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Raising up a criminal

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

Raising up a criminal

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While Barbados doesn’t have serial killers or culprits killing a number of people at one time, there is a concern it may be nurturing potential criminals from birth.
“The Barbadian criminal is very different from the American criminal in their modus operandi, that’s why hardly [ever] you would hear someone here get charged for murder.
“You always hear manslaughter because murder is premeditated. We don’t have a big population of psychopaths,” forensic psychologist Rennette M. Dimmott told the SUNDAY SUN.
“Most criminal activity happens as a result of a dispute between two people and it is not premeditated.”
Nor does she feel that the Barbadian criminal might adopt more American-type behaviours.
“That hasn’t happened. I find the Barbadian criminal might do some different things from images they would have seen, but I don’t see that degree of pathology in our criminals now,” she said.
But the greater problem Dimmott fears Barbados faces in the development of criminals is not only nature, but nurture as well.
“I always say to people to be careful who you have children with. A lot of children now belong to people who are incarcerated. There are some theories out there that criminals are born to criminals.”
Twinning the birth situation with fractured family settings and dysfunctional or abusive home environments that don’t offer children love, stability and a sense of safety, these homes become fertile breeding grounds for tomorrow’s criminal, she posited.
“There are some households here where crime is a way of life. When you have people who have been committing crimes from young, you need to check the family background to see what has been going on.
“You have aunts and uncles who introduce young people to crime, and a big reason why they choose a life of crime is because they aren’t valued.”
Research shows that children who are systematically abused and deprived of loving care develop impulsive behaviour patterns, have an inability to assess situations appropriately, and have a self-centred preoccupation with survival.
“Sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, bad treatment, all these things mould people into criminals,” she said. “A criminal is moulded by the sum of his experiences.”
Children who are victims of sexual and physical abuse have a propensity for criminal activity in some form or another, she said. They know how to violate someone because they have been violated.
They have experienced torment and humiliation, so it becomes easy for them to do the same.
The absence of a compassionate adult who offers some bastion of protection to these children sends a message that human life, initially their own, is not sacred or worth cherishing.
“Parents play a significant role in creating criminals,” Dimmott said. “A parent’s responsibility is to mould children, but women in Barbados change partners frequently.
“A child wants mummy and daddy, not an outsider. A mother, father and children form a family. When that family structure has broken down, all sorts of problems happen.
“If another male is allowed into that equation, a child might start to rebel. The mother might start spending more time with the partner and neglect the children.”
Dimmott acknowledges that criminals want to achieve the same things – house, car, material possessions – that most people strive towards.
“Their means to an end is different. They’re going to get this house, this car, but they’re going to get it illegally.
“Everybody likes to have the finer things in life, but you may not be able to afford [them].
“While we may reason it out and say, well, I can’t get this now, the criminal is not going to do that – he is going to put measures in place to get what he wants.”