Has anyone else noticed that more and more acts of horrific violence are being committed by especially young men? Boston Marathon bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is 19 years old. Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooter Adam Lanza was 20 years old. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, better known as the "Columbine killers," were 18. Lee Boyd Malvo, accomplice to the Beltway Sniper, was 17 when he helped to murder 10 people. At 24, Aurora Theater suspect James Eagan Holmes was slightly older at the time of his shooting, but still under 25 years of age -- the point at which the human brain is fully developed (a fact scientists only recently discovered).
Of course we can't blame crimes of this magnitude solely on the teenage brain, but the connection is too obvious to be ignored. What are we missing here? Not just as a society, but as parents?
According to Dr. Igor Galynker, director of the Family Center for Bipolar in the psychiatry department at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, it's a combination of factors that can lead to disaster. Attachment issues and insecurity make the immature brain especially vulnerable to influence, which is why, Galynker explains, "Very often, these are pairs of perpetrators, one dominant figure who has psychopathic tendencies and the other a dependent figure."
Dzhokhar and his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan certainly seem to fit this profile. Tamerlan is being painted as a strong-willed, influential religious extremist; Dzhokhar a laid-back college student with a reputation for smoking pot and hanging out. Even the suspects' mother says Tamerlan had a huge influence on Dzhokhar:
"They loved each other. What Tamerlan was said was law for Dzhokhar. That's how I raised them. What the elder brother says, the younger brother has to do. That is according to Islam."
Again, obviously we can't excuse these criminals because of their age and the company they chose to keep, but maybe going forward, we can start to pay a little bit more attention to troubled teenage boys. Again, not that they're ALL going to turn violent. But it can't hurt.
Do you think there's a connection between Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's age and his crime?
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