I have been interested in true crime cases for over half of my life now. I began binging true crime television and reading every book I could find in middle school. It was so interesting to me how anyone could exhibit such criminal behavior. But once I found out the truth about my own uncle’s life and his struggles, my interest in these behaviors became a little more personal. My uncle Timmy unfortunately passed away in 2005, but at the time I was only eleven and too young to be given any details. Plus, I had never actually gotten to know him. I hadn’t met him very many times, and even today, I actually have no memories of him whatsoever. He had apparently moved to Florida and was in and out of jail. Mostly for reports of domestic violence called in by his wife at the time. My family isn’t really aware of what their relationship was like, as none of them were firsthand witnesses to these interactions. However, what they’ve gathered from information known is that both parties in the marriage were volatile and abusive.
The last time Timmy was arrested, he allegedly suffered a seizure in jail and according to the articles online, was brain dead by the time he arrived at the hospital (Miller, 2005). Long story short: the police department claimed he suffered from a pre-existing seizure disorder (that everyone in our family was unaware of), but upon her arrival at the hospital, my grandma could clearly see that he had been beaten. Now, the circumstances around his death were definitely odd, however that’s not why we’re here.
My uncle exhibited behavioral issues nearly his entire life. My grandma had three other children, but Timmy was always a bit different. He displayed many behaviors we hear about in serial killer documentaries— wetting the bed later than most children, setting fires, animal cruelty, etc. Things that many mothers of the time responded to with “boys will be boys!” However, as he got a little older, he turned to illegal activities, such as theft and drugs. He’d often rummage through the family home, steal any cash he found, and sometimes even pawned his siblings’ and mother’s belongings for cash. How he ended up in Florida with a wife our family didn’t know about, I am not sure. But I do know that Timmy displayed several warning signs during his childhood of exhibiting problematic behavior once reaching adulthood.
A collaboration among psychology professionals and educators could be effective in the effort to prevent and intervene in instances of juvenile criminal behavior. According to Chaiken and Huizinga (n.d.), the earlier this prevention effort is introduced to children, the more effective it is at reducing future criminal behavior.
Those within the psychology field could further research these behaviors, possibly finding more warning signs or even certain triggers that could result in criminal or violent behavior. Also, psychology can help us develop therapeutic tools for both children & parents. Teaching them about processing traumas, dealing with difficult emotions, and aid in improving their overall mental health.
With the research that’s already been done, along with future research, educators could develop an early childhood education curriculum aimed at preventing problematic behavior. Also, an educational program for parents, so that they can learn how to identify early warning signs and help their child develop healthy habits and behaviors could be beneficial.
I really believe we could make a difference in these patterns of behavior if we focused more on educating the general public on these topics. More people throughout the world could have a chance to live without these struggles and less families would lose loved ones, if we are able to help them before they reach an age where they feel they no longer have a reason to live any differently.
Chaiken, M., Huizinga, D. (n.d.). Early Prevention of and Intervention for Delinquency and Related Problem Behavior. www.ojp.gov/pdffiles/158837.pdf
Miller, C., (2005, October 2). Pinellas jail inmate is 2nd to die in a month. https://www.tampabay.com/archive/1997/09/19/pinellas-jail-inmate-is-2nd-to-die-in-a-month/
This assignment required me to use in depth critical thinking while researching connections between early childhood behavior and actions exhibited later in life. Integrative thinking was necessary as well, especially during the process of coming up with possible solutions for early identification of these problematic behaviors.