What Should One Do If Someone Has a Bad Seed Child?

I’m glad I’ll never face this problem. I venture to say you Dopers out there won’t either.

But I just finished reading the book Columbine, by Dave Cullen. He makes a convincing case that Eric Harris, one of the Columbine killers was a full-blown murderous psychopath, and nothing could’ve changed him.

Eric’s parents apparently had little idea what their son was really up to, and neither did the parents of Dylan Klebold, the other killer. Cullen paints Dylan as a weak-willed depressed person instead of a psychopath, but still…

But suppose you had a child, and you were a little more observant or nosy or whatever, and you found out your child had all the traits of a full-blown psychopathic killer. Suppose you found out your kid was planning a rampage a full year in advance like these two were.

I’m just wondering what anyone could really do in a case like this. Eric and Dylan both had been through law enforcement mandated programs for troubled kids, and they just bullshitted their way through like a lot of psychopaths can.

So, I guess, my question is, if you find out your teenager, (or younger?) is planning something heinous, what could you do to prevent it?

Moving from MPSIMS to IMHO.

I don’t know, but you raise an interesting point.

There’s a family at church with this problem; and I think on some level they know they have this problem. They have two sons, “A” and “B.” “A,” the oldest, is about 11 and behaves like a typical 11-year-old boy; rowdy, somewhat obnoxious, but generally decent when pointed in the right direction.

“B” is the younger, about 9. “B” is … borderline evil. He is a disruptive, foul-mouthed, bullying, biting, screaming, hitting machine. He’s terrorized and antagonized so many other kids at church that he is banned from every Sunday School classroom, and he is allowed to attend church social events if and only if his mother is RIGHT THERE with him. I remember at Vacation Bible School last summer his mom had to go to the bathroom or something and the children’s minister appointed me to sit, one on one, in a room with just me and “B.” He was given colored pencils and drawing paper to keep himself occupied. He drew Nazis.

Seriously, the kid’s a psycopath. As in, he needs psychiatric care (not just better parenting). I hope his parents will see this and attempt to address it before he reaches his teens and there’s another Columbine.

I would give the kid a lot of sleeping pills, then shoot myself in the head. No, wait…that won’t work.

Call the police. There have been any number of cases where mass murderers were discovered just before they did the deed, and this would end up as one more.

I guess the authorities need better bullshit detectors, then. Any any event, I figure that’s pretty much the only resource a parent has for a kid who is on track to become the next monster on the evening news. Once you’ve alerted them, there’s not a lot more you can do.

That is a good question, but a very bad example. The parents of Eric and Dylan were terrible parents and in the final analysis, allowed Dylan and Eric to do what they did.

YOur example has the police, the courts, the probation officers, and the parents all working together to create an Eric and a Dylan obviously criminal and running wild and then putting them into a “gun-free zone” of a building full of defenseless victims. What Eric and Dylan ended up doing in a “gun-free zone” was almost predictable.

Your example is too full of the worst. Your question would be better asked if you could find an example of “good” and responsible parents who tried to bring up their kids correctly ended up with a bad seed.

What evidence do you have for this assertion?

There is no evidence that Harris and Klebold’s parents were especially “bad” in any way - abusive, neglectful, uninvolved, or otherwise.

I don’t see how the parents of Klebold and Harris could NOT know that their sons were seriously mentally ill.
They made a MOVIE (videotape) about what they planned to do (go to school and murder people)-and nobody thought this was abnormal?
How about the practice sessions-with live firing?
Seriously, these kids were giving out all kinds of signals-and their parents ignored them. These two little bastards should have been packed off to a mental hospital.

Harris did not have a diagnosed mental illness, although there is circumstantial evidence that he may have been a psychopath. Klebold might have had a mental illness, based on the content of some of his writing (which were idiosyncratic in a manner typical of pre-morbid schizophrenia), although it was never diagnosed.

Plenty of kids make videos of themselves and their friends, without ever showing those videos to their parents.

Plenty of kids in Colorado go shooting in the woods. Hell, plenty of adults do that out here.

There were few signals of this level of violence. They did participate in a court-ordered program when they were caught breaking into cars to steal stuff.

I get that people want there to be someone to blame for Columbine, for without someone to blame, we can’t feel safe at night. Parents, of course, are easiest to blame when a kid does something wrong.

And to me, with the medical model of mental illness in vogue, the tendency is for many people to mistakenly invoke some type of neurobiological cause for misbehavior.

I tend to think of the vast majority of personality disorders as being shaped primarily by the child’s early experiences, and most importantly their family relationships.

One of the primary hallmarks of family dysfunction is secrecy about what happens behind closed doors.

The research is not consistent on what contributes to a personality disorder. Certainly there are some family dynamics that contribute to the development of one, but in the case of a psychopath, the research is still very much out about the contributing factors. Harris was not a diagnosed psychopath, but the content of his writings in her personal journal and his reported behaviors toward certain people strongly hint toward that possibility.

Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders are not personality disorders, and have a strong biological component. Klebold was not diagnosed, but the content of his writings are extremely idiosyncratic, with neologisms and flights of ideas that are somewhat typical of the pre-morbid thought process of a person who is developing a psychotic disorder. There is some research that certain types of family dynamics may contribute to the expression of psychotic symptoms, but again, that research does not point to family dynamics as the sole cause.

