When Young People Kill
Insights of a Child Psychiatrist
Lethal stone-throws from motorway bridges, sexual coercion resulting in the victim’s death, a knife attack on a father in the heat of the moment, an abandoned newborn, a brutal triple murder committed out of an experience of boundless loneliness – the spectrum of young people’s violence is enormous; the helplessness of adults and society at large is greater. On the basis of eighteen at times spectacular cases, Helmut Remschmidt explains why young people commit acts of violence and what means can effectively reduce their likelihood.
While for criminologists and experts cases are closed when court decisions are pronounced, the renowned child and youth psychiatrist has followed perpetrators’ fates far beyond their judgments and their imprisonment. It is this long-term outlook that makes his book uniquely revealing. Perpetrators are not only young people who previously showed violent and criminal tendencies; neither are they principally those who suffer from acute psychiatric illness; there are also healthy youths from stable social backgrounds who commit violent crimes, and those who reintegrate into society and the world of work when they leave prison. Remschmidt explains which social and psychological influences contribute to violent actions, why there are gender differences, and how young perpetrators of violence are psychiatrically assessed. His book also includes concrete demands, based on forty years of practice, to help reduce youth violence.
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