What leads children to commit ‘evil’ acts? | Letter

Vincent Lambe says he wants his film Detainment to open a conversation (‘I was told James Bulger’s killers were evil’, G2, 22 February). He also refers to “trauma and troubled childhoods” leading to children committing horrendous acts.

In fact the conversation is already well under way among some neuroscientists. Enabled by the advent of brain MRI scans, these scientists have studied the active brains of adolescents with psychopathic traits, and have consistently found particular structural abnormalities.

For an authoritative and very readable account of this work, I thoroughly recommend reading neuroscientist Abigail Marsh’s 2017 book The Fear Factor before calling the children evil or blaming their families or backgrounds.
Sally Llewellyn

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