Killer Kids: What Makes Children Kill and How Do We Handle It?

Jackie Smith, Science, W.A. Hough High

Curriculum Unit (pdf)


This unit first defines juvenile versus adult offenders and then investigates reasons why children become killers. Familial and societal influences are studied and then physiological and psychological factors are considered. The unit has students attempt to create a profile of a “typical” child killer. The unit subsequently analyzes how children are treated in the criminal court systems of the United States and other countries to come to a better understanding of responses to violent juvenile offenders. Students make judgements about how child killers should be handled within the legal system. The unit concludes by studying the common characteristics of some school shooters with an eye toward developing an action plan if those characteristics are observed in students’ lives. Student learning is assessed through class debates, individual position papers and class discussions.