Feral Kids

I was abused when I was a kid in the Soviet Union. I have written about it in the past. Gangs of kids would team up to beat on me, or worse ignore me, leaving me out of playground games, forcing me to watch wistfully from a swing while they built forts and played together.

When Danny was born, I promised myself I would raise him to be a kind individual. I taught him to take care of animals. He was gentle and beautiful. He loved everyone. We would discuss various situations, ostracized kids, making friends, etc. He was pretty lonely when he first started high school, and it broke my heart when he told me on one of his first days, “maybe tomorrow someone will talk to the short, redheaded kid” with such complete innocence and earnestness!

And I was so proud when I read the following on his Twitter feed a couple of years ago!

Kids can be pretty horrible. They’re feral. They travel in packs, because they feel more powerful that way. When you think about it, they don’t have a whole lot control. Adults tell them what to do – many times without giving them reasons they can understand. So they compensate by exerting what control they can over others.

Kids are like sharks. They can smell weakness, and they exploit it, because it gives them the sense of power they lack in their lives. And unless taught otherwise, they’re mean, awful bastards.

Sometimes the awfulness is extreme.

A little boy, who has trouble communicating and hearing, was set in fire by another kid.

Set. On. Fire.

More than 20 percent of Kayden’s body was burned, from his ears to his belly button.

[The victim’s aunt Kelly] Mack said the 10-year-old was playing in a field with two other children when one boy doused him with gasoline and another set him on fire off Wallace Street in Kerrville on Sunday afternoon. The floor of a shed also burned.

When I read this, I felt physically ill.

What kind of parents raise such a monster? A sociopath who sets another child – a child with special needs – a child who is different and weaker – on fire!

A monster who tries to destroy someone different to assert its power and control!

I realize bad seeds do happen. I realize that despite parents’ best efforts, sometimes badly wired beasts appear.

But I would submit that’s rare. Most of the time parents just don’t raise their kids. They toss them into the system and think that schools, teachers, nannies, whatever will take care of them. They abdicate their parental responsibility, because they have lives, or they have careers, or they feel the kids have enough guidance in school.

Look, I know in this economy many times both parents have to work. I was a single parent for several years after my divorce. I worked two jobs. I get it.

But never – NOT ONCE – did I not insist on dinner together, on conversations with my kids, on teachable moments! Not once did I not supplement what they learned in school with different views or alternate information!

Yeah, it was hard. I averaged maybe 4-5 hours of sleep in those days. I worked my second job on the weekends. But I knew that involvement in my kids’ lives meant they would grow to be decent human beings, and there was no way I would abdicate that responsibility! I owed them that much.

What kind of neglect… what kind of complete lack of involvement and discipline… what kind of lack of awareness of the child who is growing up in your own home could cause them to set another human being on fire merely for being different, or perceived weaker? What kind of environment allows this “Lord of the Flies” miscreant to flourish?

A couple of seasons ago, “The Walking Dead” aired an episode in which one of the characters had to kill a young girl who had killed her own sister and was about to murder a baby – not because she was evil, but because she didn’t understand death and what it meant.

Some people went apeshit, claiming that the show had gone too far in its disturbing brutality – that killing a child in what essentially was capital punishment was too much.

But you know what? I wrote then, as I do now, that sometimes neutralizing the threat is necessary – regardless of what kind of package that threat comes in. That’s reality, boys and girls. Sometimes those threats come in cute little packages – PACKAGES THAT SET OTHER CHILDREN ON FIRE!

Sometimes these bad seeds need to be taken out of society, because it’s too risky to allow them to live among us.

Go ahead, and be upset at my advocating the killing of a child. Mommy and daddy should have thought about perhaps ingraining in their spawn a respect for life, a kindness toward others, a sympathy for others’ pain, and an acknowledgment that abusing and harming those who are different and who are weaker than they are is the height of evil. They should have taught that little troglodyte human decency.

But they failed, and now society has to deal with the monster they created.

Neutralize the sociopath. Get rid of it so it can never harm another child again! It wouldn’t be murder. Protecting society against murderous sociopaths such as this is our duty.

21 responses

  1. Fergus from Ayr | Reply

    This is a brillant essay.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The two kids setting the ‘weaker’ one on fire…. Is there a real difference between them and the two girls in Wisconsin who lured a friend into a wooded area and stabbed her multiple times to please some weird TV character named Slenderman? They are both going to spend their lives behind bars, while their victim, who trusted them. has to spend her life in another kind of prison.

