Study on Juvenile Psychopaths
What is the “super predator”? He or she are young
hypercriminals who are committing acts of violence of unprecedented
coldness and brutality. This newest phenomena in the world of crime is
perhaps the most dangerous challenge facing society and law
enforcement ever. While psychopaths are not new, this breed of super
criminal exceeds the scope of psychopathic behavior. They are younger,
more brutal, and completely unafraid of the law. While current
research on the super predator is scarce, I will attempt to give an
indication as to the reasons a child could become just such a monster.


Violent teenage criminals are increasingly vicious. John
DiIulio, Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at Princeton
University, says that “The difference between the juvenile criminals
of the 1950s and those of the 1970s and early 1980s was the difference
between the Sharks and the Jets of West Side Story and the Bloods and
the Crips. It is not inconceivable that the demographic surge of the
next ten years will bring with it young criminals who make the Bloods
and the Crips look tame.” (10) They are what Professor DiIulio and
others call urban “super predators”; young people, often from broken
homes or so-called dysfunctional families, who commit murder, rape,
robbery, kidnapping, and other violent acts. These emotionally damaged
young people, often are the products of sexual or physical abuse. They
live in an aimless and violent present; have no sense of the past and
no hope for the future; they commit unspeakably brutal crimes against
other people, often to gratify whatever urges or desires drive them at
the moment and their utter lack of remorse is shocking.(9)
Studies reveal that the major cause of violent crime is not
poverty but family breakdown – specifically, the absence of a father
in the household. Today, right now, one-fourth of all the children in
the United States are living in fatherless homes – this adds up to 19
million children without fathers. Compared to children in two parent
family homes, these children will be twice as likely to drop out of
school, twice as likely to have children out of wedlock, and they
stand more than three times the chance of ending up in poverty, and
almost ten times more likely to commit violent crime and ending up in
jail. (1)
The Heritage Foundation – a Conservative think tank – reported
that the rise in violent crime over the past 30 years runs directly
parallel to the rise in fatherless families. In every state in our
country, according to the Heritage foundation, the rate for juvenile
crime “is closely linked to the percentage of children raised in
single-parent families. And while it has long been thought that
poverty is the primary cause of crime, the facts simply do not support
this view. Teenage criminal behavior has its roots in habitual
deprivation of parental love and affection going back to early
infancy, according to the Heritage Foundation.
A father’s attention to his son has enormous positive effects
on a boy’s emotional and social development. But a boy abandoned by
his father in deprived of a deep sense of personal security, In a
well-functioning family,” he continued, “the very presence of the
father embodies authority” and this paternal authority “is critical to
the prevention of psychopathology and delinquency.” (2)
On top of the problem of single parent homes, is the problem
of the children whose behavioral problems are linked to their mothers’
crack use during pregnancy. These children are reaching their teenage
years and this is “a potentially very aggressive population,”
according to Sheldon Greenberg, director of Johns Hopkins University’s
Police Executive Leadership Program. What’s more, drug use has more
than doubled among 12- to 17-year-olds since 1991. “The overwhelming
common factor that can be isolated in determining whether young people
will be criminal in their behavior is moral poverty,” Greenberg says.
(3)
According to the recently published “Body Count: Moral Poverty
. . . and How to Win America’ s War Against Crime and Drugs,” a new
generation of “super-predators, ” untouched by any moral inclinations,
will hit America’s streets in the next decade. John DiIulio, the
Brookings Institute fellow who co-wrote the book with William Bennett
and John Walters, calls it a “multi variate phenomenon, ” meaning that
child abuse, the high number of available high-tech guns, alcoholism
and many other factors feed the problem. University of Pennsylvania
professor Mavin Wolfgang says, “6 percent to 7 percent of the boys in
an age group will be chronic offenders, meaning they are arrested five
or more times before the age of 18.” If that holds true, because there
will be 500,000 more boys ages 14 to 17 in the year 2000 than there
were in 1995, there will be at least 30,000 more youth criminals on
the streets. Between 1990 and 2010, there will be 4.5 million more
boys, yielding 270,000 young criminals.

