Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Bad Seed

"Is he just a confused and troubled youth who acted on a fantasy induced by watching and re-watching a movie or is he a yet-to-be-diagnosed sociopath who will act violently again if the opportunity presents itself? Only time will answer that troubling question."

"He has been unable to explain the reasons for his actions to his parents, the youth probation officer, or the psychological experts. The various people who have interacted with, examined, or assessed (him) since the attack have been unable to shed any light on what might have been the genesis or catalyst of his criminal behaviour and whether or not there is a quantifiable measurement of the risk he presents to act that way again in the future."

"It was not a spontaneous ill-informed reaction to a set of circumstances. [Tim] formulated a plan, enhanced by his repetitive watching of a certain movie, to act on his anger towards his family members."
"As a result of that incident [Tim] was referred to and attended the Children Who Witness Violence Program."
"It may be difficult for members of the general public to understand how a person, no matter their age, who came within moments of killing another person, could even be considered to receive punishment that does not include a term of imprisonment."
B.C. provincial court Judge Michael Brecknell

When he handed down his sentencing decision on September 30, British Columbia Justice Brecknell stated that undoubtedly as a result of the age of the offender, though it would not have an interfering effect with rehabilitation, he did not view putting this youth away in social seclusion as punishment for his actions was "necessary or appropriate". This, despite that the judge himself stated openly that the boy could conceivably attempt to murder someone yet again

For all intents and purposes, this was a young boy who was viewed as a "good and happy child", a youth of "gentle demeanour", not involved with drugs and with no history of mental health problems. He has been sentenced to three years' probation for stabbing his six-year-old sister repeatedly in the back, in September of 2013. At the time he was three years older than his sister. Sometimes, he said later, his sister "annoyed" him, a common enough feeling between siblings.

But it wasn't her annoyance factor to him that inspired him to attempt to kill her at a time when he was feeling particularly resentful toward his father for insisting that he perform tasks that he had no wish to do. The theory is that the boy who had repeatedly watched the film Halloween on television, was inspired by it and attempting to replicate what he saw in a scene where a six-year-old kills his sister, stabbing her in the back.

Now, conditions imposed on the real-life boy who attempted to do the same thing include not watching television and not seeing his sister, among other provisions. The little girl had been engaged in the morning ritual of preparing for school when her brother "suddenly and without any provocation" repeatedly thrust a large kitchen knife into her back slashing her back, arms, hands, legs and face as the child desperately attempted to escape.

Escape she did, rushing out of the house, running toward a school bus which led to immediate medical attention. Tim (not his real name), later informed police, even as he presented entirely splattered with his sister's blood, that he had taken inspiration from the often-viewed film. And he pleaded guilty to attempted murder. In the months prior to his attack on his sister he asserted he had watched the stabbing scenes "over and over again".

The two children lived with their father after the separation of their parents when Tim was seven years of age. Up until the separation he had been witness to verbal and physical abuse taking place between his parents. On one occasion the situation had become so threatening and violent that police were called and the Ministry of Children & Family Development became involved with the family who live in Prince George, British Columbia.

The young boy who was a  talented drummer, a dedicated soccer player, a "loving and considerate person" who had previously looked after his younger sister, had entertained random thoughts about killing his father. But it was his sister upon whom his attention turned that fateful morning. He claims to have no memory of the attack and was immediately afterward solicitous of his sister's condition and her future welfare. And he misses her.

None of the battery of psychiatrists and mental health professionals who examined the boy could say whether he represents a future risk during a possible psychotic outbreak. All of them were unable to pinpoint a "genesis or catalyst of [Tim's] criminal behaviour". And nor was the court able to provide for sentencing arrangements to ensure the "future safety" of the boy's sister and his father.

Now of high school age, the boy was placed on an Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision Order, to last three years, accompanied by nearly 30 conditions. The cost for his rehabilitation will come from federal funds permitting him to access up to $100,000 to pay for the programs geared to steering the boy toward a normal and trouble-free future. Assuming that to be possible.

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