José Rabadán, was 16 years old and killed his parents and his psychically handicapped sister with a katana, because he thought that this way he could make his life peaceful. Raquel and Iria, aged 17 and 16, killed a classmate because they wanted to find out what it felt like to kill and make themselves known.
Javier Rosado, 21, along with a 17-year-old friend, killed a randomly selected passerby. “El Nano”, 13 years old, killed a friend of 10 with a stone because the latter had insulted him. Antonio Molina, 14, threw his 6-year-old half-sister down a water distribution pipe where she suffocated to death because he was jealous of her. Enrique Cornejo and Antonio Aguilar, both 16, raped and stabbed a boy of 11.
Child Killers: Facts and Explanation from Psychology
Although each case is unique and each author had different reasons for carrying them out, they all have common elements:
the crimes were committed by minors and took place in Spain .
Of course, those mentioned are not the only cases of murders carried out by minors that have occurred in the country, there are more, although these have gone down in history because of the violence exercised and the motivations of the perpetrators.
Why would a minor commit a crime of this magnitude?
It is frightening to think that from such an early age, minors can commit acts of such violence, such as the one shown in the cases above, and the question we ask ourselves is: How can a minor experience such acts of violence?
You may be interested in: “Psychopathic children: 5 cases of child murderers”
Scientific evidence: from personality to emotional conflicts
Experts who study these violent phenomena allege various causes. Echeburúa relates two possible hypotheses in this regard, one of which defends extreme impulsivity caused by brain damage that affects the mechanisms that regulate behavior, and the other refers to a vulnerability of a biological or psychological nature.
For his part, the professor at the University of Barcelona Antonio Andrés Pueyo alludes to personality and opportunity factors . This author defends that in certain emotional situations a series of violent acts are unleashed that can end in a murder without the prior desire to kill. Other theories affirm that the predictors that explain violence in general are also explanatory for cases that lead to murder or homicide.
Some of these factors would be: perinatal factors, very rigid or permissive educational and upbringing styles, not having developed a good attachment in early childhood, low self-control, low academic performance, living in conflict areas, having antisocial attitudes, having been victims of mistreatment or sexual abuse in childhood, alcohol and drug use and psychological problems or disorders, such as: antisocial personality disorder or psychopathy.
Background psychological disorders
In the latter, psychological problems are supported by other theoretical currents that claim that
psychological disorders are the factors that make the difference between those who kill and those who do not despite being exposed to the same risk factors (Farrington, 2012).
Other factors that have also been observed are children’s temperament, moral development, self-esteem, and lack of empathy, although it should not be forgotten that a proper and correct education can minimize the harmful effects that the environment and genetic predisposition may have on the child and thus reduce the predisposition to commit violent acts.
Fact: 54% of homicidal children suffer from a personality disorder
A study carried out in Spain with children and adolescents convicted of homicide, gives very revealing data regarding this issue:
54% of those who had committed a homicide suffered from a personality or antisocial behaviour disorder , 4% had committed the murder under the effects of a psychotic break and the remaining 42% were normal boys and girls living in apparently normal families.
The conclusion to this phenomenon, as can be seen, is not clear and the literature we find on the subject is varied and alludes to several factors that converge and trigger an act of extreme violence, such as homicide. Therefore, we cannot speak in isolation of opportunity for crime, psychological, genetic or environmental factors, but rather of the confluence of them. And always keep in mind, as Heide concluded
child killers tend to have a previous history of crime or antisocial behavior .
- Farrington, D., Loeber, R. and Berg, M. (2012). Young men who kill: A prospective Longitudinal Examination from Childhood. SAGE publications.
- Pérez Oliva, M. (2008). Why can you kill a child? The weekly country.
- Minors and murderers. List of crimes recorded in the last 18 years. (2010). The World. Retrieved from: http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2010/04/04/espana/1270373512.html
- Young killers, the most shocking cases in Spain (2013). Teinteresa.es. Retrieved from: http://www.teinteresa.es/espana/Jovenes-asesinos-casos-estremecedores-Espana_0_958105162.html