The NyPost (2015) reports on the murder of an eight year old little girl by her neighbor. Reportedly the murderer was her 11 year old neighbor who shot her to death from inside his house (Nypost, 2015). According to the little girl’s playmate, who saw witnessed the whole thing, the shooting followed the littles girl refused to let the boy see her puppy (Nypost, 2015). The article mentions a previous history of the boy bullying the girl (Nypost, 2015).
The criminal justice system was barely mentioned, but portrayed as having no comment (Nypost, 2015). Accordingly, they did not cooperate with the media’s inquiries into the crime. As he is a minor accused of serious crime the article states his arraignment hearing will be a closed the public (Nypost, 2015). Assumingly the criminal justice system has taken this stance to protect the boy’s rights to a fair trial.
The article makes you feel sad for both the families involved. I worry for the happiness of the other little girl who was playing with the victim. The purposeful mention of previous bulling brings the aggressive nature of the boy front and center in my mind. I also felt concerned that the boy child had access to and knew how to operate his father’s shotgun in the first place. Especially considering he had a history of verbal aggression (bullying) towards his schoolmate.
Psychological theories pertaining to crime include observations of conscious and subconscious processes of the human psyche that can contribute to criminal behavior (Schmalleger, 2014). Theories that could explain this murder include “trait theories” as well as psychopathological theories that suggest a disorganized antisocial personality development is at the heart of criminal behavior (Schmalleger, 2014, p. 84). Trait theory links personality (and associated traits) to behaviors that indicate proclivity for criminal behavior, for example, self-centeredness, indifference to the suffering and needs of others, impulsiveness, and low self-control (Schmalleger, 2014). From the psychological perspective there are many conscious and unconscious contributors to the young killer’s behavior including “individual’s personality features, combined with his or her intelligence and natural abilities” (Schmalleger, 2014).
A possible feature of personality that could have contributed to this murder is high levels of aggression in combination with a low threshold for frustration (Conklin, 2008). Normally boys have more aggression than girls anyway (Conklin, 2008). However, when combined with an inability to deal with frustration without resorting to violence this can be a toxic mix (Conklin, 2008). In this example: If the boy had a low threshold for frustration and high levels of aggression the combination could have led him to act violently in the face of interpersonal conflict with the girl.
Another psychological perspective might paint the boy as a developing psychopath or sociopath. The hallmark feature psychopathy is the early onset of a pattern of behavior that demonstrates an inability to empathize with others as well as a marked disregard for the welfare of others (Schmalleger, 2014). The development of these antisocial features of personality are said to occur in early adolescence and is associated with disconnected parental attachment and early child abuse (ChildhoodTraumaRecovery, 2013). Not surprising, the research concerning child murderers indicates that risk factors for child murderers include “severe rejection by one or both parents” and lack of role model from whom they can learn empathic behavior (Conklin, 2008). Other studies cite this same type of childhood maltreatment as the cause of deformations in the amygdala, a thinning of the outer layer of the cortex and, an average 18-percent volume reduction in the part of brain that is responsible for the governing of emotions (ChildhoodTraumaRecovery, 2013).
CBSNews. (2015). New Details Emerge In Probe Of Oregon College Shooting. Retrieved from
CBSNews and The Associated Press. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/oregon-shooting-umpqua-community-college-chris-harper-mercer-investigation/
Childhood Trauma Recovery. (2013). The Relationship Between Trauma and Psychopathy. Retried from http://childhoodtraumarecovery.com/2013/05/11/childhood-trauma-its-relationship-to-psychopathy/
Conklin, John E. Criminology, 10th Edition. Pearson Learning Solutions, 12/2008. VitalBook file.
NyPost. (2015). Devastated Mom Says Boy Shot her 8-year-old daughter dead over puppy. Associated Press. Retrieved from http://nypost.com/2015/10/05/devastated-mom-says-boy-shot-her-8-year-old-daughter-dead-over-puppy/
Schmalleger, Frank J. Criminal Justice Today: An Introductory Text for the 21st Century, 13th Edition. Pearson Learning Solutions, 01/2014. VitalBook file.