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“The big destruction happens early,” Heritage Foundation
fellow Pat Fagan says. “By the age of 4 or 5, the kid is really
warped. Psychologists can predict by the age of 6 who’ll be the
super-predators.” According to Fagan: Child abuse and alcohol ruin
these children. But the groundwork was laid three decades ago with the
widespread adoption of birth control, which made the sexual revolution
possible. It altered people’s dedication to their children and altered
a fundamental orientation of society. Sexual morality got unanchored
in the 1960s, followed by the legalization of abortion.


“Abortion is a very definite rejection of the child. So is
out-of- wedlock births, as well as divorce,” he says. “The predators
everyone’ s afraid of were abused kids. There’s sexual abuse and
alcohol, and just the general decline in the cultural knowledge of
what love is. ” In 1950, for every 100 children born, he says, 12 had
divorced parents or were born out of wedlock. In 1992, that number had
quadrupled to 60 children for every 100 born. Throw abortion into the
mix, and the number shoots up to 92 per 100. (4)
John Dilulio asserts that “each generation of crime-prone boys
has been about three times as dangerous as the one before it.” And, he
argues, the downhill slide into utter moral bankruptcy is about to
speed up because each generation of youth criminals is growing up in
more extreme conditions of “moral poverty” than the one before it. Mr.
Dilulio defines moral poverty as “growing up surrounded by deviant,
delinquent, and criminal adults in abusive, violence-ridden,
fatherless, Godless, and jobless settings.”
The “super-predator”, as told to a Washington press gathering
by DiIulio, is a breed of criminal so dangerous that even the older
inmates working their way through life sentences complain that their
youthful counterparts are out of control. He describes these teen
criminals as “radically present-oriented”. Because their time horizon
may be as short as the next guard’s shift, they have no capacity to
defer gratification for the sake of the future. When these “super-
predators” were asked by DiIulio or other inmates if they would commit
their crimes again, most answer, “Why not?” DiIulio also says, they
are “radically self-regarding incapable of feeling joy or pain at the
joy or pain of others.” (7)
According to Dilulio, today’s juvenile super-predators are
driven by two profound developmental defects. They are radically
present-oriented, perceiving no relationship between action and
reaction–reward or punishment–and they are radically self-regarding.
Nothing is sacred to them. They live only for what brings them
pleasure and a sense of power, placing “zero value on the lives of
their victims.”
Ultimately, concludes Mr. Dilulio, only a return to religion
will restore to youth the sense of personal responsibility that leads
to moral behavior. He cites a growing body of scientific evidence from
a variety of academic disciplines that indicates that churches
ameliorate or cure many severe socioeconomic ills. “Let the liberal
elite argue church-state issues…all the way to the next funeral of
an innocent kid caught in the crossfire,” he says. “Our guiding
principle should be, `Build churches, not jails’–or we will reap the
whirlwind of our own moral bankruptcy.” (5)
DiIulio’s “super predators” are born of abject “moral
poverty,” which he defines as: The poverty of being without loving,
capable, responsible adults who teach you right from wrong. It is the
poverty of being without parents, guardians, relatives, friends,
teachers, coaches, clergy and others who habituate you to feel joy at
others’ joy, pain at others’ pain, happiness when you do right,
remorse when you do wrong. It is the poverty of growing up in the
virtual absence of people who teach these lessons by their own
everyday example, and who insist that you follow suit and behave
accordingly. In the extreme, it is the poverty of growing up
surrounded by deviant, delinquent, and criminal adults in chaotic,
dysfunctional, fatherless, Godless, and jobless settings where drug
abuse and child abuse are twins, and self-respecting young men
literally aspire to get away with murder.


