OK “Group Kill” May Fit “Shared Misunderstanding” Pattern: Fox


Criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University says the killing of an Australian college student by three Oklahoma teens “would hardly be the first time that a group of youngsters has committed awful acts of violence purely for entertainment.” Fox writes in USA Today that “the motivation typically goes deeper than a temporary thrill at the expense of some ill-fated target.”

An analysis of FBI data for 2006-11 shows that 35 percent of homicides implicating a juvenile offender included multiple perpetrators, more than twice as high as the percentage for adults. Fox says that in “group kill” scenarios, “the inspiration for violence is more about concern for peer approval than a lack of concern for a defenseless prey. The victim is secondary to the relationships among the assailants.” What Fox calls “pointless crimes such as the [Oklahoma] slaying often fit a pattern that criminologists characterize as ‘shared misunderstanding.’ In this dynamic, each group member wrongfully believes that everyone else genuinely wants to follow through with some vicious act.”

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