Study on Juvenile Psychopaths


What is the "super predator"? He or she are young 
hypercriminals who are committing acts of violence of unprecedented
coldness and brutality. This newest phenomena in the world of crime is 
perhaps the most dangerous challenge facing society and law 
enforcement ever. While psychopaths are not new, this breed of super 
criminal exceeds the scope of psychopathic behavior. They are younger, 
more brutal, and completely unafraid of the law. While current 
research on the super predator is scarce, I will attempt to give an 
indication as to the reasons a child could become just such a monster.

 Violent teenage criminals are increasingly vicious. John 
DiIulio, Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at Princeton 
University, says that "The difference between the juvenile criminals 
of the 1950s and those of the 1970s and early 1980s was the difference 
between the Sharks and the Jets of West Side Story and the Bloods and 
the Crips. It is not inconceivable that the demographic surge of the 
next ten years will bring with it young criminals who make the Bloods 
and the Crips look tame." (10) They are what Professor DiIulio and 
others call urban "super predators"; young people, often from broken 
homes or so-called dysfunctional families, who commit murder, rape, 
robbery, kidnapping, and other violent acts. These emotionally damaged
young people, often are the products of sexual or physical abuse. They 
live in an aimless and violent present; have no sense of the past and 
no hope for the future; they commit unspeakably brutal crimes against 
other people, often to gratify whatever urges or desires drive them at 
the moment and their utter lack of remorse is shocking.(9) 

 Studies reveal that the major cause of violent crime is not 
poverty but family breakdown - specifically, the absence of a father 
in the household. Today, right now, one-fourth of all the children in 
the United States are living in fatherless homes - this adds up to 19 
million children without fathers. Compared to children in two parent 
family homes, these children will be twice as likely to drop out of 
school, twice as likely to have children out of wedlock, and they 
stand more than three times the chance of ending up in poverty, and 
almost ten times more likely to commit violent crime and ending up in 
jail. (1)

 The Heritage Foundation - a Conservative think tank - reported 
that the rise in violent crime over the past 30 years runs directly
parallel to the rise in fatherless families. In every state in our 
country, according to the Heritage foundation, the rate for juvenile
crime "is closely linked to the percentage of children raised in 
single-parent families. And while it has long been thought that 
poverty is the primary cause of crime, the facts simply do not support 
this view. Teenage criminal behavior has its roots in habitual 
deprivation of parental love and affection going back to early 
infancy, according to the Heritage Foundation. 

 A father's attention to his son has enormous positive effects 
on a boy's emotional and social development. But a boy abandoned by 
his father in deprived of a deep sense of personal security, In a 
well-functioning family," he continued, "the very presence of the 
father embodies authority" and this paternal authority "is critical to 
the prevention of psychopathology and delinquency." (2)

 On top of the problem of single parent homes, is the problem 
of the children whose behavioral problems are linked to their mothers' 
crack use during pregnancy. These children are reaching their teenage 
years and this is "a potentially very aggressive population," 
according to Sheldon Greenberg, director of Johns Hopkins University's 
Police Executive Leadership Program. What's more, drug use has more 
than doubled among 12- to 17-year-olds since 1991. "The overwhelming 
common factor that can be isolated in determining whether young people 
will be criminal in their behavior is moral poverty," Greenberg says. 

 According to the recently published "Body Count: Moral Poverty 
. . . and How to Win America' s War Against Crime and Drugs," a new 
generation of "super-predators, " untouched by any moral inclinations, 
will hit America's streets in the next decade. John DiIulio, the 
Brookings Institute fellow who co-wrote the book with William Bennett 
and John Walters, calls it a "multi variate phenomenon, " meaning that 
child abuse, the high number of available high-tech guns, alcoholism 
and many other factors feed the problem. University of Pennsylvania 
professor Mavin Wolfgang says, "6 percent to 7 percent of the boys in 
an age group will be chronic offenders, meaning they are arrested five 
or more times before the age of 18." If that holds true, because there 
will be 500,000 more boys ages 14 to 17 in the year 2000 than there 
were in 1995, there will be at least 30,000 more youth criminals on 
the streets. Between 1990 and 2010, there will be 4.5 million more 
boys, yielding 270,000 young criminals.

