The Psychology of Terrorism: Programs and Practices in Response and Prevention - Vol. 4

By Chris E. Stout | Go to book overview

5

Terror and Violence Perpetrated by Children

Trevor Stokes

How does the mind of a child develop in a way that leads to terror and violence?

Why would a child shoot another child?

Why would a child fly a plane into a tall building?

There is usually a complex weave of factors that lead to such aggression toward oneself and toward others. Generally speaking, the cause lies in a combination of susceptibility to aberrant influences, development of maladaptive repertoires of behavior, and control by currently functional motivational factors (Bijou & Baer, 1978; Stokes & Baer, 1977; Stokes, Mowery, Dean, & Hoffman, 1997). Aggression by children often has a longer history than is initially apparent to a casual observer. Childhood aggression toward oneself and toward others is seen in most children—both active children and calm children. It is the development and moderation of the dysfunctional circumstances and the aberrant repertoires of behavior across childhood that we need to consider, especially now in a world in which terror and violence are a serious threat.

Terror, violence, and aggression perpetrated by children challenge communities to provide better programs of monitoring and interception of dysfunctional childhood histories and repertoires. It is imperative that there be a fair, reasonable, and effective protection against the escalation of aggression in its developmental trajectory across the lifespan.

Some models of intervention have concentrated on the profiling of aberrant histories and antisocial behavior of children and youth considered at risk for extreme actions of violence. These models identify children likely to continue in their upward trajectory of aggression and violence. They also over-identify the number of children

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