    Kids look for the weak ones. If they think you’re weak, they pick on you. I got that from the day I walked in the schoolroom door. When I complained to my mother, her response was that they were just trying to upset me and if I didn’t let them think it worked, they’d quit after a while… but it never stopped. I guess I could find a measure of gratitude in the fact that it made me into a tough, strong-minded, sometimes bitchy girl, but did it have to be like that?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. “When I complained to my mother, her response was that they were just trying to upset me and if I didn’t let them think it worked, they’d quit after a while… but it never stopped. I guess I could find a measure of gratitude in the fact that it made me into a tough, strong-minded, sometimes bitchy girl, but did it have to be like that?”

      I heard the same thing growing up:

      “They’re only mean to you because they like you.”

      “If you ignore it, it will go away.”

      It’s terrible advice, by the way. Just awful. Not that I blame my parents, they were giving me advice they thought was good and helpful, but just shy of school authorities intervening, a solid punch in the face was probably what they needed to stop. That’s just real talk; the only thing I’ve ever seen to get a bully to back down is to show them in some form the cost is not worth it to them. This is one of the reasons I’m on board with the anti-bullying movements schools have started to launch and enforce. I couldn’t be more pleased that my child gets to grow up in a safer environment where they could focus on learning, rather than the one I had to grow up in.

      And to answer your question, yes you did have to evolve into a sometimes bitchy girl; what was your alternative?


  3. My youngest (Knucklehead) is really into “Heroes”. So he hears again and again that part of being a hero is not just fighting Big Bads, but also the Little Bads. And making the less popular a bit more comfortable. Every time he’d tell me about the new kid in class and how he tried to make friends with him, he’d get a rousing “You, Sir, are (said in the voice of Monty Burns) Exxxcellent”.

    And he (and his older sister) have been fed a steady diet of “heroes stick up for people when bullies pick on them. And if they won’t stop, you MAKE them stop, even if it means getting into a fight.

    Bottom line – most kids are fine, but there are always a few asshole bullies. And echo the sentiment in American Sniper – I want my kids to be sheepdogs.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I hear time and time again, the sorry line about how if they let the teachers go on strike, the parents will be inconvenienced because then they will have to find daycare for their kids. It is based in fact, I know, but when I hear this, it always makes me think that our schools today are little more than glorified babysitters, and that any teaching done for our kids, especially about morals and ethics, is going to have to be done by the parents. I know that is how it should be, given the lack of morals and decency of so many of the parents these days, but when our public institutions fail to reinforce the positive lessons that we teach at home, it is small wonder we have a slide down the slippery slope of immorality and abuse by many of our latest generation to be raised in a moral vacuum.


  5. Spot on. What everyone missed on that episode is the terrible price Carol has paid for a decision that had to be made, a decision that should never be made lightly. A friend and I were having a discussion re: serial killers, or chomo’s, and why they are a recent development. Perhaps it was, because in the past…when they were discovered, the situation was ‘taken care of’ by the ‘grown ups’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah. She does such an amazing job showing how Carol’s psyche, and really very soul, deteriorates, what this environment has made of her. It definitely took its toll. If you look at her face throughout that scene, it’s nothing but agony. But you do what must be done – just like she killed Karen and David. You have to protect yours. The threat is obvious. You do what you have to.


  6. Should I put down my punishment suggestion from your FB post? It’s a bit strong…..


    1. Dude. Since when do I censor strong suggestions? Go for it! As long as it’s not racist or spam or an overt threat – and it’s not any of those – it stands.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, here goes…..

        A. The parents are forced to behead their murderous offspring. Any method they prefer, but they have to chose.

        B. They then must cut off each other’s right hands.

        C. Lastly, mandatory vasectomy/hysterectomy for all of them, and all their remaining offspring.


  7. When a child has gone so far to commit an act like that, it is safe to say that they are too far gone to save.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. That was probably the only episode of The Walking Dead I’d ever watched – a friend asked me to watch it, years ago. It was heartbreaking in many different ways; but the main reason why my friend wanted me to watch it was to assess if the portrayal of the sister who killed her sibling and was about to murder her infant sister was ‘unrealistic.’ (Basically, some people were criticizing that it was unrealistic, and that the adults should’ve tried to help her.)