 "The big destruction happens early," Heritage Foundation 
fellow Pat Fagan says. "By the age of 4 or 5, the kid is really 
warped. Psychologists can predict by the age of 6 who'll be the 
super-predators." According to Fagan: Child abuse and alcohol ruin 
these children. But the groundwork was laid three decades ago with the 
widespread adoption of birth control, which made the sexual revolution 
possible. It altered people's dedication to their children and altered 
a fundamental orientation of society. Sexual morality got unanchored 
in the 1960s, followed by the legalization of abortion.

 "Abortion is a very definite rejection of the child. So is 
out-of- wedlock births, as well as divorce," he says. "The [predators]
everyone' s afraid of were abused kids. There's sexual abuse and 
alcohol, and just the general decline in the cultural knowledge of 
what love is. " In 1950, for every 100 children born, he says, 12 had 
divorced parents or were born out of wedlock. In 1992, that number had 
quadrupled to 60 children for every 100 born. Throw abortion into the 
mix, and the number shoots up to 92 per 100. (4)

 John Dilulio asserts that "each generation of crime-prone boys 
has been about three times as dangerous as the one before it." And, he 
argues, the downhill slide into utter moral bankruptcy is about to 
speed up because each generation of youth criminals is growing up in 
more extreme conditions of "moral poverty" than the one before it. Mr. 
Dilulio defines moral poverty as "growing up surrounded by deviant, 
delinquent, and criminal adults in abusive, violence-ridden, 
fatherless, Godless, and jobless settings." 

 The "super-predator", as told to a Washington press gathering 
by DiIulio, is a breed of criminal so dangerous that even the older 
inmates working their way through life sentences complain that their 
youthful counterparts are out of control. He describes these teen 
criminals as "radically present-oriented". Because their time horizon 
may be as short as the next guard's shift, they have no capacity to 
defer gratification for the sake of the future. When these "super- 
predators" were asked by DiIulio or other inmates if they would commit 
their crimes again, most answer, "Why not?" DiIulio also says, they 
are "radically self-regarding incapable of feeling joy or pain at the 
joy or pain of others." (7)

 According to Dilulio, today's juvenile super-predators are 
driven by two profound developmental defects. They are radically
present-oriented, perceiving no relationship between action and 
reaction--reward or punishment--and they are radically self-regarding. 
Nothing is sacred to them. They live only for what brings them 
pleasure and a sense of power, placing "zero value on the lives of 
their victims." 

 Ultimately, concludes Mr. Dilulio, only a return to religion 
will restore to youth the sense of personal responsibility that leads 
to moral behavior. He cites a growing body of scientific evidence from 
a variety of academic disciplines that indicates that churches 
ameliorate or cure many severe socioeconomic ills. "Let [the liberal 
elite] argue church-state issues...all the way to the next funeral of 
an innocent kid caught in the crossfire," he says. "Our guiding 
principle should be, `Build churches, not jails'--or we will reap the 
whirlwind of our own moral bankruptcy." (5)

 DiIulio's "super predators" are born of abject "moral 
poverty," which he defines as: The poverty of being without loving,
capable, responsible adults who teach you right from wrong. It is the 
poverty of being without parents, guardians, relatives, friends, 
teachers, coaches, clergy and others who habituate you to feel joy at 
others' joy, pain at others' pain, happiness when you do right, 
remorse when you do wrong. It is the poverty of growing up in the 
virtual absence of people who teach these lessons by their own 
everyday example, and who insist that you follow suit and behave 
accordingly. In the extreme, it is the poverty of growing up 
surrounded by deviant, delinquent, and criminal adults in chaotic, 
dysfunctional, fatherless, Godless, and jobless settings where drug 
abuse and child abuse are twins, and self-respecting young men 
literally aspire to get away with murder.

 Scholars who study drugs and crime are only now beginning to 
realize the social consequences of raising so many children in abject 
moral poverty. The need to rebuild and resurrect the civil society 
(families, churches, community groups) of high-crime, drug-plagued 
urban neighborhoods is not an intellectual or research hypothesis that 
requires testing. It's a moral and social imperative that requires 
doing - and doing now. (9)

 It can be assumed -quite logically- by the lay person that the 
"super predator" is actually a young psychopath or psychotic. While 
these terms have become largely interchangeable, thanks in large part 
to Hollywood, there are distinct differences between the psychopath, 
the psychotic, and the Super Predator. 