Scholars who study drugs and crime are only now beginning to
realize the social consequences of raising so many children in abject
moral poverty. The need to rebuild and resurrect the civil society
(families, churches, community groups) of high-crime, drug-plagued
urban neighborhoods is not an intellectual or research hypothesis that
requires testing. It’s a moral and social imperative that requires
doing – and doing now. (9)
It can be assumed -quite logically- by the lay person that the
“super predator” is actually a young psychopath or psychotic. While
these terms have become largely interchangeable, thanks in large part
to Hollywood, there are distinct differences between the psychopath,
the psychotic, and the Super Predator.
British Columbia Psychologist Robert Hare, has done some
ground breaking research into the study of psychopaths and has found
that psychopaths tend to underutilize regions of the brain that
integrate memories and emotions. These findings helped support long
held theories that the destructive nature of psychopaths were
neurobiological in nature. But, aside from the neurobiological aspects
of psychopathic behavior: The psychopath knows right from wrong; they
are quite often charming, glib and impulsive individuals. They often
brag about grandiose life ambitions, but often lack the skills or the
discipline to achieve their goals. Psychopaths are easily bored and
crave immediate gratification. It has been found that psychopaths,
quite often, have very high intelligence quotients. When caught in a
lie, the psychopath will shift blame, or switch topics with no
apparent embarrassment. They do not form deep or meaningful
relationships, and often end up hurting people who get close to them.
While they are intellectually aware of societies rules, they feel no
guilt when they break them. (8)
While many of the aspects described above fit the profile of
the “Super Predator”, there are some important differences. The
“super predator” are almost completely without ambition, they are
often of below average intelligence, and they do not recognize
-intellectually or otherwise- any rules of society. While psychopaths
and the “super-predator” both share the inability to feel emotion, the
psychopath can feign it to achieve a result, the “super predator”
seems completely incapable of even that. More interestingly, the
“super predator” is remarkably candid. They will more often than not,
admit not only to their crimes, but as to the why, and as to the fact
that they did nothing wrong and would do it again.


Psychopathy does not always -in fact quite the contrary-
manifest itself in criminality. In fact, a psychopath could be a
highly functioning and highly successful individual in society. In
contrast, the “super predator” lacks the intelligence or the “masking
capabilities” of the psychopath to achieve success outside of the
criminal world. (9)
The “super predator” is not psychotic. Psychotics are largely
out of touch with reality. They suffer from delusions, hallucinations,
or other disordered states. They are often found not guilty of crimes
they commit by reason of insanity. (8)
Today, especially in the inner cities, children, in the age
ranges of 5 to 9 yrs of age, are all to often left to their own
devices. They spend much of their time hanging out on the streets or
soaking up violent TV shows and violent rap music, they have easy
access to guns and drugs, and can be extremely dangerous. By the year
2005 they will be teenagers–a group that tends to be, in the view of
Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, “temporary
sociopaths…. impulsive and immature.”
There are currently 39 million children under 10 in the U.S.,
more than at any time since the 1950s. “This is the calm before the
crime storm,” says Fox. “So long as we fool ourselves in thinking that
we’re winning the war against crime, we may be blind sided by this
bloodbath of teenage violence that is lurking in the future.” Nearly
all the factors that contribute to youth crime -single-parent
households, child abuse, deteriorating inner-city schools – are
getting worse. At the same time, government is becoming less, not
more, interested in spending money to help break the cycle of poverty
and crime. (6)

Some Statistics On The Rise Of Juvenile Crime.
* The number of juvenile murderers tripled between 1984 and 1994.


* Youthful murderers using guns increased four-fold over the same
period.


* Juvenile gang killings have nearly quadrupled between 1980 and 1992.


* In 1994, eight in ten juvenile murderers used a firearm, up from
five in ten in 1983.


* The number of juveniles murdered increased 82 percent between 1984
and 1994.
* The nationwide juvenile arrest rate for violent crimes increased 50
percent between 1988 and 1994.
Source: U.S. Dept. Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency More Statistics
* Over the next ten years, the population of 14 to 17 year olds will
grow 23 percent, and the current generation of juveniles has already
brought us the worst juvenile crime rates in recorded history.


* Since 1965, the juvenile arrest rate has more than tripled, and over
the last ten years the homicide rate has more than doubled among 14 to
17 year olds.


* During the 1980s, the white juvenile crime rate grew twice as fast
as the black juvenile crime rate, and from 1983 to 1992, the arrest
rate for murder grew 166 percent among blacks, but also grew 94
percent among whites. The increasing juvenile murder rate coincides
with an increase in “stranger murders,” suggesting juvenile predators
are less discriminating in their targets.
* While in the past most murders occurred between family members and
friends, the FBI recently reported that 53 percent of homicides are
committed by strangers.