Friends and other family members of the Harris and Klebold families have been extensively interviewed, and close friends of Harris and Klebold have also been extensively interviewed, and there has not been any evidence found that supports the idea that those parents were, behind closed doors, monstrously dysfunctional.

The most prominent working model of mental health and mental illness is the bio-psycho-social model, in which biological, psychological, and social forces interact in different ways to create different outcomes. It’s fascinating to me that in some situations, people want to place the blame SOLELY on one of those categories, and yet in other situations, flip easily to another. In the case of Columbine, it’s all the parents. In the case of Jared Loughner, it’s all the biology.

This. right. here.

These two were not typical kids that one day surprised everybody with their actions.

They had been through mandated programs for breaking into cars and stealing the contents.

C’mon. Everyone knows that auto burglary is the gateway crime to mass murder.


Look, I’m not saying that signs weren’t missed - UPON HINDSIGHT, there were some signs that were concerning. But the problem with hindsight is that we’re all putting together a lot of different information from a lot of different sources, none of which were, at the time, communicating with each other.

The Jeffco Sheriff’s office diversion program wasn’t communicating with teachers who might have seen violent imagery in their submissions (and like Harris and Klebold are the only punk-ass teen provocateurs to use that in English comp class).

The teachers weren’t communicating what they were seeing to the Sheriff’s office.

The parents may or may not have had concerns, but based on the number of stories that get told around here about oblivious parents or parents that simply aren’t clued in to their kids, those parents are certainly not unusual in not knowing what their teenagers (an age group naturally reticent to discuss their lives with, OMG, their PARENTS! GROSS!) are up to.

Harris and Klebold, from all account from a lot of different people who are unconnected, really didn’t act in public all that differently from a lot of other teens. Yea, they were in a diversion program, but for relatively low-level crimes. They made homemade videos, but lots of kids do that, and most of the videos weren’t seen until after the events. They shot guns in the woods - that’s, like, mandatory around here, and in a lot of states. But these were disconnected events, until after the fact they were identified as problematic.

And that’s why, in the time sense, we’ve gotten MORE aware of what we need to pay attention to, in terms of warning signs. And why a lot of kids are being hassled for dumb shit.

So you want to put the lion share of the blame on the hassling and bullying they experienced?

I’m sorry, their parents have to have the bulk of the blame, if we’re going to go around and put it anywhere. You can’t just let the parents off because “the number of stories that get told around here about oblivious parents or parents that simply aren’t clued in to their kid”. Tough shit. Most parents get lucky their kids aren’t about to go over the deep end. That doesn’t excuse bad parenting.

Harris and Klebold weren’t especially bullied at school, according to interviews with their closest friends. Some of the information indicates that Harris actually was a pretty good bully himself.

No, my statement was that after Columbine, a lot of kids are being hassled by parents and/or teachers for doing things like writing about death in their English classes. I’ve seen colleagues of mine go apeshit when students write about dark or disturbing imagery in their papers, or even do nothing but wear all black (and Harris and Klebold weren’t even in the Trench Coat Mafia, as people claim).

In fact, their parents may be required to bear some of the blame, yes. The bio-psycho-social model of mental illness does recognize that some social situations are more likely to contribute to behavioral issues or mental illness than others.

But again, there’s no evidence from a massive amount of investigation that the Harris and Klebold parents were “bad” parents. Oblivious to certain aspects of their children’s behavior? Sure. Like a lot of parents of teens. Continuing to focus on the parents only negates looking at other forces such as Harris and Klebold’s own predelictions.

Continue to insist that the parents are completely 100% at fault for Columbine doesn’t make it so. As much as we’d like it to be that simple. A simple explanation for Columbine would ensure that it would never happen again, or at least it wouldn’t happen in our neighborhoods. Or with our children. That, again, allows us to feel a measure of comfort and control.

Columbine was due to a complex combination of factors, some of which are still not even fully understood.

Just to get away from Columbine to make it more general…

If the child is already a bad seed & gets addicted hard drugs, then cut them out of your life. You can’t help them & they will take the rest of the family down with them.

Yea, sorry for the hijack, OP.

A friend of mine fostered and then adopted two children from extremely abused/neglected homes, at relatively advanced ages (more than two years old). Both of those children exhibited behavioral problems from the moment they arrived in her house. She explored every type of therapy available, for years. Nothing created any change in their behavior, and as they grew, their behavior escalated until the point where she was afraid for her own safety as well as the safety of her husband and their farm animals.

The girl started running away at 12, doing drugs at that time, escalating to working as a prostitute start (as far as she could tell) at 15. She ended up having to allow her daughter to be institutionalized or placed in corrections, depending on where the daughter would show up, because bringing the daughter home would only result in her stealing everything she could get her hands on, physically attacking them, and running away again. There were times when her daughter told her she (the daughter) was planning to attack other people, and my friend always notified the police.

The daughter disappeared for several months until she was found working as an escort in CA. The authorities brought her back because she was still under 18, and she remained in custody until, I think, she was 20, at which point she disappeared.

She calls her mother only when she needs money. Her mother has had to endure ongoing verbal abuse when she refuses to provide money.

The brother is not quite as unstable, but close.

She cannot have a normal relationship with them. She accepts their phone calls, and calls them when she can locate them, but she cannot allow them into her house or into her life in any meaningful way. She does not provide them with any financial support, because they do not follow through with what they claim to need the money for.

It is a source of great distress for her.