With all the speculation out there right now about “mental health” and its relationship to mass shootings, I decided to answer the question, how can a kid kill?
To be blunt, when a kid can kill, it’s because they have suffered tremendous emotional and/or physical pain during the first few years of their life.
I know that might sound ridiculous, but it’s true. Here’s why.
Too much stress, fear, or trauma damages a developing infant’s brain. And it’s super easy to stress out, frighten, or traumatize an infant. If they don’t get what they want quickly enough: Boom. Stressed out infant.
Unfortunately, when an infant is left alone too long with stress, fear, or trauma, the development of critical parts of its brain are damaged or incomplete. This creates a kid who is unable to “self-regulate,” because they’re missing the parts of their brain that they need in order to do so. And a kid who can’t “self-regulate,” is angry, out-of-control, and easy to dislike. Which is a problem that snowballs as they age.
Additionally, a kid who can kill has no conscience—or a poorly developed one
Failure to develop a conscience happens early too, as its foundation is formed during the first year of life.
During that year, what’s supposed to happen is that “trust” is established through the hundreds of thousands of “need-meeting” moments between caregivers and a baby. This “trust” is the foundation of a conscience.
That’s because when a baby learns to trust the people who care for it during the Shangri-La of the first year of life, then when those same people begin to impose boundaries and say “no,” during its second year of life, the child has reason to trust those boundaries. The child trusts and feels safely attached to the person who is telling them no, so their protests are more moderate than those of a child who has not developed that same trust.
The opposite occurs when needs have not been met consistently, with loving attention. Stress, fear, and trauma, among other failures, disrupt this pattern. A child develops a lack of trust in those who care for him. And possibly even feelings of suspicion and hostility toward them. He doesn’t care for them or their needs and desires because his were not cared for. On top of that, he doesn’t like himself.
We learn to care for ourselves and our own needs, as well as those of others, by having repeated experiences of getting what we needed when we needed it.
Any child whose needs weren’t met, and whose early relationships were “disrupted,” by repeated, overwhelming stress, fear, trauma, and/or neglect is a child who is ripe to act violently toward others.
No, it’s not the video games.
As you can see, the problems leading to violence toward others happen long before a child ever grabs a game controller and starts shooting.
They are first, angry, emotionally isolated people who are missing some critical brain functions and have not learned appropriate ways to control their anger. Video games may fuel their fire if damage has already been done. But video games will not compel an emotionally well-cared-for individual to devise a plan to pick up a real gun and kill innocent people.
Kids who feel seen, safe, and secure, don’t kill. The ones who’ve been traumatized do.
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