You know what really scares me about this 11-year-old kid who has committed a series of arsons in, ironically, Flint (rock?) Michigan? This is one angry, messed-up kid. How does an 11-year-old child become a serial felon? I have a few theories, mostly based on research I’ve done about criminal adolescents and teens.
- poor parenting – there is no supervision or a sense of love and affection in this kid’s life
- neglect – how do you not know where your 11-year-old is at midnight and later?
- abuse – where else does anger come from?
- adult addiction – we don’t know yet if the child is from parents who are addicted to drugs and alcohol but that wouldn’t surprise me
- instability – perhaps there is chaos in the household – a parent who keeps coming and going; a father or mother who divorces and re-marries on a continual basis; boyfriends and girlfriends of the parents who come and go; foster child who has never had one stable family
- sexual impropriety – not quite the same as sexual abuse, I’m referring to parents who expose the child to adult situations: allowing the child to watch hardcore porn; leaving explicitly sexual magazines around the house for the child to find; having sex with parents in front of the child
- emotional angst – parents who tell their kid s/he was unwanted from the start, and that the child will never amount to anything
- genetics – who knows? Some families are decent, loving families but the child just doesn’t turn out to be a good person. Who knows why?
- criminal friends – sometimes young kids fall in with a bad crowd.
David Cox, fire chief for the town of Flint, said he caught the young boy after a fire was started. The dude is a terror. “The whole neighborhood knew [the children were responsible]. When I chased him [down], five or six neighbors came out and cheered.”
This doesn’t sound like a child who can be rehabilitated. He has committed at least 3 felonies, with a callous disregard for human life. A friend of mine, a teacher, knows a child who burned his own house down at the age of 7. He has so many issues it’s difficult to catalogue them all:
- refuses to attend school on a pretty regular basis
- arrives late to school every day because he wants to sleep in
- calls his grandmother and mother “f–ken bit–es”
- bullies vulnerable, lonely children
- calls teachers “ass–les” and has pointed his third finger at them on numerous occasions
- steals and lies
- attention-seeking in a very loud, rude manner in class and elsewhere
- mocks teachers and students
- has no remorse but lots of self-pity when caught
- is an extremely angry kid
If this child doesn’t end up in juvenile detention by the time he is 12-years-old I will be very surprised. It’s quite fitting that angry children would become arsonists. Their crimes reflect the burning rage that consumes them and everyone around them.