 British Columbia Psychologist Robert Hare, has done some 
ground breaking research into the study of psychopaths and has found 
that psychopaths tend to underutilize regions of the brain that 
integrate memories and emotions. These findings helped support long 
held theories that the destructive nature of psychopaths were 
neurobiological in nature. But, aside from the neurobiological aspects 
of psychopathic behavior: The psychopath knows right from wrong; they 
are quite often charming, glib and impulsive individuals. They often 
brag about grandiose life ambitions, but often lack the skills or the 
discipline to achieve their goals. Psychopaths are easily bored and 
crave immediate gratification. It has been found that psychopaths, 
quite often, have very high intelligence quotients. When caught in a 
lie, the psychopath will shift blame, or switch topics with no 
apparent embarrassment. They do not form deep or meaningful 
relationships, and often end up hurting people who get close to them. 
While they are intellectually aware of societies rules, they feel no 
guilt when they break them. (8)

 While many of the aspects described above fit the profile of 
the "Super Predator", there are some important differences. The
"super predator" are almost completely without ambition, they are 
often of below average intelligence, and they do not recognize 
-intellectually or otherwise- any rules of society. While psychopaths 
and the "super-predator" both share the inability to feel emotion, the 
psychopath can feign it to achieve a result, the "super predator" 
seems completely incapable of even that. More interestingly, the 
"super predator" is remarkably candid. They will more often than not, 
admit not only to their crimes, but as to the why, and as to the fact 
that they did nothing wrong and would do it again.

 Psychopathy does not always -in fact quite the contrary- 
manifest itself in criminality. In fact, a psychopath could be a 
highly functioning and highly successful individual in society. In 
contrast, the "super predator" lacks the intelligence or the "masking
capabilities" of the psychopath to achieve success outside of the 
criminal world. (9) 

 The "super predator" is not psychotic. Psychotics are largely 
out of touch with reality. They suffer from delusions, hallucinations,
or other disordered states. They are often found not guilty of crimes 
they commit by reason of insanity. (8) 

 Today, especially in the inner cities, children, in the age 
ranges of 5 to 9 yrs of age, are all to often left to their own 
devices. They spend much of their time hanging out on the streets or 
soaking up violent TV shows and violent rap music, they have easy
access to guns and drugs, and can be extremely dangerous. By the year 
2005 they will be teenagers--a group that tends to be, in the view of 
Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, "temporary 
sociopaths.... impulsive and immature.'' 

 There are currently 39 million children under 10 in the U.S., 
more than at any time since the 1950s. "This is the calm before the
crime storm," says Fox. "So long as we fool ourselves in thinking that 
we're winning the war against crime, we may be blind sided by this 
bloodbath of teenage violence that is lurking in the future." Nearly 
all the factors that contribute to youth crime -single-parent 
households, child abuse, deteriorating inner-city schools - are 
getting worse. At the same time, government is becoming less, not 
more, interested in spending money to help break the cycle of poverty 
and crime. (6)

Some Statistics On The Rise Of Juvenile Crime. 

* The number of juvenile murderers tripled between 1984 and 1994.

* Youthful murderers using guns increased four-fold over the same 

* Juvenile gang killings have nearly quadrupled between 1980 and 1992.

* In 1994, eight in ten juvenile murderers used a firearm, up from 
five in ten in 1983.

* The number of juveniles murdered increased 82 percent between 1984 
and 1994. 

* The nationwide juvenile arrest rate for violent crimes increased 50 
percent between 1988 and 1994. 

[ Source: U.S. Dept. Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and 
Delinquency More Statistics ]

* Over the next ten years, the population of 14 to 17 year olds will 
grow 23 percent, and the current generation of juveniles has already 
brought us the worst juvenile crime rates in recorded history.

* Since 1965, the juvenile arrest rate has more than tripled, and over 
the last ten years the homicide rate has more than doubled among 14 to 
17 year olds.

