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When Children Kill

When Children Kill: A Social-Psychological Study of Youth Homicide

Katharine D. Kelly
Mark Totten
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 282
  • Book Info
    When Children Kill
    Book Description:

    This groundbreaking book addresses a critical gap in the literature, highlighting the importance of community-based early intervention, prevention, assessment and rehabilitation.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0308-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. One Theories of Youth Homicide
    (pp. 1-20)

    This is Phillip’s¹ account of the homicide he committed. Phillip had been a troubled young man before the murder, with significant psychiatric problems and a history of violent outbursts. As this study demonstrates, he and the others we interviewed are not simply “monsters” who murder. Rather, they are troubled young people whose childhood and adolescent histories contributed to their killings and involvement with the criminal justice system. While adolescent homicides have garnered much attention and outrage over the past number of years, the problems these young people experienced prior to these acts have remained virtually invisible. Instead, public concern has...

  6. Two Studying Youth Homicide
    (pp. 21-50)

    In this chapter we introduce the study of youth homicide in Canada: its extent or number, the issue of youth homicide rates, and the Canadian statistics on youth homicides. Although crime data (even homicide statistics) have been collected in a variety of ways over the past century, the information recorded has changed; age is not always recorded, and the definition of “youth” has varied. Sometimes convictions are recorded, other times, only charges (and not all youth that are charged are convicted). This makes comparisons of trends difficult. Finally, we will discuss our study: its methodology and ethics, the questionnaire design...

  7. Three The Role of Early Childhood Experiences
    (pp. 51-100)

    In this chapter, we study the life courses of our participants, beginning with their endowment at birth and continuing with their experiences to age 12 in their families, communities, schools, and other institutional settings. We conclude this chapter with a discussion of the positive (protective) and negative features in their lives. From birth our participants had a range of abilities—some had problems such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and learning disabilities, and others were endowed with superior intelligence or athletic prowess. They also had diverse experiences during childhood. Some had primarily positive childhood experiences, while others had primarily negative experiences....

  8. Four Lessons Learned in Adolescence
    (pp. 101-142)

    By the age of 12 our participants had had a range of negative experiences. Most were dealing with the impact of bullying, poverty, neglect, abuse, or racism, which was reflected in feelings of shame, humiliation, powerlessness, and low self-esteem. A minority were in good shape emotionally, with school success and solid family situations providing them with support. As our 19 participants moved into their teen years, they had new positive and negative experiences, and increasingly they struggled with negative feelings. These experiences and related responses by our participants played a critical role in their involvement in the homicides.

    As children...

  9. Five Homicides in Context
    (pp. 143-190)

    As we have shown, the young offenders we interviewed had diverse experiences in their families, with their peers, and in their communities. They had a range of contacts with the educational, mental health, child welfare, and criminal justice systems as they were growing up. These experiences, combined with their feelings of anger, rage, shame, and humiliation, and the youth sub-cultures to which they belonged, all contributed to their involvement in the homicides. In this chapter we attempt to put the homicides into context. We follow the model discussed in Chapter 3, which connects past histories, immediate conditions, and the homicides...

  10. Six Charged and Convicted: Experiences in Custody and the Community
    (pp. 191-246)

    In this chapter we examine the custodial and release experiences of our participants. Sentencing and custodial experiences were affected by the legislation that young people were convicted under and the type of crimes committed. Custodial assignments, particularly whether young people were tried as youth or adult offenders and whether they were held in youth or adult facilities, were also important in shaping their experiences, as were remand time (time spent in custody prior to conviction), sentence length, and treatment and programs received in custody.

    The legal response to young people in conflict with the law and in particular to those...

  11. Seven Conclusion
    (pp. 247-254)

    This book has explored the lives of 19 young people who were convicted of homicide. Although their lives and experiences were diverse, they have one thing in common: they were all victims of harm. Some had been severely traumatized and had multiple sources of harm; others were relatively unscathed. Those who were less resilient suffered more severely.

    What were the sources of harm? They included factors that most people recognize as damaging—child abuse and neglect, exposure to parental violence, and parents who were addicted, mentally ill, or involved in crime. But they also included features such as learning disabilities,...

  12. A Appendix A: Youth Homicide Study Questionnaire
    (pp. 255-266)
  13. B Appendix B: Youth Homicide Study Informed Consent Form
    (pp. 267-268)
  14. References
    (pp. 269-282)