* “Stranger murders” are now four times as common as killings by
family members.


* Perpetrators of stranger murders have a better than 80 percent
chance of not being punished.
Source: Andrew Peyton Thomas (Assistant Attorney General for Arizona)

Local police, prosecutors, and inner-city preachers know that
the kids doing the violent crimes are more impulsively violent and
remorseless than ever. For instance, Philadelphia District Attorney
Lynne Abraham who sits on the Council on Crime in America, speaks of
the frightening reality of elementary school kids who pack guns
instead of lunches. Likewise, Dan Coburn, a former Superior Court
Justice and Public Defender in New Jersey, recently wrote that “This
new wrote horde from hell kills, maims, and terrorizes merely to
become known, or for no reason at all. These teens have no fear of
dying and no concept of living.”
Even maximum-security prisoners agree. When asked by Diiulio
what was triggering the explosion of violence among today’s young
street criminals, a group of long- and life-term New Jersey prisoners
did not voice the conventional explanations such as economic poverty
or joblessness. Instead, these hardened men cited the absence of
people – family, adults, teachers, preachers, coaches- who would care
enough about young males to nurture and discipline them. In the
vacuum, drug dealers and “gansta rappers” serve as role models. “I was
a bad-ass street gladiator,” one convicted murderer said, “but these
kids are stone-cold predators.” (10)
Even more shocking than the sheer volume of violent juvenile
crime is the brutality of the crime committed for trivial motives: a
pair of sneakers, a jacket, a real or imagined insult, a momentary
cheap thrill. For example:

* A 59-year-old man out on a morning stroll in Lake Tahoe was fatally
shot four times by teenagers “looking for someone to scare.” The
police say the four teenagers – just 15 and 16 years old – were
“thrill shooting.”
* A 12-year-old and two other youths were charged with kidnapping a
57-year-old man and taking a joy ride in his Toyota. As the man
pleaded for his life, the juveniles shot him to death.
* A 14-year-old boy was murdered while trying to reclaim a $2,500
stereo system he had received from his grandfather. Five juveniles,
ranging in age from 15 through 17 years, were charged with the crime.
(10)

Profiles
In every community, roughly 2 percent of the juvenile offender
population is responsible for up to 60 percent of the violent juvenile
crime. Only 25 to 35 juveniles in every 100,000 members of the
population will engage in criminal activity that matches the Serious
Habitual Offender pattern. Based on criteria developed by the Reagan
team at the Department of Justice, this means that 0.03 percent to
0.04 percent of all juveniles between 14 and 17 years old will be
SHOs.


A profile of a Serious Habitual Offender was collected from
data collected and analyzed by the Reagan Administration team at the
U.S. Department of Justice in the 1980s presents a graphic portrait of
the serious habitual offender: The typical SHO is male, 15 years and
six months old. He has been arrested 11 to 14 times, exclusive of
status offenses, and five times for felonies. He comes from a
dysfunctional family; and in 46 percent of cases, at least one of his
parents also has an arrest history. He has received long-term and
continuing social services from as many as six different community
service agencies, including family, youth, mental health, social
services, school, juvenile, or police authorities, and continues to
drain these resources for years before he is finally incarcerated as a
career criminal.


The typical SHO’s family history follows a classic pattern of
social pathologies: 53 percent of his siblings also have a history of
arrest; and in 59 percent of these cases, there is no father figure in
the home. The absence of a father is particularly destructive for
boys; only 2 percent of SHOs are female. Furthermore, 68 percent of
these offenders have committed crimes of violence, 15 percent have a
history of committing sex crimes, and 51 percent have a reported
missing or runaway record.


If a broken family characterized by physical or sexual abuse
is an early indicator of criminal behavior, then virtually all of
these serious habitual offenders fit this category. These findings are
consistent with the Heritage Foundation’s widely reported analysis of
the true root causes of violent crime, particularly the crimogenic
conditions associated with broken or dysfunctional families. (10)

* SHOs do not consider the crimes they have committed to be all that
bad.