* During the 1980s, the white juvenile crime rate grew twice as fast 
as the black juvenile crime rate, and from 1983 to 1992, the arrest 
rate for murder grew 166 percent among blacks, but also grew 94 
percent among whites. The increasing juvenile murder rate coincides 
with an increase in "stranger murders," suggesting juvenile predators 
are less discriminating in their targets. 

* While in the past most murders occurred between family members and 
friends, the FBI recently reported that 53 percent of homicides are 
committed by strangers.

* "Stranger murders" are now four times as common as killings by 
family members.

* Perpetrators of stranger murders have a better than 80 percent 
chance of not being punished. 

Source: Andrew Peyton Thomas (Assistant Attorney General for Arizona)

 Local police, prosecutors, and inner-city preachers know that 
the kids doing the violent crimes are more impulsively violent and
remorseless than ever. For instance, Philadelphia District Attorney 
Lynne Abraham who sits on the Council on Crime in America, speaks of 
the frightening reality of elementary school kids who pack guns 
instead of lunches. Likewise, Dan Coburn, a former Superior Court 
Justice and Public Defender in New Jersey, recently wrote that "This 
new wrote horde from hell kills, maims, and terrorizes merely to 
become known, or for no reason at all. These teens have no fear of 
dying and no concept of living."

 Even maximum-security prisoners agree. When asked by Diiulio 
what was triggering the explosion of violence among today's young 
street criminals, a group of long- and life-term New Jersey prisoners 
did not voice the conventional explanations such as economic poverty 
or joblessness. Instead, these hardened men cited the absence of 
people - family, adults, teachers, preachers, coaches- who would care 
enough about young males to nurture and discipline them. In the 
vacuum, drug dealers and "gansta rappers" serve as role models. "I was 
a bad-ass street gladiator," one convicted murderer said, "but these 
kids are stone-cold predators." (10)

 Even more shocking than the sheer volume of violent juvenile 
crime is the brutality of the crime committed for trivial motives: a
pair of sneakers, a jacket, a real or imagined insult, a momentary 
cheap thrill. For example: 

* A 59-year-old man out on a morning stroll in Lake Tahoe was fatally 
shot four times by teenagers "looking for someone to scare." The 
police say the four teenagers - just 15 and 16 years old - were 
"thrill shooting." 

* A 12-year-old and two other youths were charged with kidnapping a 
57-year-old man and taking a joy ride in his Toyota. As the man 
pleaded for his life, the juveniles shot him to death. 

* A 14-year-old boy was murdered while trying to reclaim a $2,500 
stereo system he had received from his grandfather. Five juveniles, 
ranging in age from 15 through 17 years, were charged with the crime. 


 In every community, roughly 2 percent of the juvenile offender 
population is responsible for up to 60 percent of the violent juvenile 
crime. Only 25 to 35 juveniles in every 100,000 members of the 
population will engage in criminal activity that matches the Serious 
Habitual Offender pattern. Based on criteria developed by the Reagan 
team at the Department of Justice, this means that 0.03 percent to 
0.04 percent of all juveniles between 14 and 17 years old will be 

 A profile of a Serious Habitual Offender was collected from 
data collected and analyzed by the Reagan Administration team at the 
U.S. Department of Justice in the 1980s presents a graphic portrait of 
the serious habitual offender: The typical SHO is male, 15 years and 
six months old. He has been arrested 11 to 14 times, exclusive of 
status offenses, and five times for felonies. He comes from a 
dysfunctional family; and in 46 percent of cases, at least one of his 
parents also has an arrest history. He has received long-term and 
continuing social services from as many as six different community 
service agencies, including family, youth, mental health, social 
services, school, juvenile, or police authorities, and continues to 
drain these resources for years before he is finally incarcerated as a 
career criminal.

 The typical SHO's family history follows a classic pattern of 
social pathologies: 53 percent of his siblings also have a history of 
arrest; and in 59 percent of these cases, there is no father figure in 
the home. The absence of a father is particularly destructive for 
boys; only 2 percent of SHOs are female. Furthermore, 68 percent of 
these offenders have committed crimes of violence, 15 percent have a 
history of committing sex crimes, and 51 percent have a reported 
missing or runaway record.