    I agreed with my friend, quite honestly, that the girl who kept trying to ‘care’ for the zombies had snapped very badly. This was especially shown in her need to deny reality and assert that her perception was ‘true’ to the point of violence – I felt was unfortunately realistic – to her warped logic, ‘she can’t walk yet’ as a way to keep her from stabbing the baby made sense.

    And no, the grownups had no choice but to kill the girl. She may have been delusional, she may have been outright insane – but in the setting of the world, they could not take care of her; especially since, as it was, they needed all their energy to survive against the zombies and keep moving – they couldn’t defend themselves against someone who felt she was acting in their best interests by killing them. There Are No Therapists is fully in play. It was a mercy kill, really, and absolutely necessary.

    My son had no real understanding of death when we lost Damien, but he definitely understood when we lost Brandon. His biggest fear is still that I / Daddy might suddenly die. I cannot give him a comforting lie, so I tell him the truth instead – that I will try to teach him everything I can, so he can take care of himself, in case something does happen. He’s a lot more careful than other children his age too; too aware of death and accidents. Bit of a double edged sword, that part.


    1. I am making two comments because I wanted to keep the two topics separate.

      Reading how the kid was set on fire – turned my stomach and made me feel very cold. Stuff like this… just, I dunno. Are children now more sociopathic than before? I’d like to think not, but… *gestures helplessly* I don’t know how to put it into words.


      1. I don’t think kids are MORE sociopathic, necessarily. I think there’s just a lot more coverage of this crap nowadays, especially with the 24 hour news cycle and the Internet.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I suppose. I also think that in a way, the inability of children these days to release aggressions may be a contributing factor.

          Schoolyard fights where the participants in the punch up are friends again afterward come to mind. I don’t mean the aggressive bullying kind of fights though – the bully doesn’t learn; though some of the victims might be able to end their being bullied by fighting back…

          *sigh* Not really an option these days.


        2. True. Thanks to the prevalence of special snowflakes.:\

          Liked by 1 person

    2. Well, to be fair, the character hadn’t really “snapped.” I think part of it is that having lost her parents earlier in the season, she needed to believe badly that somehow they’re still “alive,” but in a different form. Earlier in the season she would feed the zombies dead rats and such in an effort to attract them to the prison in which they’d set up a community. She didn’t understand death. She didn’t get murder, and she didn’t WANT to understand it. Partly, I think, because she refused to believe that her loved ones were dead. Lizzie was a complicated character, but there came a point where she needed to die, because regardless of the reasons for her actions, she was a danger that just couldn’t be fixed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well I didn’t have the background of the character; only what I could infer from the episode. If what you say about the backstory is true then in a way its even worse and more tragic in the need to deny reality. A completely understandable reason too.

        But yeah. Regardless of the reasons for her actions she was too dangerous because she endangered others around her; and I agree she couldn’t be fixed.


        1. That’s why I gave you the background. These characters are SO complex! That’s why I love this show.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. “Kids can be pretty horrible. They’re feral. They travel in packs, because they feel more powerful that way. When you think about it, they don’t have a whole lot control. Adults tell them what to do – many times without giving them reasons they can understand. So they compensate by exerting what control they can over others. ”

    It’s oxymoronic, really. I’ve heard all about how all kids are supposed to be unconditionally innocent, but kids can be some of the meanest individuals out there, from how they treat each other all the way to animal abuse. I think even well intentioned therapists get it mixed up in their oddly slanted quest to portray some kids as terminal victims in spite of their own behavior. Some children are great, some are not so great, but few things get my ire up as much as someone who martyrs a kid who’s acting toxic and destructive, without wanting them to face consequences for their actions. Probably the wisest thing I heard from a professional in a long time was, “They may have been raised poorly. They may be grow up unable to care for themselves. Doesn’t matter—their behavior is not someone else’s responsibility or burden.”

    “But they failed, and now society has to deal with the monster they created.”

    Yes. I guess this is one explanation for why our jails/prisons/mental health facilities are overcapacity.

    “Sometimes these bad seeds need to be taken out of society, because it’s too risky to allow them to live among us.”

    You won’t hear any judgment here. I couldn’t agree more. While it’s unfortunate in its own right a person could end up that way, I’m adamantly against allowing the destruction and toxicity to extend to other innocent people.


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