A 6 year old boy brought a gun to school and shot and killed a fellow classmate. The police conducted a search of the boy’s home and found another stolen gun (12 gauge shot gun) and illegal drugs in the possession of the boy’s 19 year old brother, who was charged with involuntary man slaughter. The most likely circumstances that could have led this boy to commit such a violent crime would be guided participation, emotional regulation, and reactive aggression. Michigan state law says that any children under the age of seven are not considered criminally responsible for their actions. The charges for this crime were filed against the 19 year old brother who was found in possession of stolen guns and illegal drugs.
As children develop over time their greatest influences are their parents and their peers. Kathleen Berger (2011), author of The Developing Person Through the Life Span, defines guided participation as, “the process by which people learn from others who guide their experiences and explorations” (p.241). Parents will set the standard for what children will view as the way life should be lived. Sadly, in this particular circumstance the 6 year old boy’s two male role models both reside in jail for gun-related charges.
This child may have been exposed to multiple different kinds of behavior involving gun violence. Behavior such as this would send a message to the child, this is the way you get what you want in life. However if this child were raised in a Christian home, this shooting may have been prevented. In Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV) it says “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it”.
Another circumstance that may have led to this violent crime happening is poorly developed emotional regulation. Emotional regulation is defined by Berger (2011) as, “the ability to control when and how emotions are expressed” (p.265). In child development emotional regulation is developed from the ages of 2 to 6. If this 6 year old boy suffers from poorly developed emotional regulation, this could have led to his shooting of a classmate. If a child is never made to understand that there are consequences to their actions, then they will never be able to determine how far is too far.
As children our sin nature is for us to get upset and angry when we don’t get what we want, or when things don’t go our way. Resulting in a fit or temper tantrum being thrown that may involve violent behavior. Reaction aggression is defined by Berger (2011) as, “impulse retaliation for another person’s intentional or accidental action, verbal or physical” (p.279). The goal behind this behavior is to get their way or get what they want. In the process who or what they may hurt in the process is of no concern to them. This type of behavior is our sin nature that we are born with, if not corrected further violent behavior patterns such as the shooting of a classmate may occur.
In closing, the 6 year old boy who earlier that day shot a classmate could have been affected by guided participation, emotional regulation, and reactive aggression. Guided participation may have played the role of this 6 year old boy observing conflicts being resolved via gun violence by the role models in his home. If such behavior was observed this 6 year old boy may not have developed emotional regulation, if he were to develop emotional regulation it may have prevented this crime from ever happening. Reaction aggression may have also played a key role leading up to this crime.
If gun violence was used in the home, it is only natural for this 6 year old boy to also use gun violence. Michigan state law believes children under the age of seven are presumed to lack responsibility are not considered criminally responsible for their actions. Since the police found the 19 year old brother in possession of stolen weapons he was charged with involuntary manslaughter for the shooting. The police viewed the 6 year old boy as a product of his surroundings and in no way could he fully understand the extent of his actions earlier that day.
Berger, K. (2011). The Developing Person Through the Life Span (8th ed., p. 241,265,279). New York: Worth.
Courtney from Study Moose
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