04900_toy_rabbitby paulabowles

British news has reported that two young brothers (aged 10 and 11) have been arrested in South Yorkshire for their alleged torture and assault of two younger boys.
This case has once again raised the many emotive issues surrounding children who behave violently. Johann Hari of The Independent takes the opportunity to revisit the case of Mary Bell – as well as a brief reminder of the murder of James Bulger – concluding that ‘[t]he child who kills is the child who never had a chance’.

Hari, like many others, believes that by looking at the background of the children involved in these cases, we can begin to understand their use of violence. This should not be seen as an attempt to excuse their actions, but rather to go further than simply bandying accusations of “evil”. Although, much of Hari’s article has been said before, where he perhaps differs is in his acknowledgement of the media’s role in cases such as these. By focusing on the supposed inherent “evil” of these children, the media misses the point, in turn creating panic and fear. As Johann Hari asks:

‘Haven’t we progressed enough since the Middle Ages to see these truths, and reject the barbaric theology of “evil” children?’

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square-eye7Jennifer A. Reich on The Child Welfare System and State Intervention in Families