sight of a mother weeping over her dead criminal son or one being led away
in the police jail van is now a common one in our newspapers and
televisions. He may have raped, killed, robbed, physically and verbally
abused a woman, or a child. But his mother will weep and wail and say
“He was such a good boy. He didn’t do anything wrong. They (the
victims) are wrong. The police brutalised him. He doesn’t deserve a
prison sentence. He didn’t deserve to die.”
mother’s grief is almost always moving. But not this time. We just shake
our heads, glad that the criminal is being put away or dead and wonder at
such misplaced love.
irony is that the criminal stares back impassively at his mother as
unmoved by her tears as he is by the life shattering trauma of his victims
and their families. We watch stunned as such imperturbability. Is the man
an animal, we ask one another. Can he do so much damage and not look
bothered by it? He must be bothered, he must have a conscience we think to
console ourselves. And then we look at his dull unseeing eyes. He is not.
psychologist Elliot Barker tells us to look no further for explanations
than the mother who even now is protesting her criminal child’s
exists that criminals are created early in childhood; disruptions caused
by extreme and multiple separations from caregivers in the first three to
five years of life impair later capacities for trust, empathy, and
affection. In the first few years of a child’s life, the relationship
with the mother usually seems to be the most significant.
psychopaths have had rather twisted relationships with their mothers: some
being too distant, never offering love or any affection; others are too
close to them."
Brownlow, another psychologist gives this profile of a criminal’s
lot of the evidence seems to point the cause of criminal behaviour towards
a bad upbringing. Criminals tend to be especially high on impulsivity,
hyperactivity, sensation seeking, and risk taking.
prone toward criminality are said to bore quickly and easily, and need to
seek out new and more intense stimulations than that provided by normal
daily experiences. Their stimulus-seeking behaviours are likely to include
deviant and criminal acts, particularly if they lack legitimate
opportunities to satiate their stimulus needs.
criminals have a history of poor performance at instrumental tasks. This
typically results in a very limited education, and, as an adult, a poor
work history and a limited income. Not unexpectedly, such persons have a
low investment in and are antagonistic to conventional society.
such persons the potential loss of the rewards associated with normal
society do not pose a substantial cost.”
simply criminals do what they do, what they want, without remorse or
regard to others.
present I’d like to give all mothers including myself today comes in the
form of questions starting with this one: Are you a good mother?
good I mean: do you and I teach our sons to empathise with those who are
in pain or suffering or need help, or do we deny them this essential
humanity by wanting to spare them any trouble?
you tell your son to protect the weak, to stand up for the vulnerable, or
does your “love” take the form of giving in to all his demands be it a
phone, computer, car, money?
you risk being unpopular with your son by putting him straight when he is
rude, demanding, unkind, selfish, abusive, or do you let it pass because
you love him so much? Are you bullying him, or allowing it, knowing that
one day the victim will turn perpetrator? Are you striking the balance
between closeness and space?
mother’s overindulgence can stifle a son to death. Give yourself a
present this Mother’s Day. Give yourself a son knows the difference
between standing up for himself and being a bully, a son who will never
one day look out of a prison van with vacant eyes.