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The Immeasurable Pain of the Parents of a Child Criminal

The news was appalling, terrible, unimaginable with respect to what happened, how the crime was executed, but not much different from similar massacres of the kind that are taking place in America with ever-increasing frequency.

Someone killed five people with a gun in North Carolina. Five people! But what made it absolutely chilling, beyond the number of murdered people, what placed it beyond the ability of humans to grasp or accept it, is a particular revelation about the accused murderer: He is a 15-year-old boy! That’s the fact: only 15 years old!

You and I, when we were 15 years old… played, studied, dreamed. This child, Austin Thompson, at that age, killed five people. And among those he killed was one of his brothers – only 16 years old.

The authorities are looking for the… motive, what made this child perpetrate such a massacre. This is of course is their job.

I didn’t think about the… motive, the cause. What else could it be, but that this child had deep psychological problems?

I thought about his parents. What kind of people are they? Under what conditions – we don’t even talk about values– did they raise him although this child did not have a chance to grow up.

And I thought about how much responsibility they bear for what their child did.

The questions – and my anger – about these parents were answered, at least to a degree, by a statement they issued:

“Words cannot begin to describe our anguish and sorrow. Our son Austin inflicted immeasurable pain on the Raleigh community, and we are overcome with grief for the innocent lives lost… There were never any indications or warning signs that Austin was capable of doing anything like this,” they concluded, apparently to deflect blame.

What’s done is done. It cannot be reversed. However, the parents’ statement will help ease the pain of the victims’ relatives somewhat. And it certainly answers the question of what kind of parents they are.

Not what they first seemed to be.


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