Thursday, February 4, 2010


by Katherine Scardino

In our cybernetic world, we are used to new words popping up regularly. However, I admit that I've recently learned a new word that has been around since about 1555. That word is “parricide”, meaning one who murders his parent or parents. I don't suppose young people killing their parents is a revelation to our society, unfortunately. But within the last few years, it seems that it's been occurring with more frequency. I want to know why. What are we, as adults, doing, or not doing, that would produce children who commit these atrocities?

I've read various articles that assume kids who kill parents are abused, isolated, feel that there is no one to help them, or have parents who are themselves substance abusers. I do not agree with this assumption. Here are a few examples:

Colorado 14-year-old John Caudle (photo right) killed his mother and stepfather to avoid chores. He argued with his mother, obtained two .22 caliber pistols from a gun safe, shot her dead, and then shot his stepfather. This boy then spent the rest of his day watching movies and playing on a computer.

Maryland teenager Cory Ryder hired a hitman to kill his parents after they barred him from PlayStation and television. Fortunately, this 16-year-old couldn't finalize the murders; his mother was suspicious and called police, who set up a sting. The boy met with an undercover officer and offered the officer his stepfather’s new truck as payment for killing his parents, telling the officer “two bullets is all it takes.”

Seventeen-year-old Ohio teen Daniel Petric (photo left) killed his parents when they refused to allow him to play the Halo series of video games. The teen's lawyer said Petric was a “typical 16-year-old boy” obsessed with the game trilogy, which he played 18 hours a day when he could. After the murders, he fled the house taking only one thing with him -- the Halo 3 game.

A 17-year-old Adrian, Michigan, boy killed his parents over taking away his cell phone and Xbox 360 as punishment after an argument. After the murders, Marshall Sosby called 911, sobbing, and relayed that his mother had killed his father and then killed herself -- by shooting herself in the back of the head. The report of the incident indicated that this boy showed no remorse.

In Belleville, Indiana, 18-year-old David Ludwig (photo right) killed his girlfriend’s parents because they would not let his 14-year-old girlfriend stay out late enough to suit him.

And, this month in my own backyard here in Houston, high school senior Danish Moazzam Minhas (photo below left) was arrested for conspiring with one of his friends to kill his mother because she was too strict. This friend walked into the home and killed Danish's mother. Just because...

So, what is the problem here? Are young people becoming desensitized to the value of life after watching gory movies, playing video games, or just not being taught that life is all about rules? Somehow, that all sounds so trite and simple. When I was a teen and didn't get what I wanted, pouting was big on my list of responses. These days, conflict or arguments can end in murder. Are our young children not being taught how to deal with situations that simply don't go their way? Admittedly, teenagers deal with the normal turbulence of adolescence. Situations adults don't see as serious feel “life changing” to teenagers. Kids cannot run away from home; they have nowhere to go.

Psychology tells us people who commit parricide are of three types: the severely abused child; the severely mentally ill child, and the third, the darling of the tabloids, the dangerously antisocial child. The cases I have cited here appear to be more along the lines of spoiled brat, which likely falls into the category of “dangerously antisocial child”.

I've always been concerned about children becoming desensitized to morality, ethics, and just the basic “thou shall not kill” rule when they sit in front of the television or play video games all day. I managed to keep my children on a schedule, but today, many parents aren't around. Even if they are around to supervise, they're too busy to pay attention.

When parricide occurs in our society, we want answers so we can fix the problem. Have our children lost their moral compass? Did they ever have one? Growing up is hard. Growing up without parental supervision is harder. Now, supervising your children can get you killed.


Media Mentions said...

Speaking of the cyberspace, this has to be one of the most amusing articles I've seen in a while right here:

I suggest you also check it out


TLTL said...

It is ironic that parents feel the need to ply their children with all these electronics & when they have to use them as negotiations tools these kids get want to kill over them. Hopefully one day they will go out of style and outside games that are played with other kids will be popular again.

Anonymous said...

Its patently ridiculous to blame it on video games. Patricide has been going on for as long as there have been parents. If it wasnt the video game they wanted to play it was something else.

Sometimes its about money, sometimes its about little psycho kids, sometimes its about not getting what they want and sometimes its about the romeo and juliet thing. It has been going on forever.

Anonymous said...

Can you say prescription medication?

Jan W. said...

The California Legislature is trying to pass a law against life sentences without parole for juveniles. This would be retroactive and anyone who committed their crime under the age of 18 would get a new sentencing. A sentence like that would only be applied in a particularly heinous crime. Proponents of the bill say that we don't have good impulse control when we are young, so we shouldn't lock someone up for the rest of their life for "one mistake". Murder is a pretty big "mistake" and one that can never be rectified.

Leah said...

It isn't just video games, its giving children too much and every little thing they want. Parents don't seem to have any real expectations of their children anymore. Tell them yes all the time and then when they hear the word "NO", they get a little irate cause they aren't use to it. Parents need to raise their demands/expectations and lower the amount of giving things unless they are earned.

shthar said...

5 wacky teens equals a problem?

I say that shows that society is almost perfect and parents are doing a great job!