Sunday, February 14, 2010

Children Who Murder

This article is about the recent incident of Jordan Brown. A twelve year-old boy who murdered his 8-month pregnant stepmother. Brown shot his stepmother's head while she was fast asleep. The question the article posts is whether an 11 year old can be held accountable for his actions in the face of the law. The prosecutor in the case, John Bongivengo told CNN, "My choice is either to charge him as an adult, or don't charge him," referring to nuances of Pennsylvania law, and goes on to state, "Not charging him at all wasn't feasible."

In cases of Murderous Children, social psychologist are quick to point out our tendency to underestimate the power of the situation. Are some children just born-murderers? Or is the act of murder the result of difficult social circumstances? How should the law be applied in such cases.

Many post-trial interviews of child murderers indicate that they were fully aware of the significance of their actions. They murdered with intent. If the child is held accountable in the face of the law he may face a maximum of life imprisonment.
I think this is a dangerous policy as incarcerating a child may exacerbate his anti-social tendencies. Social learning theory has it that children directly learn from experiences and observation of the adult world. Simply put, a prison is not the best environment to grow up in. Jordan may end up worst-off than when he went in.
I find it saddening that every now and then a story as this comes along. Violence in the media and popular culture seems to have something to do with it.

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