"Ethically and morally, kids are works in progress. Throw in psychopathy and you've got a soul that will never be complete." In this powerful, disturbing book, bestselling author and noted child psychologist Jonathan Kellerman shines a penetrating light on antisocial youth kids who kill without remorse asserting that "psychopathic tendencies begin very early in life, as young as three, and they endure." Criticizing our quick impulse to blame violent movies or a "morally bankrupt" society, Kellerman convinces us that it is the kids themselves who need to be examined. Carefully. How do children become cold-blooded killers? Kellerman warns that today's aggressive bully is tomorrow's Mafia don, cult leader, or genocidal dictator. Violently psychopathic youths possess an overriding need for power, control, and stimulation, and all display a complete lack of regard for the humanity of others. He examines the origins of psychopathy and the ever-shifting debate between nurture and nature, offering some controversial solutions to dealing with homicidal tendencies in children. As timely as today's headlines, more gripping than fiction, Savage Spawn is a provocative look at the links between society and biology, children and violence. Kellerman's sobering message will remain with you long after the last page is turned.From the Trade Paperback edition.
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December 31, 1998
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Excerpt from Savage Spawn by Jonathan Kellerman
An Idea That Wouldn't Go Away
I know the exact day I decided to write this book.
I love writing novels, am obsessive about writing novels, resent anything that gets in the way of writing novels. Sometimes this single-mindedness conflicts with a cranky, highly opinionated disposition, most evident during the early morning hours, that presses me to vent spleen in print. Fortunately, a combination of deep breathing, strong coffee, and solitude usually prevails, and yet another page is added to the mountain of unwritten letters to the editor and op-ed pieces moldering in some dark corner at the back of my skull.
Thursday, March 26, 1998, was different. My novel in progress was nearly completed, but I wanted nothing to do with it.
The day before, Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden of Jonesboro, Arkansas, had dressed in camouflage garb, stolen a van, filled it with a tent, a sleeping bag, tools, food, and enormous quantities of ammunition and stolen weapons. Thus equipped, they drove to nearby Westside Middle School, where they set off the fire alarm. As the bells clanged, Johnson and Golden ran for cover behind a wooden ridge, waited for students and teachers to emerge, then unleashed a fusillade. Four little girls and a teacher were killed. Ten other children and a teacher were wounded. A motive was suggested: Mitchell Johnson had been jilted by a girl. No rationale was offered for Andrew Golden's behavior. Both Johnson and Golden had warned other children they were going to kill someone. Both had troubled pasts, but no one took them seriously.
One hundred thirty-four spent shells were found at the crime scene, ranging from rat shot to .357 Magnum bullets. In Andrew Golden's pockets were 312 more shells. Johnson and Golden's arsenal consisted of a .30-06 Remington rifle, a Ruger .44 Magnum rifle, a Universal .30 carbine, a Davis Industry .38 special two-shot, an FIE .380 handgun, a Ruger Security Six .357 revolver, a Remington model 742 .30-06 rifle, a Smith & Wesson .38 pistol, a Double Deuce Buddie two-shot derringer, a Charter Arms .38 special pistol, a Star .380 semiautomatic, six knives, and two speed loaders.