Experts: Parents of Accused Colorado Killer Deserve Our Sympathy, Too


Experts who study killing sprees says we should have sympathy for the parents of James Holmes, the suspect in last week’s murders at an Aurora, Colo., theater, says USA Today. “We’re a nation of finger-pointers,” said criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University. “We blame them for having raised a monster.” But often, he and others said, families are just as surprised as the rest of us — and just as traumatized.

When young people turn violent, we naturally turn to parenting to explain what went wrong, even though research suggests that hidden, often undiagnosed mental health problems — as well as perpetrators’ relationships with peers, teachers and others — can play a much bigger role. Hours after the shootings, TV satellite trucks began arriving at the red-roofed, mission-style San Diego home where Holmes grew up — and where his mother, Arlene; father, Robert; and sister, Chris, still live. Johns Hopkins University sociologist Katherine Newman said parents are usually “quite blind to what is happening — or they are not being shown the side of their child that turns out to be a killer.”

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