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Updated on August 19, 2009

What makes a kid want to go off the deep-end and kill another person? We are seeing this more and more as we turn on the tv or open our papers. Here are some of the characteristics and warning signs to look out for:


  • Though temperament can't alone indicate a problem, those kids who are easily angered,aggressive, withdrawn, insensitive to others,and impulsive


  • Under the guidance of loved ones, parents, and caretakers, children immolate those around them.

  • If there is a presence of violence in the home, that dictates if the kid is likely to be violent elsewhere.

  • The role models for the kids are uncommunicative and unstable, so the kids turn out t be the same way.

  • The child becomes a thrill seeker to replace the need for danger and excitement as he/she gets older


  • Children who are abused and witness physical drama will likely reciprocate that violence onto others.
  • If they had been sexually abuses, they will likely act out sexually or know inappropriate and non-age-appropriate subject matter.
  • Trauma erodes their sense of safety.

There are three levels of behavior which should arouse concern. These are Early Warning Signs, General Warning Signs and those associated with Immediate Risk and Danger.


While rare in the general population, a history that combines fire starting, cruelty to animals and bed wetting has been linked with destructive, dangerous and violent behavior. Bed wetting alone is not significant. While there may not be a risk of violence when these three risk factors are present, the risk of future destructive behavior, violence or ongoing psychological and behavioral problems is very high.



Socially isolated, outcast or withdrawn. Feelings and behavior are easily influenced by peers. Victimized or treated badly by peers. Alcohol or other drug use. Dwelling on experiences of rejection, on injustices or unrealistic fears. Reacting to disappointments, criticisms or teasing with extreme and intense anger, blame or a desire for revenge. Increasing anger, aggression and destructive behavior. Associates with children known to be involved with morbid, destructive or violent behavior or fantasy. Preoccupation or interest in destructive or violent behavior. Has been cruel or violent towards pets or other animals. Fascination, interest or an obsession with weapons or potential weapons. Depicts violent or destructive behaviors in artistic or other creative expressions.



  • Plans for destructive behavior, possibly suicidal.

  • Assaulted another child or hurt him/herself or was hurt by someone else.

  • There may be an unidentified source or target of the violence.

  • Brought a weapon to school or innapropriate place.

  • Has access to lethal weapon.

  • Destructive,aggressive, or threatening gestures.

Children Who Kill

Common Last Thoughts About Violent and Homicidal Children

"He was such a nice guy, would do anything for you."
"He was very quiet, didn't give me any trouble"
"He was well respected around these parts"


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    • VendettaVixen profile image

      VendettaVixen 6 years ago from Ireland

      Very good hub. I often think about kids who resort to extreme violence. I begin to wonder "what if I knew that kid? Could I have helped him/her? Could I have stopped this from happening altogether?"

      I have to say though, this bit disturbed me:

      "Dwelling on experiences of rejection, on injustices or unrealistic fears. Reacting to disappointments, criticisms or teasing with extreme and intense anger, blame or a desire for revenge." That's me. That sentence is litterally me. I have various illnesses and it's pretty apparent to look at me that I'm "different", and I tend to think the world's out to get me, that noone likes me, etc, etc.

      I'd never dream of hurting another person on purpose, and I absolutly love animals, but still, I think I need to relax a little.

    • AsherKade profile image

      AsherKade 8 years ago from Texas

      very good point earnest...I love the way you think....

    • earnestshub profile image

      earnestshub 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Parenting in poverty is another major factor. It must be so much more difficult when there is little professional help available to a community.

    • AsherKade profile image

      AsherKade 8 years ago from Texas

      thank you AEvans! I have an autistic child, and know how frustrating it is to get a child many people are in denial about problems like helps if the child has at least one advocate that will fight tooth and nail for him/her.

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 8 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Interesting I have noticed these issues for years with my nephew and have discussed the environment etc.with my sister,she absolutely will not listen and again you have pointed it out. I need for her to read this as she is in complete denial about the entire situation. I love my nephew who is 17 but he does need serious help and nobody is listening. :(

    • AsherKade profile image

      AsherKade 8 years ago from Texas

      I agree Peggy. However, kids don't want to risk losing a friend or have retribution. Kids don't want to accidently get a kid in trouble if they are wrong aout their intuition. KIds also don't know what's right or wrong if they haven't been raised right. This is where parents needs to step up to the plat, teach kids right from wrong, speak up when someting is off about heir classmate, and at the very least, talk to their parents about their day...

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      You named some good alerts...

      Cruelty to animals...starting fires, etc. This often escalates.

      If kids felt more comfortable reporting other kids in school to adults, sometimes these acts could be stopped ahead of violence being done.

      Good hub.

    • AsherKade profile image

      AsherKade 8 years ago from Texas

      I've wondered the same thing....back in my day, they didn't even know about depression and autism...though murderous children and those disorders aren't always linked....

    • profile image

      Useful Knowledge 8 years ago

      Good Hub. It really makes you think about all of the school shootings. Did these children exhibit any of the warning signs and could they have been stopped?