 If a broken family characterized by physical or sexual abuse 
is an early indicator of criminal behavior, then virtually all of 
these serious habitual offenders fit this category. These findings are 
consistent with the Heritage Foundation's widely reported analysis of 
the true root causes of violent crime, particularly the crimogenic 
conditions associated with broken or dysfunctional families. (10) 

* SHOs do not consider the crimes they have committed to be all that 

* Forty-five percent are gang members, 64 percent associate with other 
serious habitual offenders, and 75 percent abuse drugs. 

 Recent studies show that illegal drug use among the young is 
on the rise and a significant majority of all present day SHOs
-"Super Predators"- use or sell illegal drugs and often become 
addicted themselves. Illegal drug use and alcohol abuse tend to be 
regular features of their criminal conduct. Drugs, in particular, are 
part of the criminal scene of these juvenile offenders, and the use 
and sale of drugs contributes significantly to a SHO's other criminal 
activity. The need to purchase illegal drugs, combined with the warped 
hedonism of the addict, shapes and drives much of the criminal 
activity of this class of criminals. 


 Juvenile crime and violence is on the rise. Many 
criminologists are calling it an epidemic, a ticking time bomb, the 
calm before the storm and a long descent into night, you choose the 
cliche'. The reasons for this rise in teen crime seems to have its 
roots not so much in poverty as it does to poverty of values. Experts 
like John DiIulio and James Q.Wilson believe that the cure lies in a 
renaissance of personal responsibility, and a reassertion of 
responsibility over rights and community over egoism. 

 There is definitely a need for more study on the new breed of 
teen criminal -"the Super Predator"- But we don't need yet another 
library full of jargon-riddled criminology studies to tell us what the 
Roman sages knew: what society does to children, children will do to 

 While most in the education as well as the psychological 
fields blanch Whenever the terms values, church, responsibility, and
family, are bandied about. But the inescapable reality is that since 
the sixties, when these terms were castigated and relegated to "being 
quaint", we have witnessed an incredibly fast and pernicious rise in 
the types of pathologies that have accompanied the decline of the 
family structure. While I am by no means a religious zealot, it seems 
to me that government has been a poor substitute for the family and 
the church in teaching basic core values. Government certainly has a 
role to play financially, but the strictures and the applications of 
any type of largess need to come from Community leaders or clergy 
members who have a real stake in the community.

 While it is tragic that there seem to be a large number of 
"lost youths" mired in a life of crime and violence, the safety of the
community, especially the children in the community, should be the 
primary concern. While I agree with John DiIulio, that we need more 
churches, I also feel that if more jails need to be built to house 
young thugs, build them. If children as young as 7, 8, or 9 yrs of age 
need to be incarcerated like adults, do it. While this may seem harsh, 
I believe that it is the only way to prevent further decay. With 
harsher enforcement of laws towards violent minors enforced, attention 
can be paid to addressing the ills that create the problem; family 

 More attention needs to be paid to the people who actually 
live in the communities affected. We must deal with this problem of
the "super predator" teen thug swiftly and harshly, before it's too 
late to save the children in danger of falling in with or becoming 
victims of crime themselves.


1- Ethnic NewsWatch © SoftLine Information, Inc., Stamford, CT

2- F.R. Duplantier, The Importance Of Fathers 08-16-1995, HERITAGE 

3-Worsham, James-Blakely, Stephen-al, et, Crime and drugs.., Vol. 85, 
Nation's Business, 02-01-1997, pp 24.

4-Julia Duin, Alarm over crime puts focus on nation's `moral crisis'., 
The Washington Times, 11-17-1996, pp 31.

5-Parker, Shafer, Violence with a youthful face.., Vol. 23, Alberta 
Report /Western Report, 06-17-1996, pp 27.

6- Richard Zoglin Reported By Sam Allis/Boston And Ratu Kamlani/NEW 
01-15-1996, pp 52+.

7-NINA J. EASTON, The Crime Doctor Is In; But Not Everyone Likes Prof. 
JohnDiIulio's Message: There Is No Big Fix; Home Edition., Los Angeles 
Times, 05-02-1995, pp E-1.


9- William J. Bennett, John J. DiIulio, Jr., and John P. Walters BODY 


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