Is a life of crime the result of poor parenting?
By Margaret Matthews, Senior Columnist
As I watched a news telecast announce that Cody Legebokoff is the convicted serial killer who murdered three women and a teenager before he was 20—and has been sentenced to lifetime imprisonment—I pondered the thought of how and when does a life of crime begin?
Young children are keen observers, who copy mannerisms and language from their parents at home. This brings up the question of good parenting and the tremendous responsibility that society places on parents to teach children right from wrong; to guide them into right paths of living; to lead by example, to check out their friends and the company they keep; to be aware of what they read or watch on the Internet, television, and in movies; to monitor their whereabouts; to encourage them to develop and reach their full potential; and to live productive and worthwhile lives. Involving children in a part-time job, sports, or volunteer work can negate such unwanted criminal behaviour.
Oftentimes the criminal activity starts with petty thievery, breaking and entering, and motor vehicle driving offences, which, if not corrected at the onset, will undoubtedly lead to more serious crimes.
Several years ago in Britain, two 10-year-olds kidnapped and killed a two-year-old who had strayed from his mother’s side at a mall in Liverpool. What made the 10-year-olds commit such a grievous crime? Where and how did such thoughts enter such young minds? Furthermore, where were their parents?
Many attempted to explain the 1993 crime by linking the boys’ actions to their having watched violent and scary movies, like Child’s Play 3; perhaps watching violent criminal behaviour had prompted the boys to emulate what they saw. What enters the mind plays a vital part in one’s thinking, which leads to their behaviour and conduct, especially when they’re of a young and impressionable stage in life. Because the two were so young, they could neither be tried in an adult court, nor in a juvenile court.
I’m reminded of the three Bacon brothers, the notorious gangsters who lived with their parents in Abbotsford when they were younger. The brothers grew up and got involved with gangs, drugs, possession of weapons, and murders. One shooting spree in Surrey left six people dead, including two innocent bystanders. They were a terror to everyone who lived near them, and people stayed away from them because of their violence and crime. One brother was shot and killed by rival gang members, and the other two are incarcerated.
While some parents may subscribe to a religious faith, it’s not religion alone that makes people live with honesty and integrity; the upbringing, nurturing, and discipline that they receive from their parents at home, as well as their educators and counsellors is what makes it so. The nurturing received at home should be a balance between love and discipline in order to produce citizens who can contribute positively towards society, making it a better place to live.