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I’m currently taking a course focused on criminological theory and as I’ve been thinking through the theories, I’ve tried to better understand all of the things that can go wrong in a person that causes him/her to take the life of another. More specifically, how can this happen in the case of a child?
The media has bombarded the public with images of kids who kill, from school shootings to unsuspecting parents being gunned down in the middle of the night. No parent wants to think that his or her child could be capable of such a thing, but it’s important to remember that, at one time, every murderer was somebody’s baby.
As news reports run on the latest juvenile homicide, inevitably some expert points out that “all the signs were there,” but what are the signs? Shouldn’t parents know what to look for, to determine if their child might be at risk for committing homicide now or in the future?
In the field of Criminal Justice, there is an assessment tool called the Homicidal Triad. It is a list of three behaviors that, when witnessed in children, are red flags that can indicate that he or she may be capable of committing murder. If you witness these behaviors in your children, seek professional help immediately. They are as follows:
- Bedwetting after the age of 12. There are, of course, medical reasons that bedwetting can take place past the age of 12. If your child suffers from a physical ailment that causes him or her to wet the bed, this doesn’t necessarily apply and shouldn’t be considered, on its own, a warning sign in such a case.
- Arson. If your child purposely and willfully sets fire to things, big and small, this is a warning sign as well as a major hazard to the safety of your family.
- Cruelty to animals. Any child who tortures and/or torments animals sends up a red flag because this behavior is indicative of someone who is void of empathy, or the capability to feel what someone or something else is feeling. This could be an indicator of a serious psychological problem.
Individually, each component of the Homicidal Triad paints a troubling picture. Combined, the effects can be lethal. If you know a child or have a child who exhibits any of the above behavior, please seek the advice of a trained professional regarding the appropriate steps to take to ensure that the child receives the help that he or she needs. By intervening now, you could be saving lives.
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