* Forty-five percent are gang members, 64 percent associate with other
serious habitual offenders, and 75 percent abuse drugs.

Recent studies show that illegal drug use among the young is
on the rise and a significant majority of all present day SHOs
-“Super Predators”- use or sell illegal drugs and often become
addicted themselves. Illegal drug use and alcohol abuse tend to be
regular features of their criminal conduct. Drugs, in particular, are
part of the criminal scene of these juvenile offenders, and the use
and sale of drugs contributes significantly to a SHO’s other criminal
activity. The need to purchase illegal drugs, combined with the warped
hedonism of the addict, shapes and drives much of the criminal
activity of this class of criminals.
Conclusion:
Juvenile crime and violence is on the rise. Many
criminologists are calling it an epidemic, a ticking time bomb, the
calm before the storm and a long descent into night, you choose the
cliche’. The reasons for this rise in teen crime seems to have its
roots not so much in poverty as it does to poverty of values. Experts
like John DiIulio and James Q.Wilson believe that the cure lies in a
renaissance of personal responsibility, and a reassertion of
responsibility over rights and community over egoism.
There is definitely a need for more study on the new breed of
teen criminal -“the Super Predator”- But we don’t need yet another
library full of jargon-riddled criminology studies to tell us what the
Roman sages knew: what society does to children, children will do to
society.
While most in the education as well as the psychological
fields blanch Whenever the terms values, church, responsibility, and
family, are bandied about. But the inescapable reality is that since
the sixties, when these terms were castigated and relegated to “being
quaint”, we have witnessed an incredibly fast and pernicious rise in
the types of pathologies that have accompanied the decline of the
family structure. While I am by no means a religious zealot, it seems
to me that government has been a poor substitute for the family and
the church in teaching basic core values. Government certainly has a
role to play financially, but the strictures and the applications of
any type of largess need to come from Community leaders or clergy
members who have a real stake in the community.


While it is tragic that there seem to be a large number of
“lost youths” mired in a life of crime and violence, the safety of the
community, especially the children in the community, should be the
primary concern. While I agree with John DiIulio, that we need more
churches, I also feel that if more jails need to be built to house
young thugs, build them. If children as young as 7, 8, or 9 yrs of age
need to be incarcerated like adults, do it. While this may seem harsh,
I believe that it is the only way to prevent further decay. With
harsher enforcement of laws towards violent minors enforced, attention
can be paid to addressing the ills that create the problem; family
decay.
More attention needs to be paid to the people who actually
live in the communities affected. We must deal with this problem of
the “super predator” teen thug swiftly and harshly, before it’s too
late to save the children in danger of falling in with or becoming
victims of crime themselves.



Bibliography
1- Ethnic NewsWatch SoftLine Information, Inc., Stamford, CT
2- F.R. Duplantier, The Importance Of Fathers 08-16-1995, HERITAGE
FOUNDATION HOME PAGE
3-Worsham, James-Blakely, Stephen-al, et, Crime and drugs.., Vol. 85,
Nation’s Business, 02-01-1997, pp 24.


4-Julia Duin, Alarm over crime puts focus on nation’s `moral crisis’.,
The Washington Times, 11-17-1996, pp 31.


5-Parker, Shafer, Violence with a youthful face.., Vol. 23, Alberta
Report /Western Report, 06-17-1996, pp 27.


6- Richard Zoglin Reported By Sam Allis/Boston And Ratu Kamlani/NEW
YORK,CRIME: NOW FOR THE BAD NEWS: A TEENAGE TIME BOMB., TIME,
01-15-1996, pp 52+.


7-NINA J. EASTON, The Crime Doctor Is In; But Not Everyone Likes Prof.
JohnDiIulio’s Message: There Is No Big Fix; Home Edition., Los Angeles
Times, 05-02-1995, pp E-1.


8-Paul Kaihla, NO CONSCIENCE, NO REMORSE. MACLEAN’s 1/22/96
9- William J. Bennett, John J. DiIulio, Jr., and John P. Walters BODY




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