These children also might see their own feelings of a wish to do physical harm toward another reflected in the feelings of others, the psychological term known as projection, and may be afraid or paranoid of others intentions.
Sometimes the criminal act of murder is an extension of previous anti-social acts of less serious forms of delinquency and criminality and children merely graduate to more extended and more violent and extreme forms of behaviour in the form of murder.
Anti-social behavior is rare but is often a trigger for the child, he or she does not have a clear sense of self or a clear sense of the pain he or she inflicts with his or her actions toward another. They are partly or completely disassociated from the emotionally charged elements of violence. They do not have fear, and as Lownstein states they do not often experience guilt.
Because of the relative difficulty perceived by many professionals of changing such feelings, once they have become a part of the child's psychology, the key for most would be prevention rather than rehabilitation.
Lowenstein) Though the main problem with prevention as the one and only best solution for the problem is that families are increasingly fragmented and isolated from community and warning signs could be creatively masked by an unhealthy and secretive family net. It is this lack of remorse that often leads the drive by proponents of these children being tried as adults, with punishments that fit the crimes they commit, often so heinous even professional investigators are shocked and awed by the intensity of the anger expressed by these children in their actions. "Having interviewed such children on numerous occasions, I have found that they frequently have a mask of non-feeling or defensiveness but beneath that mask there is anger, depression and in rare cases, guilt. Some of these children suffer from psychotic illness, most do not."
Lowenstein also reports that the there is a disproportionate representation of children of divorces parents with previous criminal records, and truancy. Yet, the cases of children as young as 10 are outside this possibility as children are rarely old enough to have committed offences serious enough to warrant police or official intervention by this age, though there are such cases. Also disproportionately represented where boys, minorities, and those in a lower socioeconomic bracket.
The case of Michael Hernandez on the other hand is a clear example of the kind of emotional detachment a child killer exhibits. He had dark and sinister plans, laid out in a kind of murder journal that the trial brought to light. There had been no known animosity between himself and his best friend of many years, Jamie Gough, and yet he brutally murdered him in a school restroom as a birthday present to himself, "It seems that Hernandez had devised for himself a little birthday celebration. He had a list of three people that he had planned to kill: his older sister, a long-time friend referred to in the reports as "A.D.M.," and Gough." ("Dark Ambitions: A Born Killer?" Court TV crime library website) His plans were not sketchy and indicative of an argument they were premeditated and planned, with lists of needs and necessities outlined and obtained for the killing spree.
In his journals, Hernandez had a six-page Internet printout about mass, spree, and serial murderers on which he had drawn a hanged man and had written "will become a serial killer."...He also had written a list of violent videogames and movies, had instructions for making a bomb,...Oddly, another note said, "You will be a serial killer and mass murderer, stay along, never forget God ever, have a cult and plan mass kidnapping for new world be an expert thief." ("Dark Ambitions: A Born Killer?" Court TV crime library website)
The extreme sense of disconnection found within this boy and his environment is telling of the possible causes of his actions, but they are yet unknown, probably even to him. Additionally, in a few ways Michael Hernandez's case is also anomalous, in that he came from an affluent background and attended a school for gifted and artistic children. Though one case, because of its age does bring to light many clues as to the kinds of thoughts and problems children who kill have, at startlingly early ages.
The case of Mary Bell, who had an accomplice of sort Norma Bell who was not found guilty and seemed to have played only a supportive role in the crimes, is absolutely storybook of the severity of the situation facing these children. As the crimes occurred in 1968, when Mary was 10 there have been many years of analysis concerning her case and her own reflective observations have also been detailed by the press and biographers. She has since become an adult and been released from prison (she spent several years in boys juvenile facilities and then was transferred to a women's prison) she is now a mother and a married woman. She has much to say about her history and has claimed to be a totally different person, reformed and non-violent. (many say this remains to be seen) ("Making Mary Bell" Crime TV Library website)
In her case there were many early signs of disassociative behavior and violence. She was from a troubled home, her mother an S & M. prostitute, which she was at least marginally aware of, and her father was unknown, though a man married her mother when she was an infant and was around through most of Mary's childhood. He had not much more to offer Mary than her mother, as he was a professional thief, which Mary was also marginally aware of. Mary and others have described her early life in grave detail and paint a picture of an emotionally and physically starved child, with cunning and disturbing intelligence and pride rather than remorse in her actions of violence.
At two years old, Mary was refusing to bond with others -- she was already behaving in a cold and detached manner. Mary never cried when hurt, and began lashing out violently, smashing uncle's nose with a toy. Her mother's erratic rejections and reunions didn't help. ("Making Mary Bell" Crime TV Library website)
Mary's mother often came and went in her life, frequently leaving her with other relatives for extended periods of time and then returning to retrieve her, despite her relatives pleas to let her stay. This pattern was repetitive and damming to Mary's sense of confidence and security, not to mention proving the inability of adults to protect her from harm or provide safety and security in an environment with consistency. The world in which Mary lived both inside and outside her home was poverty stricken and dangerous, as a small child she witnessed the death of her five-year-old friend, who was struck by a school bus.
This devastating event must have further retarded her ability to bond with others. In 1961, Mary started kindergarten. "She was almost always naughty," said her teacher, who once saw Mary putting her hands around the neck of another child. When told not to do that, Mary said, "Why? Can it kill him?" She was lonely, and other kids teased her. She kicked, hit and pinched the other kids, and told "tall stories all the time." ("Making Mary Bell" Crime TV Library website)
Mary was violent in what detectives called a playful manner, not at all understanding the implications of her actions, not that her crimes were not heinous but they were sadly and obviously committed by a child who had not connection to the life she was taking. She also uses TV violence as an excuse for her strangling behavior, in one point in her trial testimony. Though violence was remarkably less visible during her youth than it is today, on television there is at least one connection there between the ideas of the media and the disassociated actions of disturbed children. In all this it seems that a strong implication is that Mary committed murder as an attempt to assert control in her life, a life in which she had very little control over anything, is this not the message in many other murders?
Culminating in this disturbing trend of increased violence among children and especially, that of the killing of other children, often without remorse is the realization that even after seemingly countless years of social and cultural training to attempt to be better at raising children we are still collectively failing some of them. The statistics continue to rise and the reasons are often varied but at the root of most actions is the remarkable numbness that children express after they have committed their crimes.
These children feel a complete lack of personal control over their lives and their extreme actions seem to be a message of power and control over self…