Anti-Social Behavior of Young Children:
Turns USA Small Towns into Disturbia
A recent Dear Abby contained a plea from “Afraid in Wisconsin” who expressed concerns about the behavior of a new neighbor’s 11-yr-old son. This letter highlighted the plight of many who live in a suburbia across America: antisocial kids who terrorize their neighborhoods, and the inability to deal with them.
“Afraid in Wisconsin” wrote how new neighbors had built a home on the lot next door and the “antisocial behavior” of their 11-yr-old son. How the boy had tried to coax “Afraid’s” dog into his yard, played roughly with their three small children, and used vulgar language with their 8-yr-old daughter. “Afraid” noted that other neighbors had seen the boy abuse his dog and “other animals”. When “Afraid” had approached the boy’s mother, “Afraid” was told that her son “wouldn’t behave that way”.
Here is Dear Abby’s answer to “Afraid in Wisconsin”:
“DEAR AFRAID: You have described a child who is emotionally disturbed and parents who are in denial. Because the neighbors have seen him abuse animals, a report should be made to the police and the department of animal welfare in your community. This boy has no empathy for others and needs professional help. Until he gets it, you are wise to be concerned about your children. Keep a watchful eye.”
Parents such as “Afraid in Wisconsin” face the same plight that countless other families endure in neighborhoods across America: the effects of an antisocial kid’s behavior on the neighborhood where he resides.
According to Donald Black, M.D., Antisocial Personality, or ASP, is a disorder related to a “guiltless pattern of social irresponsibility” which begins in early childhood or adolescence. Antisocial behaviors range from “relatively minor acts, such as lying or cheating, to heinous acts, including torture, rape and murder”. Black makes the observation that ASP is rarely acknowledged or recognized:
“As psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley once noted, the antisocial person is â€œthe forgotten man of psychiatry who probably causes more unhappiness and more perplexity to the public than all mentally disordered patients combined.â€ ”
This also applies to suburbia and the antisocial kids currently terrorizing neighbors and neighborhoods.
Clark wrote that the “causes” of ASP are still unknown. Evidence of ASP, a mental health issue, point to inherited traits, as well as a “hereditary basis”, and environmental factors.
Theories as to the cause of ASP include abnormalities in development of the nervous system whose symptoms may include persistent bed wetting and hyperactivity. Another theory is mothers who smoked during pregnancy resulting in lowered oxygen levels to the fetus.
Abnormal brain function and neurotransmitter serotonin have been linked to impulsive and aggressive behavior.
“Social and home environment” may also be key factors relating to ASP: parents of antisocial kids “show a high level of antisocial behavior”. Homes of ASP kids may include alcoholism, divorce, criminal activity, or an absence of a parent. Parenting may be “erratic or inappropriate discipline and inadequate supervision”. Antisocial parents “lack motivation” in supervising their children. Children raised in this atmosphere can become “self-absorbed” and “indifferent to others” as well as have “little regard for rules”. Lacking proper roles models, ASP kids solve disputes using aggression. ASP kids also fail to develop empathy.
There are many parents who raised their ASP child in a caring and loving environment. These parents face a bewildering and daunting task of getting treatment for a child who has a behavior problem whose cause is still unknown. These parents do not negate the concerns of their neighbors. It’s when neighbors, who are dealing with an ASP kid terrorizing the neighborhood, find the parent, or parents, are in denial or simply “doesn’t care” what their ASP kid is up to when frustration sets in.
The mother of the boy whom “Afraid” wrote Dear Abby about, claimed her son wouldn’t “behave that way”. The mother inferred that “Afraid”, who contacted her about her son’s behavior, was making up “stories” about her son. The mother, who in essence had called “Afraid” a liar, was in denial about her son’s behavior.
“Afraid” encountered what many other neighbors across America have discovered to their dismay: some parents are unwilling to deal with their antisocial kids. This left “Afraid” with the problem of having to deal with a “creepy” kid in the neighborhood who may or may not harm “Afraid’s” children. The dynamics of “Afraid’s” neighborhood had changed from what was once a safe and happy haven to raise one’s kids, to having to “watch” a neighbor’s child in order to protect one’s own children or pets.
Cases such as the one above are becoming more commonplace–or at least are more publicized.
What other recent cases have troubled quiet neighborhoods?
Source: Terror in Surburia: Campaigns Waged Against Neighborhoods By Antisocial Kids