kill their opponent. Is this how they view their family, friends, enemies and etc.?

At the heat of the moment the mental strategies that children have available to them is difficult to access. Their adrenaline is something they have to compete with and in the exact moment they pull the trigger, they instantly have remorse or have questions of why they made the decision they did.

 According to statistics and experts who research the issues surrounding children killing others, state that most likely the reason children kill is because of abuse which had occurred or is occurring to them.

According to FBI statistics, there were 62 cases between 1976 and 2005 in which children, aged 7 or 8 were arrested on murder charges. Of those, parents were the victims in just two cases.

The abuse upon the child perpetrator is generally the cause of why they commit murder. The abuse factor seems reasonable, but according to the research scientist, they state that mental illness or even simple feeling of frustration can set off the child perpetrator. The child perpetrator is not developed organically to handle the feelings they are experiencing at the time of the murder.

As children, they are exposed to so much violence in their life that acting out violently is seen as a way to deal with their internal anger. The child perpetrator knows how to threaten other children by threating to kill them. This becomes problematic because children, especially those under the age of 10 years, it is difficult to take them serious. Another child who is threatened does not have the experience in how to deal with the threat. Peer conflict is a part of growing up. Children rough house with one another, make inappropriate comments to one another, and threaten to hurt each other. To threaten to kill simply doesn’t compute and most children who use the lingo do not really understand what they are talking about.

If you took a thousand children and placed a gun next to them, it would be unlikely that any of the children would pick up the gun as a manner in which to protect themselves. However, movies on television cross this subject all the time and the child predator becomes a monster because he/she has been taught how to protect him and his family. This is the classic learned behavior analogy.

By the age of nine most children brains have completed enough growing phases where the children are highly unlikely to take to task someone who is bothering them. However, the child bully who picks on everyone may have just picked on the wrong child. The child bully is then targeted as the “bad guy” justifiably so and the child brings his father’s weapon to school. Knowing how to use the weapon because his father taught him; shoots the bully, killing him.

This scenario is not unheard of and does happen from time to time. Sexual bullying has become an increasing problem in our society. I recently investigated a family were everyone was acting out sexually with one another. I was able to determine that the oldest sister of the children was molesting all of the younger children.

Then there was this trickle down affect. The children didn’t know why they were being touched sexually, but it felt good, so they went to their younger brother and sexually acted out. Then the brother who was molested goes to his younger brother and acts out sexually and downward along the family line; six children are sexually abused.

If one of these children were angry enough they could obtain a weapon from their father’s weapon collection and shoot his sisters and brothers. It is unlikely that this would happen, however, it does happen, not as often as it could. The scenario that has to be examined and evaluated is taking the steps necessary to understand why this happened.

The parents of today do not understand that in order that their child does not become a child perpetrator or the victim of a child perpetrator they need to put in the necessary effort to stop the process from becoming a murder scenario. It is difficult to put in the necessary time when as a parent they find themselves working 60 hour work weeks in order to keep your job. Also there are other responsibilities that first need to be taken care of before they begin teaching their child the does and don’ts of how not to become a child perpetrator or the victim of one.

The child, who finds himself in a world of confusion with no one to turn to or to talk to, knows no other way to stop the physical and sexual abuse from occurring in his life. He sees people shooting other people on television and sees this as a way to stop the real life sexual and physical abuse. There is a solution to his problem and once he finds it, all he knows is he will be safe ‘for now’.

Tomorrow, I want to research the ideas surrounding why children kill other children. The research which exists at this time is thin and not compelling either way. It is necessary to understand exactly what is happening with today’s children and why they turn to murder.  Stay with me as this is an interesting topic and exploring the research in this scientific field will provide you with many interesting findings.

Lawrence W. Daly

Forensic Educator, Investigator, and Interviewer

“Specializing Nationwide in Investigating Child Sexual Abuse Allegations”

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