The Bad Seed

So I’m waiting for the furnace repairman to come this morning… and I left the TV on past 9:00, when I’d normally be at work.

Today’s Maury Povich dealt with rebellious 8-10 year olds. These kids were truly out of control… drinking, cigarettes, cursing, stealing, even trashing Maury’s green room while waiting to go on.

Maury’s solution was to send them all to a “boot camp” type environment. I have no idea what the outcome will be (being disinclined to follow up by taping tomorrow’s show) but it did get me thinking of the nature vs. nuture topic, and this specific application of it.

It seems to me that if the kids got this way because of poor parenting (which I can easily believe, given the abysmal parents that were also on the show) will a short boot-camp change them at all, since they’re going right back to the parents? And if it’s their nature to be incorrigible, obviously boot camp won’t help, either.

So what’s the answer? Can a lack of discipline turn a kid into a maurading monster? Or are some kids just the fruit of a bad seed?

  • Rick

I wonder if it is more a question of the power of television will have any power over their responses tomorrow.
I would take it with a grain of salt.

You can blame the Parents, Society, anything really. At the end of the day they need to learn discipline.

Krusty Opinionated told me to use American Swear words. so I will.

“Bite Me”

Rick asked:


Sorry, couldn’t resist. IMO, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. While certain chemically-dependent predispositions are hereditary (alcoholism, maybe schizophrenia, etc), behavior is also inherited. Abusers teach their children to be abusers. Addicts teach their kids to be addicts. And so it goes.

These kids are destroying a green room on national television. They’re gettign away with it and are being rewarded for it. Is it any wonder then that they act as they do?

Yes, I think a boot camp can work, if it can drive into a kid’s head (hell, an adult’s as well for that matter) that actions have consequences.


I think it’s nature,somewhat influenced by nurture. I mean, how bad could the parents of Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer and Stalin have BEEN?

But were Hitler Stalin, et al. bad kids? Irrelevant. We’re not talking about choices made by adults, Eve, we’re talking about children. Adults are presumed to be able to make decisions and be held fully accountable for them.


This has been hit on before by talk show hosts. Heck, every three Sally Jessie Raphael shows feature her sending a bunch of teens and pre-teens to either boot-camp or jail!

Usually, at the end of second taping most, if not all of them are whimpering messes, promising mommy and daddy they wont to it again.

And usually, it the postscript to the show, a few months later, about half of the kids have relapsed into their old behaviors. Of course it can be argued that the kids were putting on a show for the cameras, the parents went back to being poor parents…

If you want to get all psychological about it, we can talk about the phenomenon of NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT where children learn that bad behavior elicits attention from the parents, peers, etc., while good behavior is ignored. The child soon decides that any recognition is better than no recognition and becomes Bart Simpson, or worse.

I brought up my son as a single parent. I had really serious problems with him when he turned 16. There were several reasons that I know for a fact contributed to the problems. I gave him too much without making him earn it in an effort to compensate for him not having a full time father. The people that he chose as his friends were definitely a horrible influence on him. I could go on and on. But as far as bad seed? I don’t think that I’m bad seed. Nor do I think his father is bad seed.

“Do or do not, there is no try” - Yoda

Senior Intern to
El Presidente
Self-Righteous Clique *

Kunilou, I was thinking of the same Simpsons analogy- the “Be Like The Boy” episode was sticking in my mind when reading the OP. The kids probably got a lot more attention wrecking the green room than if they had tidied it up for Maury.

I think its a combination of nature and nurture