CON: Are parents responsible for murders committed by their children?

CON| With the recent shootings and violence that have taken place all over America the recent years, we, as citizens, are forced to ponder: Who is to blame?

Vrinda Chauhan, Asst. A&E Editor

When an outsider sees a child throwing a fit at a local grocery store, for example, they are naturally inclined to say “don’t blame the child, blame the parent.” It seems as if Americans are using this as a universal principle to explain misbehavior of any sort, and victimizing the killers in the process. Although parenting does play a significant role in a child’s life, parents cannot and should not have to take blame for such tragedies.

More often than not, families are just as surprised as the rest of us. A parent’s job is to raise their child the best way they can. Though I am sure there are exceptions, no parent raises their child to grow up to be a murderer. And even if the parents do not follow the “guidelines” of good parenting, no parent, at any point, is able to anticipate that their child might one day become a killer. Murder is an extreme that no parent believes their own child would be able to commit.

Johns Hopkins University sociologist Katherine Newman, who has studied shooters and their families, affirms that parents are often unable to see hidden violence in their child, in stating that the shooters she studied were “very adept at showing one side of their character to adults and another side to their peers.”

Furthermore, parenting is not the only aspect of life that a child is influenced by. One’s relationship with their community environment should also be considered when trying to find a cause for such crimes. Research from USA
Today even suggests that undiagnosed mental health problems—as well as perpetrators’ relationships with peers, teachers and others—can play a much bigger role in these actions than parenting can. When looking at the bigger picture, parenting is not the only aspect that affects person’s life decisions. Besides, one aspect seldom triggers so heinous of a response.

In the end, people perform the actions they perform, regardless of outside influences. Killers are generally not forced to, nor are even generally instigated, to commit such crimes. The actions they take are independent ones, planned and executed by them exclusively. Why should parents be forced to take the fall for them?

When a child turns violent, we naturally, but unjustly turn to parenting to provide an excuse for what went wrong. The generalization that parents are to blame is wrong and has become a scapegoat for many in order to understand young killers’ reasons for committing a crime. It is time to accept that parents are not the real perpetrators.