© Daily MailLittle menace: Mother-of-four Nadine West with her 12-year-old son, Sonny
This case, reported in the UK Daily Mail, reminds me of that of Ken McElroy, recounted by Harry N Maclean in his book, 'In Broad Daylight'. Although the boy concerned is only 12 years old, his future 'career', based on his life up to now, will probably be very similar to McElroy's. He lives on a council housing estate in Hull, UK. 'Asbo' is an acronym for 'Anti-social behaviour order'.

The full report can be found here: 'Satan's child? He's just a little devil,' says mother of a one-boy crime wave.

Here's a few excerpts from the article:
Eight o'clock in the evening, and all is surprisingly calm in the home of Sonny Grainger, the 12-year- old who this week was labelled a 'one-boy wave of terror'.

You might expect that as his newly imposed curfew kicks in - the tag on his ankle ensures he is confined to the house until 7am - a child who prefers to spend evenings riding stolen motorbikes, starting fires and throwing stones at passers-by would be climbing the walls.

Instead, he sits quietly on the sofa, eating toast and watching The Bill until, at 8.45pm, with a kiss for his devoted mum, the 'tyrant' of Hull's Boothferry Estate retires to bed.

In the eyes of his neighbours, who have endured the campaign of violence, vandalism, theft and arson that earned him an Asbo and a reputation for excessive thuggery, he is nothing but a little hooligan whose mother has failed in her basic duty.

But to Nadine West - who admits that, prior to the Asbo [Anti-social behaviour order], she often didn't know his whereabouts from the moment he left the house after school until he had been rounded up by the police - he is a seriously misunderstood little boy.

Though even she has referred to her son - with brutal candour - as 'Satan's child', she insists his problem isn't a lack of discipline, but a psychiatric condition called ODD, or oppositional defiant disorder.

'He was diagnosed last October by experts, not by me,' she says. 'So when I hear people saying all these things about him - that he's got no respect for authority, that he's got anger management issues, that he's out of control - they don't make me think he's a bad kid, they just underline the symptoms of his condition.

'I think: "Yeah, he's got ODD. Now give us the help that we need." '

Among psychiatrists, ODD is a recognised condition, thought to affect between one and 16 per cent of school-age children, and Sonny seems to fit the profile.

Those affected are consistently surly, uncooperative, defiant and hostile towards authority figures.

They throw tantrums, they argue, they do the opposite of whatever is asked of them, they have an explosive temper and an inclination to seek revenge whenever they feel slighted.
Robert Hare writes, in Without Conscience:
Besides being impulsive - doing things on the spur of the moment - psychopaths are highly reactive to perceived insults or slights. Most of us have powerful inhibitory controls over our behaviour; even if we would like to respond aggressively we are usually able to 'keep the lid on'. In psychopaths, these inhibitory controls are weak, and the slightest provocation is sufficient to overcome them. As a result psychopaths are short-tempered or hot-headed and tend to respond to frustration, failure, discipline, and criticism with sudden violence, threats and verbal abuse. They take offence easily and become angry and aggressive over trivialities, and often in a context that appears inappropriate to others, But their outbursts, extreme as they may be, are generally short-lived, and that quickly resume acting as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened.
Back to the article:
Outside psychiatric circles - and, in particular, on the Boothferry Estate - all this is treated with utter scorn. The prevailing view is that any kind of medical excuse for his behaviour is a fig leaf to excuse an appalling record of calculated wrongdoing.

The catalogue of his misdemeanours includes theft and joyriding of cars and motorbikes, violent fist fights - he once hospitalised another boy with head injuries - setting fire to private property, smashing windows of homes on the estate (including his own), and throwing sticks, stones, eggs and bottles at people and passing traffic.
There's an article on the Signs page today: Inoculations: the True Weapons of Mass Destruction. The following paragraph from that article suggests a different possible cause for Sonny's behaviour.


Quote from: Rebecca Carley MD
The brain and spinal cord can also be attacked with auto-antibodies (which this author refers to as vaccine induced encephalitis), leading to a variety of neurological diseases. The most severe of these, leading to death, are sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and most cases of "shaken baby syndrome". If components of the myelin sheath (the insulating covering of nerve fibers which allows proper nerve conduction) or the actual neurofilaments themselves are attacked by auto-antibodies, the resultant condition is determined solely by the location of the damage done. Such neurological conditions include but are not limited to minimal brain dysfunction, ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, mental retardation, criminal behavior.
More from the article:
She says: 'Believe me, I've blamed myself over and over for the way that Sonny is, but when I'm thinking straight I know it can't be my fault. I have three other kids who don't act the way he does. Sonny is a special child.

'Just because he's not in a wheelchair, or wearing a hearing aid - just because there's nothing that visibly sets him apart from normal children - it doesn't mean he's normal.

'People blame the parents without knowing the facts. But God help anyone who has to suffer like I've suffered,' she says - though her son's victims might struggle to muster much sympathy for her.

'Even the police have said they don't blame me. They see mothers who don't care what their kids get up to. They know I'm not one of those. They know I'm at my wits' end.'
There are conflicting messages in Nadine West's words. She is struggling to understand her son, and she comes very close to realising that the cause is genetic. Then, she describes him as a 'special child' and seems to be under the psychopath's spell. It must be incredibly difficult for her to be faced with a child like Sonny. I don't know how I would cope.

Sonny, who attends a special behavioural unit, having been excluded from mainstream education, struggles to find an answer for why he feels compelled to cause trouble everywhere.

'A big gang of us, 20 maybe, all 12 and 13-year-olds, would just go out and throw stuff.

'I have thrown stuff through front windows - only if the people who lived there have p***ed me off,' he says defensively.

'Ages ago, I threw an empty Stella bottle through someone's front window when they were at home.

'He came out and started shouting, so I threw another bottle at him.'